All about Prädikat Categories in a nutshell!
There are six different predicates, again with different minimum must weights depending on the grape variety and growing region.
Ice wine must be produced from grapes harvested in a frozen state minimum minus 7 degrees Celsius and pressed frozen so that only the fruit concentrate is pressed out.
We all know these terms: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese. For each Prädikat, there is a defined minimum must weight depending on the grape variety and wine-growing region. In southern wine-growing regions, the requirements are usually higher. In hardly any other country is there such a great differentiation in wine qualities as in Germany.
The Prädikats in ascending order:
- Kabinett: fine, light wines from ripe grapes with low alcohol content
- Spätlese: ripe, elegant wines with fine fruit, which are harvested a little later. These wines are more intense in flavor and concentration, but not necessarily sweet.
- Auslese: fine noble wines from fully ripe grapes, unripe berries are separated out. Often intense in aromas and taste but not always sweet.
- Beerenauslese (BA): full, fruity wines made from individually-selected, overripe berries that are usually infected by Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). These are rarities, harvested only when exceptional weather conditions enable the grapes to ripen to this extent. They are notable for their longevity (can be stored for decades). Remarkably rich, sweet dessert wines, or to be enjoyed by themselves.
- Ice wine: made from grapes as ripe as BA, but harvested when it is at least minus 7 degrees celsius and pressed while frozen so that only the fruit concentrate is squeezed out. Truly unique wines with a remarkable concentration of fruity acidity and sweetness. They are becoming more of a rarity as Germany experiences warmer winters and the minimum temperature needed for harvesting is occurring less often.
- Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): This is the top of the quality pyramid, rare wines from shrunken, shriveled, noble rot berries, that cannot be harvested every vintage. These rich, sweet, luscious, honey-like wines can age for decades.
Prädikatswein and Qualitätswein must come 100% from one of the 13 German growing regions and have passed the quality wine test. Quality wines may be enriched (chaptalised) with a legally limited amount of sugar before fermentation in order to increase the alcohol content. Prädikat wines may not be enriched.
Which wines are at the top of the Prädikat pyramid?
Trockenbeerenauslesen: Made from raisin-like shriveled, noble rotten berries, Trockenbeerenauslese is the top of the quality pyramid; sweet and honeyed, it has an extreme aging ability of decades.