Declassified Wines

Do you finally get access to great wines that previously were only for certain people's 'eyes only' ? Not really, but it does mean better access. In recent years as the weather has continued to warm, the german grape harvest has become more ripe. Of course winemakers can manipulate wine to do their bidding, however there is only so much that can be done. One big bonus of riper grapes is that the lower level (and less expensive) QmP wines, ie Kabinetts, show more fruit and are lower alcohol. These wines can often rate as a Sp
ätlese but the winemaker proabably has other grapes earmarked for Spätlese. Taking a near Spätlese and selling it as a Kabinett is Declassification. In the 2005 vintage you will see many 90+ rated kabinetts, which is unusual, but becoming less so. It is clear that reviewers score higher concentrations of fruit (and sometimes residual sugar) higher. There are of course declassified Auslese, ie Auslese labeled as Spätlese.  There is a downside to all this. Some german wine fans prize the balance of light fruit and alcohol of traditional Kabinetts. They feel that when the wine has to work for the fruit, it reveals the true character of what is considered a Riesling.  Debates aside, the warming climate is affecting the character of German wines, but they continue to be evermore interesting and complex.