Grosses Gewächs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Grosses Gewächs (pronounced ‘guh-vex’) is a prestige wine category devised by Germany’s vdp and in use (though no longer exclusively by its members) since 2002. Wines so designated (but not necessarily so labelled, as the terminology is not recognized by the german wine law) are from traditional grapes and vineyard sites classified (by the VDP) as (superior) grosse lagen. The sites in question are typically einzellagen but occasionally subdivisions thereof (whose names are not technically allowed on labels). Grosse Gewächse (pl.) must be cropped at yields of no more than 50 hl/ha, be hand harvested, at no less than the must weight required for spätlese (although Grosses Gewächs wines are nowadays labelled without prädikat), and be subjected to sensory review. Besides attempting to classify, protect, and promote the best vineyard sites of Germany, the VDP regulations for Grosses Gewächs were also intended to stipulate a recognizable style of relatively full-bodied, legally trocken wine (though that designation is also absent from their labels). Grosses Gewächs wines must be bottled in glass embossed with a logo featuring a grape cluster and the numeral 1 and (since vintage 2007) are labelled with the initials GG. In a departure from conventional German labelling practice, and to emphasize continuity with the Burgundian notion of a grand cru, vineyard names on the labels of Grosse Gewächse are not preceded by the names of their respective villages, with the result that some names—Herrenberg and Schlossberg, for example—can be found on wines from several different sites. Within the VDP, Grosses Gewächs encompasses Rheingau wines formerly labelled erstes gewächs.