VDP Report on the 2012 Vintage

I have received a few months ago from Alexia Putze of the VDP the report on the new 2012 vintage. So I thought it would be nice to share it to those who might be interested. My impression of the vintage 2012 that I have tasted so far is very good and it will be another excellent year for German wines. However, crop’s size, especially in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, is much lower than last year. 2012 Rieslings are very aromatic, fruity and enjoyable; yet very elegant. And here is the report from VDP,

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Vintage 2012 – Ripe and Healthy Grapes Guarantee High Quality

VDP Prädikat Wine Estates are thoroughly satisfied with vintage 2012 and expect wines of good to very good quality

The bottom line of every vintage: crop quality and harvest conditions. The quality of VDP growers’ crop in 2012 was influenced not only by months of capricious weather but also by consistent, quality-oriented work in the vineyards throughout the year. “Mother Nature is not subject to regulations, including those of the VDP. The whims of the weath-er, which vary from region to region, are beyond our control. Yet, proper and appropriate actions and reactions to annu-ally recurring climatic conditions help us achieve the quality goals prescribed by the VDP,” notes Steffen Christmann, president of the VDP. The Prädikat Wine Estates. He adds: “This begins in the vineyard, and here, the work of VDP growers in all regions is outstanding and exemplary. The market can look forward to vintage 2012 with its broad selec-tion of first-class wines.

In their summary on weather patterns in 2012, meteorologists of the German Weather Service report that with the ex-ception of a very cold snap in early February, winter was relatively mild and wet, followed by a picture-perfect spring with little precipitation, lots of warmth, and sunshine. Between early April and mid-May there were considerable tem-perature swings. Moderate air temperatures made for an average summer, and as in 2011, it began with a mixture of sun, showers, and storms in June and July. It wasn’t until August that it felt like summer. The month was dry, very sunny, and at times, temperatures were extremely high. September was variable, but relatively dry and sunny. Unset-tled, cool, windy weather marked the first part of October, followed by lots of sun and nearly summerlike temperatures during the second half of the month. Nevertheless, October was generally cooler than usual. Last but not least, Novem-ber was par for the course: cold, damp, and cloudy, and there was scattered snow in sites at higher altitudes.

Assessments of vintage 2012 are as varied as each region’s respective weather, geographical stucture, and typical grape varieties.

The growing season for VDP growers in Franken was favorable, with no winter frost or hail damage. Temperature sum accumulation in 2012 approaches that of “super year” 2003. Thanks to a predominantly healthy crop, growers are opti-mistic about the potential quality of the new vintage. The weather was good as preliminary harvesting began. Bacchus and Pinots were the first to be picked. Silvaner and Riesling grapes were in top form and nearly all were of Prädikat-level quality. Growers anticipate powerful, yet fruity, wines that are brilliant and elegant.

Dry, sunny weather in September added the finishing touch to grapes in Rheinhessen. The crop was healthy and ripe. Silvaner and Pinots were ready to be harvested by early October, followed by completely ripened and aromatic Riesling grapes at the end of the month. Quality was above average. Good, solid everyday wines as well as first-class wines from individual sites are expected.

Although Nahe growers had to deal with a cold spell during blossoming, by the end of the growing season they were rewarded with an extremely healthy crop. Unfortunately, some estates report quantities well below the average of recent years, especially with regard to the Pinots Grau- and Weissburgunder. Harvesting in the small region began in mid-October. The crop – particularly Riesling, the region’s leading variety – was ripe and aromatic. Optimal acidity levels promise firm wines.

The size of this year’s crop in the Ahr was far smaller than anticipated. Unseasonably cool weather led to poor blossoming and natural yield reductions. Fortunately, opimal conditions during the rest of the growing season enabled grapes to remain healthy and ripen completely. Wines of every quality level can be produced, and particularly in the VDP.GROSSE LAGE segment, growers expect first-class wines. Young wines from grapes grown in prime sites are already showing sparkling clean fruit and mineral-driven elegance.

Germany’s third-largest growing region reports low yields in 2012, partly due to hail damage. Nevertheless, picking in Baden proceeded at a leisurely pace until rain set in during the second half of the harvest and put pressure on growers in some parcels. In general, the crop was healthy and must weights were decent. Several rounds of selective picking were absolutely necessary to achieve exceptional quality. All grape varieties reflect a very homogenous vintage. Despite their youth, wines from VDP.GROSSE LAGE sites already have great finesse. They are impressive, powerful wines with an excellent balance of fruit and body.

Yields were well below normal in the classic Riesling vineyards of the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer Valleys. Along the Mosel, the harvest began in mid-October. The grapes were healthy and of high, aromatic quality. Vintage 2012 is marked by clean fruit aromas; high must weights; racy, refreshing acidity; and a mineral-based expressiveness – all of which bode well for good to very good Riesling wines of every quality level. The grapes along the Saar and Ruwer reached optimal ripeness and were highly concentrated. The 2012 wines are expected to be firm and exceptionally aro-matic.

Growers in the Mittelrhein region had to cope with extreme weather conditions in 2012. All Pinots suffered frost dam-age. Wet weather during blossoming in early summer necessitated very labor-intensive vineyard care. By harvest time, which began on 10 October, there was little Pinot to pick, yet an extremely small quantity of healthy, concentrated grapes could be brought in. Growers had better luck with Riesling: the loss in volume was not as severe. The new wines already have lovely, clean fruit aromas, underpinned by fascinating mineral notes.

The growing season in Württemberg was marked by moderate, relatively stable weather. Nevertheless, yields were below the long-term average. On the other hand, healthy grapes with optimal must weights and excellent aromas could be harvested. In particular, Lemberger and the Pinots of outstanding quality are an auspicious sign for wines of equally high quality. The young wines are full-bodied, well-structured, and juicy. Their future looks promising.

Despite a few bouts of inclement weather in the course of the year, growers in the Pfalz report that they were able to harvest thoroughly healthy grapes with decent must weights. Varying levels of ripeness made it necessary to harvest selectively, in several stages. Yet, the time-consuming harvest by hand paid off. The young wines – Pinots and Riesling alike – show a high level of quality. Winemakers are already noting that the wines are not only powerful and aromatic; they are elegant wines with finesse.

Riesling began to blossom relatively early in the Rheingau, but the cool weather that set in soon thereafter caused very uneven fruit set. Nevertheless, good midsummer weather in July and August as well as warm weather in September enabled healthy grapes to develop and achieve high levels of ripeness. Cooler nighttime temperatures helped preserve acidity. By the beginning of October, the crop was in perfect condition and Riesling had reached optimal physiological ripeness – the harvest could begin. Extremely intense flavors and a ripe, harmonious acidity were the hallmarks of the crop, be it the grapes picked for Guts- and Ortsweine (regional and village wines) or those grown in VDP.ERSTE LAGE and VDP.GROSSE LAGE sites for top-quality dry and sweet wines. Depending on location, yields varied con-siderably among sites, In general, volume was more or less within the realm of the long-term average.

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