VDP.ERSTE LAGE designates first-class vineyards with distinctive characteristics. The provide optimal growing conditions, as evidenced over a long period of time. The sites are carefully determined and demarcated by the VDP regional associations.
Traditional varieties that are best suited to a particular site or parcel, as prescribed by each region. For additional details, please see the regional list of permissible grape varieties at the end of this section.1
Reduced yields of 60/hl/ha
HARVEST METHOD AND RIPENESS LEVEL
Grapes are harvested selectively by hand and must be at least ripe enough to qualify for Spätlese status (minimum starting must weight of at least 85 degrees Oechsle).
The wines are produced exclusively by traditioinal winemaking techniques.
In addition to regular VDP estate inspections, quality-oriented measures in the vineyard are monitored in every site in which grapes for VDP.ERSTE LAGE are grown. Before receiving VDP.ERSTE LAGE status, the wines are critically tasted, evaluated, and examined for compliance with regional guidelines.
A dry wine from a VDP.ERSTE LAGE is labeled Qualitätswein trocken and does not bear a Prädikat.2
A wine that legally qualifies as an off-dry Qualitätswein needs no additional terminology – the use of the adjective halbtrocken is optional. The same applies to the adjective feinherb.
VDP.ERSTE LAGE wines with residual sweetness are labeled with one of the traditional Prädikats (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese), provided they qualify for a specific Prädikat.
A combination of the name of the village and site is the appellation of origin of a VDP.ERSTE LAGE wine. It is indicated on the label along with the name of the wine estate and the grape variety. The use of a strip on the capsule to identify a VDP.ERSTE LAGE wine is mandatory.
VDP.ERSTE LAGE wines make their market debut at the annual Mainzer Weinbörse trade fair at the end of April, in the year after which the grapes were harvested.
1 In addition to the grape varieties permitted for VDP.GROSSE LAGE, the regional associations have approved the following varieties for VDP.ERSTE LAGE:
Baden: Silvaner, Scheurebe, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc, Auxerrois, Schwarzriesling; exclusively for lusciously sweet wines: Rieslaner
Franken: Grauburgunder, Scheurebe, Rieslaner, Traminer, Frühburgunder; by special request: Müller-Thurgau, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muskateller, Lemberger
Pfalz: Grauburgunder, Chardonnay; exclusively for wines with residual sweetness: Scheurebe, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller
Saale-Unstrut: Blauer Zweigelt
Württemberg: Silvaner, Chardonnay, Muskattrollinger, Gewürztraminer, Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc, Samtrot, Schwarzriesling, Trollinger
2 Wines that legally qualify as off-dry (halbtrocken) Kabinett wines are permitted to be labeled as such during the grace period that ends in 2015. They have a minimum residual sugar content of 12 grams/liter.