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Region Badstube?

Major vineyards in the new German wine law

10 August 2023
Werner Elflein

region-badstube.jpgPhoto: Pixabay
View of the Bernkastel Badstube

Consumer deception Großlage

The German major vineyards (Großlagen) were and are a nuisance. They disguise themselves as single vineyards and thus pretend to be something they are not. In fact, Großlagen usually extend over several villages. For example, the grapes for a Piesport Michelsberg do not only have to come from Piesport, but can also come from Rivenich, Neumagen-Dhron or Trittenheim. Quite rightly, the Großlagen are labelled as deceiving consumers.

However, the cobblers of the new wine law of 2021 could not bring themselves to abolish them. Instead, a lazy compromise was reached, and the disgrace of the Großlagen continues to be celebrated. In future, Großlagen will be recognisable by the word “Region” in front of them. At least in principle, because the minimum font size required by law for the word addition on the bottle label is just 1.2 millimetres.

The Piesport Michelsberg will now become Region Michelsberg. What at first glance seems to be well-intentioned, because a clearer distinction is now made between single vineyards and Großlagen, has in practice, however, almost absurd consequences. It is quite obvious that no one in the responsible federal ministry has seriously considered the real situation. Large-scale sites spanning several municipalities may be the rule. But there are exceptions, and precisely these deserve a closer look.

A small municipality as a region

In the post-war period until the 1980s, the Kröv Nacktarsch was a synonym for cheap and sweet mass wine. Numerous counterfeits brought the Nacktarsch into disrepute. The bad image acquired at that time still has an effect today. For about 20 years, the winegrowers of Kröv have been striving to polish up the battered reputation of their Großlage. These efforts are now experiencing a serious setback. Wines from the Kröv Nacktarsch will soon have to be marketed under the name Region Nacktarsch.

This is incomprehensible for the people in Kröv. Because the Nacktarsch – 95 percent of the site are steep slopes – lies completely within the boundaries of Kröv and is therefore not a region at all. The pragmatic idea of including Kröv as a word element in the name of the Großlage, thus at least making it possible to call the region Kröver Nacktarsch, meets with rejection by administration. The proposal, they say succinctly, would only serve to circumvent existing law.

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled — but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk.

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I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong. It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.