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There’s a Dry Wine Revolution Happening in Germany Right Now

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Many people might still associate Germany with sweet Riesling and sweet Riesling only, but that’s officially an antiquated way of thinking. Yes, high-quality bottlings of off-dry and sweet wines are still very much around. But over the last decade, Germany’s newer, dryer offerings—especially amongst the country’s high-end Rieslings—have sparked a dry wine revolution.

The credit for this goes primarily to the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), an association of over 200 growers from all over Germany. Through collaborative work, the organization encouraged the production of dry wines and developed a classification system for recognizing the country’s best vineyards, similar to Burgundy’s quality pyramid. As a result, dry wines evocative of these top vineyards’ terroir have proved ascendant.

The best of the bunch, in my opinion, is the Grosses Gewächs, or GGs. These are dry wines produced from grosse lage or grand cru vineyards. GGs must be made from grapes with a must weight (the amount of sugar in the grapes at harvest) that’s at least as high as that required for spätlese bottlings, which are semi-sweet to sweet wines made with grapes harvested later in the season. Essentially, this means that GGs are made with perfectly ripe grapes from arguably the best vineyard sites in the country.

Simultaneously, the recent shift toward natural wine has also vastly contributed to dry wine production. Since leaving residual sugar in wines that are bottled unfiltered and without the addition of sulfites makes for a risky endeavor, all vintners who work in this style ferment their wines until there’s very little sugar left. For what it’s worth, a few of these producers are also VDP members, such as Schätzel and Odinstal. But for the most part, these makers work independently, outside of any grower association.

These days, Germany’s dry-style natural wines and GGs are, I believe, the country’s most exciting bottlings. Although Riesling remains the king, reflected in both planting percentages and reputation, many other grapes are popping up, too.

Eager to try some yourself? The following dry German wines are worth exploring.


The Best New Dry German Wines

Schnaitmann 2019 Lämmler GG Dry Riesling (Württemberg)

The light-golden color of this Riesling hints at some development, and that is exactly what sets this GG apart from its peers. The extra aging only benefits the terrific mix of intensely spiced and mineral-laced elements to come out as the acidity integrates and beams on the rich lemon meringue, white raspberry and baked apple. The succulent, yet fresh finish flows on the palate. Drink now through 2035. 97 Points — Aleks Zecevic

$70 Wine.com

Franz Keller 2019 Eichberg Oberrotwell Pinot Noir (Baden)

A classic expression of Pinot Noir, with the juicy cherry flavor that is beautifully expressed against velvety texture, vibrant structure and dense harmony of tannins. Mineral and spice accents add depth and charm, before the acidity comes in a second wave and leaves a mouthwatering impression on the finish. Drink now through 2035. 95 Points — A.Z.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Salwey 2018 Eichberg GG Pinot Gris (Baden)

This is a showstopper, especially for this variety that is often misinterpreted. It shows leesy reduction on the nose, which actually adds to the charm as it meets the complex palate filled with beautiful white raspberry, jasmine, flint and thyme notes. It is a mouthful, unraveling a layer after layer, while remaining graceful and silky. Lip-smacking finish will invite you for more. Drink now through 2030. Editor’s Choice. 95 Points — A.Z.

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Hans Wirsching 2019 Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg GG Silvaner (Franken)

This is suave with terrific harmony between juiciness and its savory minerality, connected by vibrant acidity that brings out exotic notes of violet, persimmon and durian. Its charm goes further with the mix of savory mineral elements and baking spice notes that mark the finish. 94 Points — A.Z.

$80 Wine.com

Wagner-Stempel 2020 Heerkretz GG Dry Riesling (Rheinhessen)

Lovely aromas introduce this ripe, inviting version, offering orchard blossom, lilac, crisp apple and ginger flavors. This is very elegant with lots of verve and a glossy texture, yet it is expressive and long. It ends with hints of sage and vanilla spice that invite you to meditate and enjoy. Best after 2025. 94 Points — A.Z.

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Huber 2018 Alte Reben Pinot Noir (Baden)

This is medium-bodied, displaying great harmony and depth. It is silky and vibrant, brimming with cassis and black cherry that are in perfect harmony with bright acidity and palate-coating tannins. Refined on the finish, with stylish spice notes. Best after 2025. 94 Points — A.Z.

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Piri Naturel 2020 Pinot Noir (Germany)

Stunning showing of Pinot Noir, this is vivacious, yet deep and complex. Velvety in texture, with ripe tannins and bright acidity creating a vivid structure, to support vibrant fruit flavors. It feels incredibly open and free, yet with enough muscle to hold this momentum for years to come. Drink now through 2032. 94 Points — A.Z.

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Tesch 2021 Laubenheimer St. Remigiusberg Trocken Riesling (Nahe)

This is enticing, capturing your attention from the first sniff. It features an exotic, tropical, fruit cast to the apricot and passion fruit flavors, with laser-precise acidity. It is really its mineral backbone that plumbs the depth, supported by the supple texture. Best after 2025. 94 Points — A.Z.

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Pfeffingen 2021 Herrenberg Ungstein GG Trocken Riesling (Pfalz)

Intensely flavored version, with savory mineral undertones behind the ripe peach and nectarine, while white pepper and cardamom echo in the background. This combines power and finesse. It has great structure, lending verve and cut. The finish is long and infused with notes of sea salt. Best after 2025. 94 Points — A.Z.

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Kühling-Gillot 2021 Nierstein Trocken Riesling (Rheinhessen)

Harmonious and finely crafted, this delivers a vibrant minerally core to the crisp apple, dried sage, nectarine and quince flavors. The acidity seamlessly flows through, fueling the flavors. Flint and sea salt accents emerge on the long finish that keeps inviting you for more. It feels more approachable than most 2021s. Drink now through 2033. 93 Points — A.Z.

$60 Wine.com

Wittmann 2021 Westhofen Kirchspiel Trocken GG Riesling (Rheinhessen)

This silky-textured Riesling is a delightful representation of the vintage, showing piercing acidity that is buffered by a lot of substance. It is aromatic, filled with chamomile and chrysanthemum on the nose, while the palate exhibits an impressive showing of guava, dragon fruit and lime. Hints of spice and savory elements lurk on the finish. Although it is quite inviting right now, if you’re patient, this will sweep you off your feet in seven to 10 years. Editor’s Choice. 95 Points — A.Z.

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Schlossgut Diel 2020 Goldloch Riesling GG Riesling (Nahe)

This brings an elevated experience, with great elegance, but also intense acidity which matches the expressive notes of apple, lemon oil and slivered almond. There is an edgy buttermilk note that emerges midpalate, adding character, but it is swiftly scooped by enticing spice and mineral features that mark the mouthwatering finish. Best after 2025. 93 Points — A.Z.

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Carl Loewen 2021 Maximin Herrenberg GG Riesling (Mosel)

This is compact and tightly knit, with a herbaceous frame of sage and spearmint framing the core of nectarine, succulent quince and wild orange oil. It is juicy and crunchy on the palate with powerful acidity flowing through connecting the elements, leading this to a mouthwatering finish. It shows potential, but needs a bit more time. Best after 2026. 93 Points — A.Z.

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