Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Spätlese, means literally ‘late harvest’ but, as a so-called prädikat, is officially defined by grape sugar at harvest. In Germany, specific minimum must weights are laid down for each combination of vine variety and region and range from 76 to 90 °oechsle. In Austria, where the designation is no longer used for dry wines and seldom for sweet, the minimum across the board is 19 °KMW (approximately 94 Oechsle). Since the mid 20th century, many German growers have considered a Spätlese the ideal vehicle for conveying the complexity of ripe Riesling and its influence by site. It is thus not surprising that during the 1980s revival and subsequent domination of dry wines in domestic markets, the conjunction Spätlese trocken would be treated as a mark of excellence. When the term grosses gewächs was introduced by the vdp growers’ association as its prestige dry wine category, such wines were usually also labelled as Spätlese trocken, but from vintage 2011 that option was discontinued.