GERMANY VINTAGE GUIDE
Click on each vintage to see what we currently have in stock on our main website:
2017 - Spring frost from a cold snap across Germany commenced what would be the lowest-yielding vintage in perhaps a generation. But what producers lacked in volume very typically correlated into increased quality and concentration. Vines ripened the reduced crop rapidly, retaining racy acidity and the possibility of botritis selection in an early harvest. Finished wines display noticeably high extract and phenolic power. There is far less volume of entry-level and low-prädikat wines available on the market, and these wines are often declassified from higher prädikats because ripeness came so easily. A market such as this presents some excellent values but finite selection. Going up the scale into the finest wines, there is a landscape of treasures to be found across all styles. Some long-established and celebrated producers shipped some of their best lineups ever. Less-famous estates were also widely successful and present unique opportunities to explore.
2016 - A warm September followed by a cool and easy October harvest yielded a fine and elegant vintage in 2016. It is the best dry wine vintage since 2008; a vintage to which it draws direct comparison with its focus, purity, and drive. In particular, 2016 will prove to be a watershed vintage for the Grosses Gewächs category. The finest examples have perhaps finally captured the wine world's proper attention and you simply can't miss. The piquancy of Mosel Kabinett and Spätlese is also particularly exciting. Higher-prädikat wines are less in quantity but demonstrate excellent purity and focus. It remains somewhat unclear how much the 2016s will shut down, but they may largely avoid a hard closed phase like the 2012s managed to do.
2015 - After a couple of challenging years for producers, the 2015 season was a sigh of relief which delivered grapes with high ripeness, high acidity, and healthy botrytis. A simultaneously fresh and full-bodied character is found in the wines which were successful across all regions and styles in terms of both quality and volume. The QbA-level wines offer excellent value in a vintage such as this and continue to drink well. But as universally successful as the vintage is, prädikat wines from the cooler regions are now very prone to shut down. Cellaring isn't so much beneficial as it is mandatory for Mosel wines... even a handful of years for a modest Kabinett. Largely because of their scale, the finer dry wines have become particularly cantankerous since release and need time to harmonize again. But those certainly won't require as much patience as the prolific and monumental dessert wines.
2014 - The 2014 season presented various growing challenges across Germany which realized inconsistency across the spectrum of finished wines. However plenty of good growers with the resources to make careful selection of grapes in the vineyard and in the cellar managed to produce many fine wines at reduced overall yields. Many dry wines were picked before October rains and achieved success a bit more easily. The coolest regions had little choice but to push harvest after October rains, but grapes were less vulnerable than the warmer regions at that stage and it often worked out positively. The Saar with its slow ripening did particularly well in the realm of higher-end bottlings. Like the previous vintage, successful entry-level wines from 2014 continue to drink well but the finest wines also have a tendency to close down.
2013 - A challenging vintage across most regions, 2013 is a throwback to conditions not seen since the mid-90s when full ripeness was not easily achieved every year. In these once-typical conditions before global warming took hold at this latitude, the finest terroirs with the steepest exposures had a more pronounced outcome in producing successful wines. Top estates were able to do the necessary work in the vineyards and cellar in 2013 to produce high-quality wines at typically reduced yields. More conservative pickers produced racy Kabinett and Spätlese bottlings but the high-acid structure has typically closed them down until at least 2020. Estates like J.J. Prüm in the Mosel that pushed for a later harvest produced very high quality Auslesen, but these can close down hard and need at least as much cellar time as a more opulent vintage. Dry wines were most successful from top producers in the Rhine regions and Nahe. Their Grosses Gewächs bottlings remain very age-worthy and often don't skip a beat from an easier vintage like 2012.
2012 - A classically proportioned vintage was achieved in 2012 with clean ripeness and firm acidity perhaps comparable to 2004. The dry wines are a major highlight and shine across all regions because of the long and even growing season with little botrytis. Kabinett and Spätlese wines are "correct" in their profile and scale unlike the declassified 2011s. These 2012 bottlings already drink well and will continue to develop positively, so bigger isn’t necessarily better. High-prädikat wines are more rarified in their volume because of lack of botrytis but top producers found a way to select small quantities of some very special wines. There were also classic conditions for Eiswein. The 2012 vintage is not to be ignored.
2011 - A complete contrast to 2010, the 2011 vintage rendered easy-going wines with lush profiles. However the wines eventually came to display a bit less firmness of structure than what one usually sees from Germany. Entry-level wines of all styles offer good value in a year when full ripeness was easily achieved by anyone. Dry wines are accessible and generous but often loose in focus compared to firmer vintages. Kabinett and Spätlese wines from top producers are commonly declassified from higher prädikats, so they offer value but need until about the age of ten to shed fat and develop secondary characteristics. Higher-prädikat wines are rich and certainly age-worthy, but currently are often closed-down or will be dominated by primary characteristics for an extended period of time.
2010 - Initially underrated by critics, 2010 is a great vintage with high ripeness and good botrytis. The defining characteristic of 2010 is a freakishly high level of acidity even for Germany. Except for a few brave producers, de-acidification was common for QbA-level and dry wines to make them palatable in their youth. That practice will shorten their life in the cellar, but the vintage will not ultimately be judged for the entry-level and dry wines. Kabinett and Spätlese wines are starting to come out of their shell and drink well and should do so for many years. High-prädikat wines (Auslese goldkapsel and above) need a lot of cellar time and will benefit immensely from their very high levels of extract and acid. Those gems will be virtually immortal and eventually legendary.