German White Wines

For centuries the most admired wines of Germany, once as highly priced as First Growth Claret, were Rieslings. Sadly history and reputation became blurred in the post-war period as growers pursued volume from lesser varieties. Now the Liebfraumilch era is over, and the focus is firmly back on quality.

The big debate now is how dry you like your wine. The Germans demand dry Riesling as an accompaniment to food. Elsewhere in the world drinkers love the traditional "noble sweet" styles, in ascending order of sweetness from Kabinett to Spatlese to Auslese and beyond.

We keep a foot in both camps, with both "trocken" (dry) and the more familiar fruity styles in our list. To try to describe these styles in terms of sweetness (i.e. Kabinett as off-dry, Spatlese medium dry) is over-simplistic. The point about these wines is the thrilling balance between natural fruit sugars and acidity. A classic German Riesling has a lovely juicy attack, fruit and minerality (which is often expressed as pepper and spice) on the mid palate and a refreshing, citrussy finish. It is ridiculous to dismiss these wines as "sweet". Sadly too many people won’t try these wines at all, yet when they do they often love them. Kabinetts and Spatleses make the most delicious aperitifs, and the sweeter Ausleses are lovely for drinking after dinner (but not with pudding). Finally, these wines are excellent, with their appealing fruit and very low alcohol levels, for introducing teenagers to wine (we need the next generation of customers!).

A simple guide to decoding the names of the wines: the first word is usually the name of the village, but with -er added. The second is the name of the vineyard. Thus Urziger Wurzgarten translates as the spice garden vineyard at Urzig.

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Style

Grape Variety

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Villa Wolf, Dry Riesling, Pfalz, 2018

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Villa Wolf, Dry Riesling, Pfalz, 2018

Not bone dry, but a very well-made bottle of crisp, grapefruity Riesling: perfect for...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionPfalz

ColourWhite

ABV12%

Bottle75cl

CodeWOL118

GrapeRiesling

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Donnhoff, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Riesling Auslese Goldcap, Half Bottle, 2011
Jancis Robinson

Entrancing, expansive aromas; tropical fruit and honeyed botrytis. Such sweet, ripe fruit,...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionNahe

ColourWhite

ABV8.5%

Bottle37.5cl

CodeDON411

GrapeRiesling

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Walt, Riesling, Pfalz, Germany, 2018

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Walt, Riesling, Pfalz, Germany, 2018

The Pfalz region near Alsace is perhaps better known for dry Riesling, but this is in the...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionPfalz

ColourWhite

ABV11%

Bottle75cl

CodeWAL118

GrapeRiesling

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Dr Loosen, Estate Riesling, Mosel, 2018

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Dr Loosen, Estate Riesling, Mosel, 2018

Loosen's entry level, off-dry Riesling is a benchmark Mosel example, showing classic...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionRheingau

ColourWhite

ABV8.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeDRL118

GrapeRiesling

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Leitz, Eins-Zwei-Dry, Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, 2018

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Leitz, Eins-Zwei-Dry, Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, 2018

Dry Riesling from superstar Johannes Leitz's south-facing vineyards above the Rhine....

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionRheingau

ColourWhite

ABV12%

Bottle75cl

CodeLEI418

GrapeReisling

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Dr Loosen, Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2018

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Dr Loosen, Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2018

From 60 year old ungrafted vines growing on this brutally steep, red slate vineyard. Delicious...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionMosel

ColourWhite

ABV8%

Bottle75cl

CodeDRL218

GrapeRiesling

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Donnhoff, Tonschiefer, Riesling Trocken, 2019

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Donnhoff, Tonschiefer, Riesling Trocken, 2019

Tonschiefer = clay slate. From low yields in the Leistenberg and Hanglagen vineyards,a stunning...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionNahe

ColourWhite

ABV12%

Bottle75cl

CodeDON519

GrapeRiesling

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Villa Wolf, Gewurztraminer, Pfalz, 2019

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Villa Wolf, Gewurztraminer, Pfalz, 2019

Off-dry (about 18 grams residual sugar), a textbook example of the grape, light, fragrant with...

Our Rating

Dry > Sweet

OriginGermany

RegionPfalz

ColourWhite

ABV11.5%

Bottle75cl

CodeWOL319

GrapeGewurztraminer

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