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Is German wine classification becoming (?) more complicated

Just when I thought that I got the hang of German wine classification, I was looking at a recent showcase on the Lay & Wheeler website and felt confused. Quite a few of the Eva Fricke wines (from the Rheingau) bore the abbreviation QbA. Frenetic googling ensued, but not until I switched to German did I find my answer…

QbA - Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete - loosely translated as ‘Quality wine of a specific region’

It turns out that it is a subcategory of quality wine, together with the better known (to me at least) Pradikatswein. Have not seen QbA it before on a label. Sorry this is not more scientific, maybe it is only me confused by the German system.

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Qba has been around for ages - since 1971 I think. I nonetheless agree that German wine labelling laws can be most confusing.

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Yes, having read a bit, I also can see this is my ignorance. Hence I added that question mark in the middle of the title. Maybe it was just a side note in the WSET Level 3 curriculum that I did not register as much more focus was on going in detail over Predikatswein.

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I think it may be more prominent these days with quality producers wishing to move outside the more prescriptive QmP regulations.

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A more reliable German wine labelling system is the VDP classification. The VDP is a group of invite only producers (c. 200) who have tried to improve the specificity - and therefore the quality - of local wines.
There is an emphasis on low yields which is not part of the old classification in Germany. There are other producer organisations but VDP is the best known.
Their labelling is in addition to the legal requirements.
Have a look on-line where you can find more details - it’s very interesting.

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For example Qba wines allow for Chapitalisation, whereas QMP do not.

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Certainly common when I did my WSETs in the early 80s. Indeed I could even say Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete without difficulty.

And German wine was a major part of the British wine trade then.

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In addition to what others have mentioned, some producers prefer the Qba designation as it allows their wines to be labelled with greater brevity hopefully causing the consumer in markets outside Germany less confusion.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Fricke wines labelled as Qba would actually qualify as QmP, it’s just that they choose not to.

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A lot of the more modernist German producers do, especially if they want to forgo the QMP rules. Certainly if i saw a Fricke QBA I’d assume this was the case - rather than the idea that it was chapitalised!

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Nick, producers are not allowed to chaptalise at QMP level - as you said - but they can use sussreserve to sweeten the wine at this level.

In practice, sussreserve tends not be used past Kabinett and Spatlese levels.

I have just withdrawn a Scheurebe Kabinett from my reserves, will be a first for me (the combination, not Scheurebe or Kabinett)… I always thought of Kabinett as Riesling (I know, again my ignorance).

That’s right - can at QBA not QMP

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Muskateller Kabinett from Baden can be nice - never seen it in UK.

First is the grape variety, second the classification based on sweetness.

From my WSET days I still recall how it goes, from driest to sweetest
Kabinett
Spatlese
Auslese
Beerenauslese
Trockenbeerenauslese
Eiswein

So one can find any of these after any grape variety; Kabinett is not restricted to Riesling - as you have discovered

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The strict definition is potential alcohol content of the must (how much sugar is available to convert to alcohol during fermentation). This generally leads directly through into sweetness, but also throws up wines like Spatlese Trocken, which can take a little bit of getting used to.

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Ah those were the days. Now there are Kabinetts that can be feinherb or fruchsuss. And ausleses that can be fruchsuss or edelsuss. I guess this relates to sugar content even more exactly than before. And of course trocken wines that fit into all these categories now too! I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen the word Liebling on some labels too in the past. Pass the Liebling, Liebling!

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I’ve seen German wines labelled as such but not in the UK. I would guess, in the context of an Auslese, the terms differentiate and give an indication to the consumer, if it’s made from healthy ripe grapes or with a proportion of botrytis affected grapes. That is just an assumption though.

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Just a note: 67 Pall Mall has a series of on line talks at 18. (This was noted in the Musar strand yesterday.) Tonight is German wine.

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Yes my thought too

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Sorry: it wasn’t as good as the one on Musar yesterday. But worth keeping an eye on these.

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