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VDP classification

This classification is based on a statute governed by private law VDP (Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) and has no legislative function. The declared aim is to assess the value of the best locations ( individual layers ) Germany to restitute, to ensure the preservation of a unique cultural landscape, to win back the status of large dry wines from Germany and the importance of traditional fruit sweets Prädikatsweine emphasized. The statute defines the quality of a wine according to the widely used term “ terroir “, That means the origin in connection with the quality. The principle applies: “The narrower (smaller) the origin, the higher the quality”. The vineyard quality is defined by the ground with topographical location and the predominant climate or microclimate (see on this topic under Weinbauwürdigkeit ).

VDP classification - logo, quality pyramid and wine glass

Knowledge of the best locations and the appropriate ones based on their specific properties varieties results from centuries of experience of countless winegrowers. The locations are classified by the individual VDP regional associations in close coordination with their members. Old location ratings such as the Prussian location classification from the years 1868 and 1897. The classification of locations or wines in the VDP has a very long history. It started in 1984 when the Charter Rheingau, which then merged in 1999 in the VDP-Rheingau. From 1992 to 1998 took place in the growing areas palatinate and Rheinhessen Classification initiatives.

The VDP classification model describes the general framework of the Federal Association. However, these conditions are sometimes different or narrower in the individual growing areas. The VDP grape eagle guarantees the management of all wines by means of Biologically (ecologically) oriented viticulture, vinification exclusively using traditional methods, regular company audits, sensory Quality controls and certain marketing guidelines.

From the Nahe wine-growing region in 1997 Riesling Statute decided that this later became part of the VDP classification model. In July 1998, the VDP established uniform principles for classified plants of German origin of the highest quality than internationally comparable ones Grands Crus created. In July 2001, the VDP presented a three-tier model: Tier 1 - large growth from the best parts of first layers (which very often led to confusion due to the contradiction in nomenclature), Tier 2 - classified vineyard wines from first locations, Level 3 - estate wines and local wines. This model was valid for 11 years.

Four-tier quality pyramid

In January 2012, the further development of the VDP location classification with a four-level quality pyramid was decided in the following descending order, whereby this regulation became effective from the 2012 vintage:

  • VDP.ERSTE LAGE ® (optional)

The previous "first layers", which applied to dry and residual sweet top wines, are renamed to "large layers". This eliminates the contradiction between "first locations" and "large plants" and underscores the equality of fruit-sweet wines from top locations. This only solved the confusing nomenclature and did not create a new, higher-value category. The mention of the situation on the label is possible in the new classification only in the top two categories, with the second highest level being optional. The previous classified locations are critically examined with the aim of continuing to label only very good locations. This means that all locations that are not sufficiently meaningful with regard to terroir are eliminated. The use of layers is greatly reduced and is reserved for wines with a layered character.

The individual VDP regional associations in the cultivation areas can then introduce "first locations" as an additional hierarchy level. Even if this level has the same name as the highest category before, it is not identical to this (especially since it has been renamed), but is subordinate to the new "large layers" and contains layers other than this. The quality system was the inspiration for Burgundy With Grands Crus (Large locations) and Premiers Crus (First layers). When implementing the regions, the regions must first define their "large locations" and then optionally also indicate "first locations" if there is agreement between the regions. Each region therefore decides on the three or four stages of its origin. The option can be implemented at your own time. Simpler and medium-sized locations are included in the "estate wines" and "local wines" on the respective regional decision.

Every VDP member company can produce a dry, layered wine from any "large location" that it has and from any grape variety approved for it, which is then referred to as the "large greenhouse" with the location name and the grape variety. A wine can also be produced for the "first layers" for each layer and approved grape variety, but in contrast to the "large greenhouse" the place must also be named.

The predicates ( cabinet to Eiswein ) are reserved for residual and noble sweet layered wines - dry wines from "Large Layers" and "First Layers" cannot bear any predicate. The same applies to dry “local wines”; Only in the case of "estate wines" are predicates permitted in the dry as well as in the fruity and noble-sweet range, although the relationship between "dry" and the predicates decreases choice is prohibited upwards. The indication "dry" is mandatory for wines that have been suitably aged. The VDP regional associations independently determine specific taste profiles for all quality wines.

VDP.GROSSE LAGE® - The top of the vineyards

These absolute top locations or large plants are defined as "top-quality, precise parcel-defined terroirs, in which wines with a very special character mature, which reflect their origin and have a particular maturing potential":

  • Location mandatory
  • no location - the "big plant" speaks for itself, so to speak
  • grape varieties specified mandatory
  • dry (<9 g / l residual sugar ): "Big growth", predicate statement forbidden
  • medium-dry (9-18 g / l residual sugar): not specified, "semi-dry" or " feinherb “, Predicate information verb.
  • fruchtsüß and sweet (> 18 g / l residual sugar): mandatory information
  • maximum yield 50 hl / ha
  • selective hand picking required
  • Mostgewicht at least on Spätlese level
  • additional control of "quality-oriented work in the vineyard" u. sensory Examination of the wines
  • Mandatory marketing for fruit-sweet and noble-sweet quality wines not before May 1st of the harvest year, for "large plants" not before September 1st of the harvest year, for red wines not before September 1st two years after the harvest

VDP.ERSTE LAGE® - first class

This level is optional - it is not used by all regions. These locations are defined as "first-class vineyards with their own character, in which optimal growth conditions prevail and demonstrably long-term wines of high quality have been produced":

  • Location and location mandatory
  • Specification of grape varieties mandatory
  • dry (<9 g / l residual sugar): QbA dry, predicate specification prohibited
  • semi-dry (9-18 g / l residual sugar): no information, "semi-dry" or "fine dry", predicate verb.
  • fruit sweet and noble sweet (> 18 g / l residual sugar): mandatory information
  • regional requirements for approved grape varieties suitable for the vineyard
  • Maximum yield 60 hl / ha
  • selective hand picking required
  • Must weight at least at the late harvest level
  • additional control of "quality-oriented work in the vineyard" and sensory testing of the wines required
  • prescribed marketing of the wines not before the date of the VDP wine exchange (usually at the end of April), from year 2015 not before May 1st of the harvest year

VDP.ORTSWEIN - Ambassador of the best floors

Comes from "high quality, full of character and traditional" vineyards within a place, which are planted with typical grape varieties:

  • Location information prohibited
  • Location mandatory
  • Specification of grape varieties mandatory
  • dry (<9 g / l residual sugar): "QbA dry", predicate specification prohibited
  • semi-dry (9-18 g / l residual sugar): not specified, "semi-dry" or "fine dry", predicate verb.
  • fruit sweet and noble sweet (> 18 g / l residual sugar), predicate optional
  • Maximum yield 75 hl / ha
  • Hand picking required from selection level
  • For so-called terroir wines, the type of soil can be indicated on the label
  • Recommended marketing not before March 1st of the harvest year

VDP.GUTSWEIN - good from scratch

Comes from vineyard-owned vineyards, where at least 80% of the grape varieties that are recommended by the respective regional association are grown. Is defined as "base wines at a high level":

  • Location information prohibited
  • Location not allowed
  • Region information mandatory
  • Specification of grape varieties mandatory
  • dry (<9 g / l residual sugar): "QbA dry", predicate "Kabinett" or "late harvest" optional
  • semi-dry (9-18 g / l residual sugar): no information, "semi-dry" or "" fine dry ", predicate information opt.
  • fruit-sweet and noble sweet (> 18 g / l residual sugar): predicate optional
  • Maximum yield 75 hl / ha
  • Hand picking required from selection level


The growing areas can determine the approved grape varieties themselves. First, those for the large layers, in brackets those for the first layers are mentioned (no application = these growing areas do not take up the possibility of the first layer):

  • Ahr : Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Riesling only noble sweet, Pinot Noir (no application)
  • to bathe : Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Lemberger only in the two areas Badische Bergstraße and Kraichgau (Auxerrois, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller, Rieslaner only noble sweet, Sauvignon Blanc, Scheurebe, Silvaner, Black Riesling)
  • Franconia : Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Rieslaner, Scheurebe, Traminer, additionally on request: Chardonnay, Lemberger, Müller-Thurgau, Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Hessian mountain road : Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc (like Big Location)
  • middle Rhine : Riesling, Pinot Noir (no application)
  • Moselle : Riesling (no application)
  • Near : Riesling (no application)
  • palatinate : Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, (Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer only noble sweet, Muscatel, Scheurebe)
  • Rheingau : Riesling, Pinot Noir (like Big Location)
  • Rheinhessen : Riesling, Pinot Noir (no application)
  • Saale-Unstrut : Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir, Traminer, Pinot Blanc (Blauer Zweigelt)
  • Saxony : Frühburg., Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Traminer, Pinot Blanc (like Grosse Lage)
  • Wuerttemberg : Pinot Gris, Lemberger, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc (Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller, Muskattrollinger, Velvet Red, Sauvignon Blanc, Black Riesling, Silvaner, Trollinger)

Additional information

See a list of the various European classification systems under the keyword Grand Cru, The EU-wide classification system is under the keyword quality system described. Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the wine, sparkling wine and distillate types regulated by wine law are under the keyword winemaking contain. There is extensive wine law information under the keyword wine law,

Source: website of the VDP (Association of German Presidential Wineries)
Redakt. Assistance: Carsten M.
Come ; Freelance journalist and copywriter;
Images: © VDP

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