Exciting things are happening in the world of German wine, as innovative, young winemakers emerge to rock the international boat with mind-blowing wines in all shapes and sizes. Whilst Riesling still remains an area of specialism and importance for the German wine market, other grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are cropping up all over Germany.
In September 2017, I was able to witness these exciting changes first-hand as I headed out to Germany for the twelfth German Wine Academy with 25 wine educators keen to expand their German wine horizons. Our four day trip covered two of Germany’s 13 wine regions, with numerous visits to wineries in Pfalz and Rheingau, some seriously delicious dinners with the winemakers themselves and a series of seminars held at Weincampus Neustad.
One masterclass in particular, hosted by Romana Echensperger MW, grabbed the attention of every single educator, since it addressed one of the most exciting categories in Germany’s market – Sekt. Subject to many a dodgy headline, Germany’s love for Sekt translates into the second-biggest market in the world for sparkling wine. In recent years, we’ve seen major changes in the premiumisation and individualisation of the Sekt category as smaller winemakers are specialising in producing high-quality, low-volume Sekt. With a few historic obstacles to overcome in terms of quality and volume, Germany’s winemakers are succeeding in overturning such obstacles with seriously impressive wines.
During our tasting with Romana, we tasted through a number of different Sekts from Pfalz, Rheingau, Franken, Nahe, Wurttermberg and Rheinhessen. This really allowed us to detect – and analyse – terroir differences, the different grape varieties used and varying production methods – a real snapshot of the Sekts available in the German market.
In addition, that same evening we headed to Sekthaus Schloss Vaux for a tasting with Christoph (Vaux) and Betty from Sekthaus Solter, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. It was great to be able to chat with Christoph and Betty about their focus on premium Sekt, whilst their Sekt matches with each dish were definitely a particular highlight for most!
After four jam-packed days soaking up the German wine regions, I think it’s safe to say that Germany is one to watch on the global playing field. With winemakers branching out from the traditional Riesling to focus on other varietals and premium Sekt on the rise, the next few years are shaping up to be very exciting indeed.