With German wine estates currently getting ready for the release of their 2020 vintage, it is a good time though to take a look back and summarise which wineries have made it to the top of the wine guides and reviews published for 2021. Our list hereunder features the lot of wine estates on the absolute top of the German wine crop - world class according to the consensus of the most respected independent German wine guides such as Eichelmann, Gault Millau, and Vinum (for the detailed assessments of the estates please revert to the wine guides directly).
…in the wine region of Ahr
In one of Germany’s smallest winemaking area the estates Meyer Näkel, Jean Stodden, and Deutzerhof take the lead. They top the rankings with outstanding Spätburgunders (Pinot Noirs), the signature varietal of the Ahr River valley.
… in the wine region of Baden
Also, Baden stands out as a wine region for red wines, particularly Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) – but also the other varietals of the Pinot Family, Grauburgunder, Weisser Burgunder, and Chardonnay thrive in the warm climate of this region. The estates considered world class in Baden are Huber, Dr. Heger, Franz Keller, Salwey, and Wassmer.
… in the wine region of Franken
The estates Rudolf Fürst and Zehnthof Luckert are unanimously considered world class. The signature varietal of Franken is Sylvaner, and while Fürst is best known for its Spätburgunders (Pinot Noirs), Luckert gets rave reviews for its interpretations of Silvaner.
… in the wine region of Mittelrhein
The Mittelrhein Valley – also one of the smallest wine regions of Germany - is commonly more known for its sights than for its wines. The top estates here are Matthias Müller and Weingart, both located in Spay, and both are best known for their Rieslings.
… in the wine region of Mosel
Clemens Busch, Schloss Lieser, Markus Molitor, Fritz Haag, Selbach-Oster, Franz Josef Eiffel and Egon Müller are undisputedly rated as some of the best in this world famous riesling growing region.
… in the wine region of the Nahe valley
There is clear consensus here: Dönnhoff, Emrich Schönleber and Schäfer-Fröhlich lead the pack with their world class Riesling programmes. (To avoid any doubt… it is not a prerequisite to carry an umlaut Ö in your estates name to be amongst the top vintners of Nahe 😁)
… in the wine region of Pfalz
Christmann, Knipser, Ökonomierat Rebholz, Bassermann-Jordan, Bürklin-Wolf come out on top of the lists. These estates produce some of the most sought-after Rieslings and Spätburgunders of Germany. It is worth noting that Bürklin-Wolf and Rebholz are wine estates following biodynamic principles.
… in the wine region of Rheingau
In Rheingau Riesling rules. For years already the wineries Georg Breuer, Peter Jakob Kühn, and Robert Weil are considered world class Riesling producers. (The region is also well known for its historic estates Johannisberg, Vollrads and Kloster Eberbach.)
.. in the region of Rheinhessen
For years already the estate Keller is making international news with its G-Max Riesling, the most expensive German dry wine. But also, Wittmann, Battenfeld-Spanier and Kühling-Gillot (technically one estate) as well as Sekt-specialist Raumland are unanimously considered world class wine producers in Rheinhessen, Germany’s largest winemaking region.
… in the wine region of Württemberg
Aldinger and Schnaitmann are on top of the rankings – if you get a chance, try their Lemberger. Lemberger, aka Blaufränkisch, a varietal particular to Württemberg that is inching its way into the limelight.
What about the regions Saale Unstrut, Sachsen, Hessische Bergstrasse I hear you ask? There are excellent wineries in these small regions, too, but not to a level that the wine guides would have attributed to world class.
It is still worth keeping in mind that high ranks very rarely equal to affordability or accessibility. Very often the second and third tier wineries provide amazing tasting and visiting experiences. The three printed wine guides portrait in average a thousand estates that produce wine in great quality. Many of these make for great personal discoveries!