While I was shopping at Corti Brothers this afternoon, Darrell Corti showed me a report he'd just received concerning this fall's wine-grape harvest in Germany. If you are a longtime fan of riesling, or if you've just jumped aboard the riesling bandwagon that's been gaining traction, the report is distressing. In short, 2010 wasn't a kind growing year for German farmers.
An unsteady spring with uneven flowering was followed by hailstorms in June and July and unusually cold and steady rains in August and September. While some areas were less affected than others, yields overall were down between 30 percent and 40 percent generally, writes Ulrich Langguth of the MO-RHE-NA Wine Export Association, which represents nearly 20 estates in such regions as the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz. A cooperative near Heidelberg reported its smallest yield in 30 years. An estate in the Pfalz reported its lowest yield in a quarter of a century.
Langguth's report indicates that kabinett wines customarily sold in supermarkets will be most adversely affected by the shortfall, with prices possibly leaping 60 percent. Estate wines of spatlese, auslese and other categories will see less impact, with prices expected to climb only about 5 percent. While the riesling production tended to display unusually high acidity because of nights that were exceptionally cold, the overall quality of the vintage is expected to be fine, with plentiful fruit, solid structure and appealing mineral tones, suggests Langguth. There's just going to be a lot less riesling, especially at prices that have been attracting consumers curious about the buzz that the varietal is generating. Bottom line: Grab those starter rieslings now.