Now that you've waded through the naming conventions, what else is
there that can help you identify what a German wine is about ? Most
German wines have names that are the surnames of the current or
previous owners. It can be a first and last name, a salutation and last
name, two last names, etc. Like Kurt
Hain, Dr. Loosen, Shäfer-Fröhlich.
you may or may not see the word Riesling, but if it is not a Riesling
then it would certainly indicate what it is. A common description of
the wine is from is the town-vineyard pair. If something hails from Hamburg for example, then it would
be Hamburger. A very famous
vineyard in Piesport on the
Mosel is called Goldtröpfchen.
Many winemakers have a Piesporter
Of course wine names are also sprinkled with
Castle names, adjectives (alte Badstube vs Badstube), and other
confusing information, but that is half the fun.
One problem with US wineseller's listings is that
they will mix any of these up, also the entire name usually exceeds
their field length on forms, so they abbreviate willy nilly. They leave
signficant *, **, *** (which, by the way, means *=first harvest,
**=second, ie later, etc) or Nr 6, Nr 22 (barrel numbers). JJ
Christoffel^^ has an Ürziger (from Ürzig) Würzgarten Auslese in *, ** and *** forms, each
costing more than the other.
In the winesellers defense,
all this information is sprayed all over the bottle.
Ideally the wines would be listed thusly:
Year - Winemaker - Varietal - Category - Town Vineyard - Region
2005 - Kurt Hain - Riesling - Kabinett - Piesporter Goldtröpfchen -
(the above is a very good wine by the way ;-)
One more example. J. A. Strub in
Rheinhessen has a Kabinett
that you can get in the US that is called a Niersteiner Brückchen. The
Brückchen Vineyard is in Nierstein (Die Riesling City), in
fact if you are in town you can walk right to it. Brückchen means 'little bridge' over a brook which runs
through the middle. Makes the grapes happy.
^^ Who is JJ Christoffel Erben ? Have
you heard of Robert Eymael and his Moenchhof wines ? Well he is
majority owner of JJ Christoffel since 2000, while Hans-Leo Christoffel
continues to run things on the ground.