Germany must show maturity

German producers must do more to ensure consumers can encounter mature examples of their wines, according to Christophe Graf, sales manager for Reichsrat von Buhl.

Speaking at an event to show off the Pfalz estate’s 2010 vintage, a year widely characterised in Germany by high acidity and concentration levels suited to long ageing, Graf remarked: “Estates have to work more seriously on releasing older stock into the market.”

Observing the “dramatic” change in his own wines during their first three years in bottle, Graf lamented the fact that they are often drunk before reaching their most attractive phase.

In particular, he drew attention to the extent of this problem in the wines’ domestic market, saying: “It’s a shame that in Germany people don’t really have a culture of drinking older wines.

“That yeastiness and grape-driven aroma is what they think the wines should taste like. We really have to start showing these people mature wines so they come back to the aroma you have to expect from a Grosses Gewächs.”

To help address this issue, von Buhl is currently offering some of its ’07 wines to restaurants.

Graf also outlined a project for next year, which he hopes will see his Ungeheuer Grosses Gewächs Riesling released in September rather than March, while its Kirchenstück equivalent might be kept back as much as “three or four years”.

For now, the estate’s UK agent, World Wine Agencies, offers customers the option of buying wines from its “Treasure Chamber” collection of older vintages.

WWA director Nicola Burston commented: “Typically out on the market you’ll see ’91s, ’95s, ’05s, ’07s and ’08s for the Grosses Gewächs with ’07 and ’89 auslese.”

She also highlighted the value offered by these older vintages, saying: “We very rarely raise prices for our back catalogue so you’re looking at £25 to £30 a bottle for many of them.”

Despite these efforts, Graf admitted that it would be “very hard” to keep back any wines from the very small 2010 vintage.

Just 60 bottles remain of the UK allocation, but Burston confirmed: “a little will be kept back for our treasure chamber to show the on-trade.”

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