The German importers Wine barn held their annual trade tasting at the German House in London on 12 January. This featured wines from all the important regions, focussing on the new ‘Grand Cru’ (Grosses Gewäches) wines. These are from designated top vineyards, and all appear to be made in the dry (trocken) style from superior grapes – most show an alcohol level of 13.5% compared with the Qba or Kabinett trockens at about 11%.

Wines from 14 producers were available to taste, many of them being served by the owner or winemaker, so considerable technical information was available. The line of tables started with sekt, the German sparkling wine normally only seem in London as a factory-made product. Sekthas Solter make their wines from Rheingau grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling), using the champagne method. The standard wines are about £13 and the reserve wines up to £25. My favourite was the standard level 2005 Riesling.

Weingut August Kesseler is also in the Rheingau, making top quality Ri4esling and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) wines in small quantites – their 2007 Grand Cru wines (over £30 a bottle) had already sold out. The top wine here was the 2005 Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder – from the Höllenberg vineyard in the village of Assmannshäus . Although only classed at the lowest quality wine level, it is made from old vines, and has intense concentration of fruit. And a price of £43 a bottle.

Further north on the Rhine is the Ahr region, which specialises in red wines. Meyer-Näkel is one of the top makers, making Spätburgunder wines from a number of sites. They have also planted a vineyard with a local close of Pinot Noir which ripens earlier and gives richer fruit (at the cost of low yields) they call this Frühburgunder. They use some oak aging on the wines, so that the 2006 Dernauer Pfarrwingert Frühburgunder was still rather prominent in structure. The local demand for red wines keeps the prices high, so the single vineyard wines fetch £32-38 a bottle.

The other fine wine region on the Rhine is Nahe. Two wineries were presenting from here. Göttelmann was set upin 1993 by Goetz Blessing and his wife in Münster-Sarmsheim, and is mainly planted with Riesling vines. Their dry spätlese 2007 Münsterer Dautenpflänzer already showed good promise (about £12) while the 2006 Münsterer Rheinberg Beerenauslese was rich, long, sweet and spicy – at a mere £30 for 50cl. Schäfer-Fröhlich, by contrast has been family owned for well over a century. Again they specialise in Riesling, aiming to produce clear, mineral wines. I found their 2007 Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg Grand Cru well rounded by needing a lot of time to develop (£29).

The Rheinpfalz and Rheinhessen regions are traditionally lower quality area, to the south of the river. Dr von Bassermann-Jordan (founded 1718, and with a Museum of Historical Wines dating back to 1706) is an exception in the Pfalz. Production of fine wines is all from Riesling grapes. Their wines are extremely expensive and built to age, the peak being their 2006 Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Trockenbeerenauslese at £135 a half bottle. This is the sweetest category, and the wines are made only from botrytised grapes. Wittmann dates back even further, to 1663. It is now an organic estate in the Hessen, close to the Baden region, with three Grand Cru sites. The 2007 Morstein Riesling Grand Cru was dense and powerful, already in balance but offering a lot of promise (£29).

I was disappointed that there was only one Mosel producer in the show – it is my favourite area. Weingut St Urbans-Hof were only showing their 2007 wines, which were too young for the Riesling character to develop.

In the south of Germany there are two fine wine regions, Baden and Franken. Baden is on the east bank of the Rhine , opposite Alsace . The wines are naturally more alcoholic than in the northern vineyards. The Kaiserstuhl (an extinct volcano) provides the best vineyard sites. Bercher grows Pinot Blanc, Gris and Noir here, plus some Bordeaux varieties). I found the 2007 Burkheimer Feuerberg Grand Cru Pinot Gris ( Grauer Burgunder ) had some varietal character and length, with a steely character that comes from the volcanic soil (£21). Dr Heger was founded in 1935, and again grows mostly Pinots. I found the whites rather drying, and preferred the 2005 Ihringer Winklerberg Spätburgunder which has hasd some oak aging (£39). Weingut Franz Keller is run from the Michelin starred Schwazer Adler restaurant and hotel. Here, the selection (blended) wines seemed more approachable than the single vineyard ones. The oak aged 2007 Grauburgunder was fully dryand had some character and good length (£19). The 2005 Spätburgunder showed the improvements that come from bottle aging, being rounder and more developed compared with the 2007 (£18).

Franken is the home of the Silvaner grape and the round (böks) bottle. The Wirsching family have been in charge of the estate since 1630, and Heinrich Wirsching is the 14 th generation winemaker. The 2007 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner (Grand Cru type) is round, balanced and has a long finish (£13). Some of the sweet wines are marvellous, especially the 2006 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner Beerenauslese, which has a marmalade character and huge length (£20 half bottle).

Further information on the wines above can be found in Ian's wine log