The date of picking the first grapes of the season is one of the most important decisions to make in wine. Pick too early and you’ll have mouth stripping acidity and no flavour, too late and you’ll have a mouth full of syrup and be gasping for a glass of water. Generations of winemakers, through a bit of science and a lot of trial and error, have come up with regional guesstimates of when you should start, but this year is very different. Just ask the Germans.
The German Wine Institute have released their intention to start picking their early ripeners by this weekend. That’s right folks, the 3rdof August! That’s nearly a month before they’d usually start. And it’s all down to the heatwave that’s held Europe in its grip for the last few weeks.
Heatwaves like the one we’re experiencing aren’t always a bad thing. The English winemakers will be laughing their way to the bladder press with a bumper crop of ripe and juicy grapes not seen on these shores for…well…probably ever.
In Germany, a huge proportion of grapes grown are for quite basic table wine. They’re not after perfection. Ripe and a good volume and it’s happy days. And again, that’s what they’ve got.
I guess the biggest worry, as ever, is the finer wines. Germany makes some of the finest white wines in the world, with the Riesling grape taking a dominant position in the high end wine market over there. A hasty ripening and an early September harvest might not be the best thing for flavour concentration or complexity and length of finish. I guess we’ll find out.
But in the mean time, to all the grape pickers of Germany, remember the slip, slap, slop!!