Hahaha, Readers, it’s a trick question, the answer to which is not “yes or no” but “yes and no.” It’s a truism of the wine industry that German wine regulations are the most confounding and confusing in the world. Since 1971, when the laws were codified, revisions have occurred several times, including in 2009 under the dictates of the European Union. Every wave of alterations promises to make matters easier on consumers, but those good intentions tend to fly out the window and leave things just as muddled as they were before. My goal today is not to give My Readers a complete lesson on German wine regulations and how to read the label on a bottle of German wine but simply to clarify the points of the so-called Prädikatswein, renamed from Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (superior quality wine) in 2007. The catch is that this category dies not guarantee the “superior quality” of the wine in the bottle but indicates the level of ripeness of the grapes and the relative time of harvest, giving consumers a rough guide to the sweetness of the wines.

Kabinett – implies fully ripened grapes from the main harvest, meaning not late-harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can be dry if designated so.
Spätlese – meaning “late harvest,” typically half-dry, often (but not always) sweeter and fruitier than Kabinett. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper.
Auslese – meaning “select harvest,” made from very ripe, hand selected bunches, typically semi-sweet or sweet, sometimes with some noble rot character.
Beerenauslese – meaning “select berry harvest,” made from overripe grapes individually selected from bunches and often affected by noble rot, making rich sweet dessert wines.
Eiswein (ice wine) — made from grapes that have been naturally frozen on the vine, making a very concentrated and indubitably sweet wine.
Trockenbeerenauslese – meaning “select dry berry harvest” or “dry berry selection,” made from overripe shriveled grapes often affected by noble rot making extremely rich sweet wines. “Trocken” in this phrase refers to the grapes being dried on the vine rather than the resulting wine being a dry style.

So, the five wines discussed today all carry the Kabinett designation, all exhibit various levels of sweetness on the entry but slide into dryness from mid-palate back through the finish because of the sometimes exquisitely bright acidity and the presence of mitigating limestone and flint minerality.

Unless otherwise indicated, these wines were samples for review.
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Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Wehlaner Sonnenwehr Riesling Kabinett 2014, Mosel. The color, so to speak, is pale pale bergweilerephemeral gold; aromas balance green apple, peach and pear, lychee and honeysuckle. In the mouth, this hovers delicately between medium dry and medium sweet; the texture floats cloud-like softness riven by bright acidity to a dry, faceted finish laden with hints of loamy earthiness and intense limestone minerality. 8.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2018 to 2020. Very Good+. About $22.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Weingut Darting Durkheimer Hochbenn Riesling Kabinett 2014, Pfalz. The overall impression of this very pale dartinggold-hued riesling is of fine-boned delicacy and chiseled elegance; notes of peach, lychee and petrol offer petals — as it were — of lilac and jasmine, while lively acidity keeps the wine animated and flowing on the palate and nicely balanced with a tendency toward dryness. Drink up. Very Good+. About $20, a local purchase.
A Therry Theise Selection, Skurnick Wines, New York.
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Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 2015, Mosel. The color is very pale straw-gold; notes of lychee and peaches are highlighted by jasmine and honeysuckle, quince and crystallized ginger, with undertones of petrol and cloves. It’s slightly honeyed, a bit over-ripe but well-balanced by chiming acidity and a dry finish etched with limestone; currents of earth keep it grounded. 8.2% alcohol. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $22.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett 2013, Rheinhessen. A golden wine, vibrant in its schneiderpale gold color, rich in aromas of apples, pears and spiced peaches, jasmine and honeysuckle; yes, it’s sweet, like a nectar of honeydew and apricots, but it glides into dryness across the palate, where it funnels into a finish hewn from limestone and flint; a few moments in the glass add notes of rubber eraser, ginger and quince. It’s a lively, vibrant, irresistible wine packed with personality. 8.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $15, an Incredible Bargain.
Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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jj_prum_graacher_kab_11_750
Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2011, Mosel. Opens with a shimmering pale gold color and continues with a nose that’s earthy and musky, distinctive with notes of green apples and spiced pears, with a burgeoning effect of ripe peaches, jasmine and a whiff of petrol; the pungency and redolence are beguiling and authoritative. A moderately sweet entry segues into total dryness, abetted by blazing acidity, from mid-palate back through the finish, where a scintillating limestone and flint element dominates. 9.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2020 to ’23. Excellent. About $36, a local purchase.
A Rudi Wiest Selection, Cellars International, San Marcos, Calif.
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