Updated: Mar 31
A quick introduction to the VDP classification so you know what to look for on your wine travels.
In short what is the VDP?
The VDP is a winemaking association ( and short for the above tongue twisting title) of about 202 selected members. The members must focus on nurturing their unique regional / village terroir, showcasing traditional varietals to Grand Cru status by working with limited yields to ensure depth and quality. They are proud winemakers who where possible make wines with a lot of hand and heart work.
And while I could go into its history and politics I think its more important and practical to focus on their guiding classification model that is used to qualify their wines so you know what your swirl, sniffing and slurping when you find an eagle in your glass.
The VDP Classification model
The VDP classification model has 3-4 ( depends on region) tiers representing the quality parameters used to produce the wine. Sometimes called the pyramid of quality it is similar to what you find in burgundy going from basic or entry level estate "Gutsweins" wines from a mix of vineyards and made in quantity ( think of a hamburger)...lets say for around €10 a bottle. To the top "GG" Grosses Gewächs - Grosse Lage wines ( these are the best waygu fillet steaks) or "Grand Cru Wines" made in limited amounts, released after longer periods on the lees and bottling to allow development and retail for about €35+ a bottle.
Below in more detail what defines each quality level starting at the top!
VDP.GROSSE LAGE are hand picked and designates the highest quality German vineyards. With a focus on yield reduction of by about 40-50% The locations are narrowly demarcated to fine parcels that produce the best wines expressing terroir and with special aging potential. They are planted with regionally defined grape varieties that match the respective vineyard. The dry wine from VDP. GROSSE LAGE is called VDP. GROSSES GEWÄCHS and labeled as " Qualitätswein trocken ". Naturally and nobly sweet wines carry the classic Prädikat levels.
TIP! These wines have several years of ageing potential. GG Rieslings fro example only start to show up or start talking - showing their full expressions around 5+years!
VDP.ERSTE LAGE Hand Picked. Designates first-class vineyards with their own character, in which optimal growth conditions prevail and wines have been produced over a long period of time with sustainably high quality. They are planted with regionally defined grape varieties. The dry wine from VDP. ERSTE LAGE is labeled "Qualitätswein trocken". Naturally and nobly sweet wines carry the classic Prädikat levels.
VDP.ORTSWEINE come from the best vineyards within a town and are planted with typical grape varieties. The dry VDP.ORTSWEIN is labeled "Qualitätswein trocken". Naturally and nobly sweet VDP.ORTSWEINE carry the classic Prädikat levels of Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Bererenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese or Eiswein.
VDP.GUTSWEINE are the entry into the origin-oriented quality hierarchy of the VDP wine estates. The wines come from a mix of estate's own vineyards and meet the strict VDP standards.
You can find out more about the VDP and its classification https://www.vdp.de/en/the-wines/classification
Thirsty to learn more. Join me on a wine tour and I will let you tases your way throuhgh the VDP classification from VDP acclaimed estates but also so you can compare to smaller boutique and up and coming winemakers. Experience for yourself the difference in qualities, tasting different wine making house styles across unique terroir. if this makes you thirsty then reach out for a grape escape.