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Estate wine

Lowest level in the VDP classification model; see there.

This classification is based on a private-law statute of the VDP (Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates) and has no legislative function. Its declared aim is to restore the value of Germany's best sites (single vineyard sites), to ensure the preservation of a unique cultural landscape, to regain the status of great dry wines from Germany and to emphasise the importance of the tradition-rich fruit-sweet Prädikat wines. The statute defines the quality of a wine according to the internationally widely used term "terroir", i.e. origin in connection with quality. The principle applies that "the closer (smaller) the origin, the higher the quality". Vineyard quality is defined by the soil with topographical position and the prevailing climate or microclimate (see also under winegrowing worthiness).

VDP-Klassifikation - Logo, Qualitäts-Pyramide und Weinglas

The knowledge about the best vineyard sites and the grape varieties that match them due to their specific characteristics results from centuries of experience of countless winegrowers. The classification of the sites is carried out by the individual VDP regional associations in close consultation with their members. Old site classifications such as the Prussian site classification from 1868 and 1897 were also used as a reference. The classification of sites or wines in the VDP has a very long history. It began in 1984 with the founding of the Charta Rheingau, which then merged into the VDP Rheingau in 1999. Between 1992 and 1998, classification initiatives took place in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen wine-growing regions.

The VDP classification model describes the general framework of the federal association. However, these are partly different or more narrowly defined in the individual growing regions. For all wines, the VDP grape eagle guarantees cultivation using organic (ecological) viticulture, vinification exclusively using traditional methods, regular farm inspections, sensory quality controls and certain marketing guidelines.

In 1997, the Nahe winegrowing region adopted a Riesling statute, which was later incorporated into the VDP classification model. In July 1998, the VDP created uniform principles for classified growths of German origin of the highest quality as internationally comparable Grands Crus. In 2001, a three-stage model was introduced by the VDP: Level 1 - Grosses Gewächs from best parts of Erste Lagen (which very often led to confusion due to nomenclature contradiction), Level 2 - classified Lagenweine from Erste Lagen, Level 3 - Gutsweine and Ortsweine. This model was valid for 11 years.

Four-level quality pyramid

In January 2012, it was decided to further develop the VDP vineyard classification with a four-level quality pyramid in the following descending order, with this regulation becoming valid from vintage 2012:

  • VDP.GROSSE LAGE® = Grosses Gewächs
  • VDP. Erste Lage® (optional)

The previous "Ersten Lagen", which applied to dry and residually sweet top wines, will be renamed "Grosse Lagen". This removes the contradiction between "Erste Lagen" and "Grossen Gewächsen" and underlines the equal status of fruit-sweet wines from top vineyards. This only solved the confusing nomenclature and did not create a new...

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Roman Horvath MW

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Roman Horvath MW
Domäne Wachau (Wachau)

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