From "Gutswein" to the "Große Lage"

The VDP Pyramid

The more precisely the origin is described, the more complex the wine is.

How to define quality? The VDP – Verband der deutschen Prädikatsweingüter was founded in 1910 as an association of natural wine auctioneers. In that year, a German wine law had defined natural wine as an outstanding quality that could only be achieved in the best vineyards in Germany. At that time, the climate was cold, so that highly ripe grapes could only grow in particularly protected sites. These sites were famous, wines from them were traded more expensively than wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. In 1971 there was a new wine law that linked wine quality to the sugar content in the grapes. Natural wine was renamed Prädikatswein, and the association also got a new name: VDP.

The quality of the wines was judged by the sugar content of the grape juice, measured in degrees Oechsle, and divided into Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese. Since the end of the 1980s, however, winegrowers have felt the onset of climate change. As average temperatures rose, so did the sugar content in the grapes, so that even the simplest wines could be called Spätlese. So what was the difference between them? The VDP was looking for a new system to describe which wines were simpler and which were more complex. It found the model for its new classification in the Burgundy quality pyramid.