Stump the Riesling Geeks!

Today we introduced a new game — “Stump the Riesling Geeks!” — for #WineWednesday on Twitter. Here are some of the questions we received and our best attempts at quick answers. Our thanks to those who tried to stump us, and we look forward to playing again soon!

@cartedesvins – What is the breakdown of GG sites in the different regions of Germany?

“GG” is a German wine designation that means “Grosses Gewächs” (“great growth” in English). Because this is still an unofficial designation, not yet part of the German wine law, winemakers can’t put the whole words on the label, only “GG”.

The VDP, Germany’s top grower’s association, has undertaken an initiative to classify the vineyards. There are three levels (similar to Burgundy): “village” vineyards, “classified” vineyards, and “Erste Lage” (“first site”). VDP members can designate an Erste Lage vineyard with the little logo of a “1” with a cluster of grapes. More info, and the logo, here.

GG is the further designation for a producer’s top dry wine from an Erste Lage vineyard, such as we do with our own Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen, Prälat and Wehlener Sonnenuhr). See the attached label (“Alte Reben” is yet another designation that means “old vines”).

The list of VDP classified sites, by region:

Note that this particular classification is only for the VDP. Non-VDP producers are not prohibited from using “GG” if they want to. But so far the general agreement is that GG means a dry wine. Of course, there are some producers who want to change it already!

Note further that the Rheingau uses a different term for their top dry wines from Erste Lage sites: “Erstes Gewächs” (“first growth”). Rheingau is the only region that has made this an official part of the state wine law.

@Wanderlust078 – How often does the VDP check the GG vineyard sites?
The VDP classification is an on-going project. But the great vineyards have been known for centuries. In the Mosel, for example, there is a vineyard classification map from 1868 that was based on historical prices that the wines fetched.

@nessaussie – How many vineyards will be affected by Hochmoselbrücke?
The bridge itself will cross over the Ürziger Würzgarten and Zeltinger Himmelreich vineyards. A parcel of Ürziger Würzgarten had to be removed to make way for the massive footings, and there will be some shade from the bridge, but the direct effect on the vineyards is not too bad. The major concern is what the roadway will do to the water supply of the vineyards in Bernkastel, Graach and Wehlen. The road will cut through the forest on the top of the hillside above this long stretch of top-quality vineyards.

@hughthewineguy – Why do you think the IRF taste scale has not been widely adopted?
It’s starting to be used more. The IRF estimates it’ll be on some 15-million bottles this year! (See the taste scale at We need wine lovers to tell their favorite Riesling producers that they should start using it.

@Wanderlust078 – Which side of the vines is generally for leaf pulling?
Depending on the many variables of site exposition and vine training system, you can generally say that the east side gets the most leaf pulling. That gives some exposure to the morning sun, but shades the fruit from the hot afternoon sun. With Riesling you don’t want a lot of sun directly on the fruit, however. But you need good air circulation to inhibit mildew.

@themanovsteele – What’s the best Riesling clone available for dry Riesling production in Germany?
We think the best clone is NO clone. At Dr. Loosen, we propogate new vines from our oldest, original vines that are on their own roots. So we don’t plant clones very often, but there are about 60 different clones available in Germany. Among the most widely planted are Neustadt 90, Geisenheim 110 and Geisenheim 198.

@Vignoramus – If someone choked on a Riesling (god forbid), would you have to perform the Himmelreich maneuver?

To paraphrase Eddie Izzard, yes, but it would be less of a maneuver and more of a gesture.

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