JWL Issue #083: A German Wine Special: Pinot and Bottle Labels

January 21, 2020

I’ve written this blog post about why I started The Wine List: it all centres around the fact that wine knowledge today is held by 0.1% of people – and I want to change that.

I was at a trade tasting on Monday focused on German wines. Riesling, Germany’s most well-known vinous export, is the favoured underdog of the English wine trade. And while the grape dominated yesterday, there were some incredible pinots: blancs, gris, and noirs. I’ll likely send out one or two of these in the future with TWLbut have featured one below – inc. a lesson on demystifying the German label.

I don’t have any commercial data to back this up, but my gut feeling was that last Saturday was the day that most people gave up Dry January. All the Peckham pubs were heaving, while I saw the Drapers Arms’ landlord Story they had their best trading yet of Jan. All over before I’ve found any alcohol free wines – are any of them any good yet?


I’ve had a couple bottles of 2018 De Chansac Carignan (£8.99 from Jeroboams). My main tip here is open it the day before you want to drink it. On the first day it feels slightly out of balance, but really comes to life on day two. Here you have brambly black cherries on the palate which come together nicely.

Elsewhere in Jeroboams, their 2016 white Rioja from Marques de Reinosa (£7.99) is a great youthful wine. I often like white Rioja for its texture and roundness, but here’s an entirely different style. Citrus dominates, softened by some herbs.

The 2015 Quercus (~£30 where available) from Weingut Allendorf, is a great example of how German pinot is some of the best value you can get. This is delicious: red fruits and earthiness in abundance, riper than you’d get for similar red Burg. There’s minerality here too.


Understanding a German label

Getting to grips with French wine labels may be one thing, but German ones can feel even hard to decrypt. We’re using the labels above to learn what you might look for.

  1. The name of the winery. Often prefaced by ‘Weingut’ (the German name for winer)
  2. Oberhausen is the village & Leistenberg is the vineyard
  3. Riesling is the grape (also look out for spätburgunder (pinot noir)
  4. Kabinett refers to the dry-sweetness scale, kabinett means dry.
  5. Vintage
  6. Region

As with varying qualities of other wines, not all features will be on all labels. But as a starting point the top wines will likely feature most of these points of information.

Like what you read?

From the archives: Sekt (German sparkling wine) special

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