Germany: Winemaking

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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While Germany has been a leader in winemaking technology as well as viticultual research, a movement towards minimal intervention and rediscovering traditional methods is a significant part of today’s German wine scene. The resulting tension is reflected in the practices of most cellars. Sophisticated presses, typically operating at two atmospheres or less, are sometimes essentially programmed to re-enact the regimen of ancient basket presses, and not a few strong young German growers have rehabilitated antique specimens of the latter. centrifuges, filters, fining agents, and enzymes are employed by many estates to ensure ultra-clean juices that are then fermented with carefully selected yeast cultures. But the virtues of minimal gravity settling, retention of solid matter, and spontaneous fermentation (which in the Mosel never went entirely out of fashion), are being affirmed by a growing share of vintners. Early racking, clarification, and bottling of young white wines is still the norm, but the role of lees contact as well as lighter fining and filtration, and later bottling in enhancing flavour and stability are taken increasingly seriously many wine growers. Charcoal-fining to remove off-aromas and flavours in vintages featuring grey rot and other fungal infections is still common but is increasingly seen as a last resort.