How do you recognize an excellent German wine - and how do you find the best wines when shopping in the abundance of wines? Quite simply: you look for the appropriate seals.
If there is a reference to "VDP" and / or "GG" on the label, the wine lover is on the safe side.
The inconspicuous abbreviation VDP is a guarantee for enjoying an exquisite sip of wine. It stands for the "Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter".
This traditional association is dedicated primarily to the origin of the grapes used for the wine - because this origin plays the most important role in the production.
The smaller the area where the grapes are harvested, the higher the quality of the wine. The so-called "GG´s" are also important because they are also an indispensable quality feature of excellent wines.
The winegrowers have committed themselves to work only to very high standards and to produce sustainably best wines based on these voluntary commitments.
For this they have developed the seal with the grape eagle as a label on which consumers can orient themselves when shopping. Ten regional associations, which are subordinate to the Federal Association, determine the grape varieties that should be planted in the respective region, and have agreed on unusually high standards for the quality assessment of cultivation and production.
The classification pyramid is again divided into four segments, resulting in four quality levels: There is the estate wine with very attractive price-performance ratio in level 1, the local wine in level 2, which should reflect the character of the growing place as best as possible, the first Situation in the third stage, whose grapes have matured in excellent conditions and which has long been known for its excellent quality, and at the top of the pyramid the "Grand Cru" , which offers wines of the category Grosse Gewächse.
The highest priority in the cultivation of all quality levels of the association is an environmentally friendly management in ecologically sound orientation. On chemical and synthetic pest control is completely omitted; fertilizing is done exclusively with compost, humus or other organic aids. Also, the grape varieties used must have a natural occurrence in the region - exotic gadgetry or mixed wines will look in vain for the association wines.
What counts are characteristic, proven varieties such as the Riesling in the Pflaz region, followed by the Grauburgunder Grape and Pinot Noir.
In the Ahr wine region, on the other hand, red wine plays the first violin - that is what tradition is all about; red grapes thrive here especially well. The Riesling still has the lion's share of the association's wines.
Even the maximum yield is one of the quality characteristics of the association - from one hectare of vineyard a maximum of 75 hectoliters of must be produced, so the more intense aroma profile of the wines is guaranteed in any case.
Some of the winemakers even voluntarily fall below this limit in order to guarantee a high storage potential of their wines. It is not about quantity in VDP, but always about quality.
But what exactly does it have to do with the so-called GG´s at the top of the quality pyramid?
They represent the highest classification level for dry wines from the association. A large crop must be able to exhibit a certain minimum must weight and late harvest quality.
Say: The grapes must not be harvested too early and must be part of the traditional grape varieties of the respective growing area - such as the Riesling or Pinot Noir in the Pfalz region.
Grosse Gewächse are always associated with dry wines. Very important: The grapes can only be harvested by hand; no harvest-accelerating machines and other modern equipment may be used.
The yield is also limited. GG´s also receive an extra seal with the "GG grape" label.
For all these reasons, winegrowers are not given their membership as a gift, but have to undergo a multi-year application process in which the operation and its management are scrutinized very carefully.
The external presentation of the company is also checked. Wines, winemakers, harvesting methods and production must merge, so to speak, into a sort of viticulture-"Gesamtkunstwerk" in order to be able to meet the high standards of the Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter.
Among the best and best-known VDP wines, some from the Grosse Gewächse category, include the Kiedrich Gräfenberg from the Robert Weil winery, the Rüdesheim Schlossberg Riesling from the Georg Breuer winery, the Geisenheim Rothenberg Riesling from Weingüter Wegeler - Gutshaus Rheingau or the Scharzhofberger vineyard, Winery Egon Müller to Scharzhof ... just to name a few.