If you’ve gotten into wine at all in your life, you’re probably aware that German Riesling is one of the most incredible wines in the world (and often a super value), but also incredibly difficult to comprehend. The labels in themselves are phenomenal works of code—and the familiar designations like kabinet, spätlese, etc are indecipherable to most people.
Well, for the best wines in the country there is a new designation called grosses gewächs, which is German for great growths. These wines, as you can see in the picture, have highly simplified labels, displaying only producer (Diel), vineyard, and grape variety. Great Growths are supposed to be equivalent to the French Grand Crus, which is their way of rating vineyards. To be a grosses gewächs, a wine must meet several criteria: it must be from an approved vineyard; have a restricted maximum yield; be hand-picked and processed according to traditional methods; and it must be approved by a tasting panel within the region. Best of all, these wines are dry, which solves the problem of sweetness that a lot of people have with German wines. The symbol for grosses gewächs is a wine with a bunch of grapes next to it, which you can see in the photo is embossed on the bottle above the label.
These fine wines were enjoyed where so much great Riesling is consumed—at the Slanted Door (slanteddoor.com) with exquisite Vietnamese food. Restaurant Gary Danko (garydanko.com), under sommelier Jason Alexander, also has amassed an incredible selection. And when it comes to buying these wines at retail, there is no better shop in the world than our own Dee Vine wines on Pier 19 (dvw.com).