New Wave Germans from Savage Vines

Savage Vines is a dynamic young wine club and retailer, aiming to shake up the wine scene with a mission to “get you out of the supermarket and introduce you to new wine regions and grape varieties.” All of their wines are sourced directly from small, independent winemakers, and across the range there is a focus on organic and bio-dynamic wines made with minimum impact on the environment.

A growing area of interest for Savage Vines is Germany, but very much focused on ‘new wave’ Germany: dynamic young producers making mostly dry wines, and farming organically or biodynamically. They tend to buck the traditional German norms, making not just Riesling, but as in the samples below, wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, or Pinot Noir for example.

The flood of cheap, sweet and low quality Liebfraumilch and Piesporter in the 1970s and 80s has given German wines a residual image problem in the minds of some consumers, detracting from the superb quality of the country’s better wines. But another stumbling block to wider appeal has been the complex labelling and classification of the wines: the very fact that label information was some of the most detailed and precise in the wine world, made them fairly impenetrable to most consumers.

The German new wave is full of interest. Not only have labels been greatly simplified, but the wines tend towards trocken, or ‘dry’ style with little residual sugar, and ripening grapes fully has also helped make slightly richer wines with alcohol levels of 12%, 13%, even 14%, so they are drier with a more dense fruit and slightly softer acid character. Some of Savage Vines’ producers are members of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter or ‘VDP’, an association of quality-focused producers that was founded in 1910, who say the stand for “the avant-garde of German winemaking and a fierce opponent to mediocrity and mass-produced goods.”

Many of the wines from these producers do not carry the tradtional Prädikat designation (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, etc.), but may include unofficial classifications such as those adhered to by VDP members, such as ‘Gutswein’ (Good wine, from estate vineyards, but possibly non-traditional varieties for the area), through to ‘Grosse Lage’ (the ‘Grand Cru’ sites for the most serious and age-worthy wines).

Savage Vines is an online retailer where you can buy mixed cases or put together your own case at savagevines.co.uk, but they also operate a subscription club with flexible plans that let you chose how many wines per month, your preferred red/white mix, delivery day, and you can take a subscription ‘holiday’ or cancel at any time. If you re-order any wine from the monthly selection, you’ll get 25% off the normal per bottle price.

I recently received these three lovely wines to try for myself. At the same time, Savage Vines has offered wine-pages’ readers 10% off six or more bottles from these three producers, purchased from savagevines.co.uk, so it’s a good chance to buy these wines or try others from the same producers. Quote discount code ‘WP610’ at checkout.

The Wines

(2020) From Haidle's organic-certified vineyards in Würrtemberg, close to Stuttgart, this Riesling is only just - just - off-dry with 4.5g/l residual sugar, but it's relatively modest 6g/l of total acidity means it is a Riesling on the rounder, softer end of the spectrum, fruit-forward and juicy. Karl Haidle is a member of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) group, an invitation-only organisation of producers focused on quality. Aromas are delightful, sherbetty and limey, a little bit of wet river stones and salts, a punch of green apple. In the mouth some lees-ageing gives weight to the palate, the apple fruit and acidity are plentiful in terms of balance, giving this a dry, mineral finish. Savage Vines Subscribers' price: £10.49
(2020) Organic and biodynamic certified, and vegan-friendly, this Rheinhessen wine is 100% Chardonnay, grown on estate vineyards. Note the fully ripe 14% alcohol, in a bone-dry style. There's a touch of gold to the colour, and to the aromas too: golden delicious apples, a little burnished nuttiness, and a buttery richness. Oak is very discreet. On the palate it is full-textured and mouth-filling, there's plenty of pithy lemon and apple core dry acidity to maintain its direction and focus, and just hints of more tropical, mango and peach fruit, draped on the mid-palate. Savage Vines Subscribers' price: £11.96
(2020) Weingut Riffel is a certified organic producer, farming biodynamically, in the Rheinhessen region. This Pinot Gris, locally known as Grauer Burgunder, has just a smidgeon of residual sugar with 3.7g/l, but is ostensibly dry, though quite rich in style. There's something a little nutty or oatmeally on the nose over bold orange fruit, leading on to a palate with nuttiness and breadth again, but a pristine set of lemon and juicy red apple flavours, set against a fine acid framework, that teasing hint of sweetness just softening the finish into a savoury but juicy ending. Note that at time of review Savage Wines is offering wine-pages' readers 10% off any six bottles from three of their German producers, including Riffel. See New Wave Germans from Savage Vines.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.