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Carol Emmas - Let's talk about Riesling - Germany

Published:  04 August, 2010

Riesling, is a grape that journalists, the wine trade and sommelier's love, but one that the consumer tends to overlook.

As part of a new series in Harpers I will be discussing key grape varieties and their future with opinions from the trade.

In the July 30, issue I talk about Riesling and over the next few weeks on this blog I'll give a snapshot of individual countries and their approach to the grape. This week it's Germany, the top seller of Riesling in the UK.

The bad news is that German wine imported into UK continues to decrease by volume and value.

But the good news is volume is falling faster than value, which is an indication that retailers are stocking and selling less Liebfraumilch and Hock priced at around £4. Brands that have plagued the country's image since the 1980s when the sweet German wines went tumbling out of fashion.

Additional good news is that sales of German quality wines priced between £9 and £10 increased last year by 207%, a welcome recognition for producers that pride themselves on quality.

Jan Eymael, second generation at Wengut Pfeffingen, in Pfalz says: "German winemaking has advanced tremendously, but what hasn't is the image. The problem in the UK is it doesn't associate German wine with high quality and we still have to fight against that. Plus everyone still thinks that German whites are sweet, yet 80% of Wengut Pfeffingen wines are good quality trocken."

To help German winemakers combat the issues they face is Generation Riesling. Set up by the German Wine Institute DWI, and Wines of Germany in 2006, the aim is to bring together dynamic, ambitious, young German winemakers under 35 years of age who have the desire to modernise the image of German wines both in the domestic and international markets.

To become a member, candidates must prove their linguistic abilities, education, international experience and understanding of key markets.

Caroline Diel, winemaker from Keller and Diel and founder of Nahe Talent says: " The younger generation are much more open and well traveled with a lot of international experience to bring to the table, whether that's work in the vineyards, winery, cellar or marketing."

Wines of Germany director, Nicky Forrest, says: "No one is more aware of the image problems Germany has had in the past than the Germans themselves and the German Wine Institute, DWI is concentrating its marketing efforts on revitalising its image internationally by showcasing the versatility of their wines, their suitability to modern lifestyles and the talent of its young winemakers through Generation Riesling initiatives and events."

Hopefully due to the rise in quality sales - the fruits of Germany's labours may now just be starting to show through. Many of us tend to forget and some do not have the knowledge that Germany makes some of the most unique and best wines in the world. And they are also wines that perfectly feed the appetite of consumers who are looking for a naturally lower abv.