Wine is a giver of joy most of the time, unless you’re trying to decipher a German wine label. Those initiates who make it through the layers of verbiage form a secret pact to never enlighten anyone else about how it’s done. We’re a bit like The Magic Circle in that regard.
However a simple trick will at least get you a bottle that belongs to an elite producers club. Look for this logo:
The Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter, mercifully shortened to The VDP, is an association of 202 of the best wine estates across Germany which was founded in 1910. Membership is by invitation and producers have to abide by a stringent set of criteria, as their website indicates:
“The requirements for membership in the VDP are demanding and require adherence to self-imposed standards that well exceed the minimums prescribed by law. In addition to having their own winemaking and cellar facilities, members agree to reduced yields, higher starting must weights, and selective harvesting (for the finest wines, by hand) to foster higher quality. Their vineyards are planted primarily (80%) with traditional varietals, such as Riesling or the Pinot family, that are typical of their region. Members are obligated to care for their vines and soils in harmony with nature, i.e. practice ecologically friendly, sustainable viticulture, and use traditional winemaking techniques. Estates and their wines are inspected and certified on a regular basis to ensure ongoing high standards, from vineyard maintenance to cellar technology.”
Basically these guys are not messing around, they even have a Quality Guarantee. Handily The VDP has insisted on its members putting their prominent logo on the neck foil and labels of their bottles.
If you see the Eagle With Grapes then you are almost certainly getting a very nice bottle of German wine.
By Colin Thorne