Spätlese

German spätlese (/shpāt-lās-ǝ/) wine is the second of the six subcategories of prädikatswein in terms of grape ripeness. Grapes used to make spätlese wine famously achieve their higher öchsle measurement by being left on the vine to continue ripening for a couple extra weeks longer than the grapes harvested to make kabinett wine. The literal meaning of the German word spätlese is “late harvest.” German law requires a minimum 76-90 degrees öchsle for grapes used to make spätlese wine. Spätlese wine, like kabinett wine, makes up a major portion of total prädikatswein produced. In 2011, about 42% of all prädikatswein was spätlese.

Spätlese wine is normally fuller bodied than kabinett wine and has more profound flavors. It also usually has a slightly increased level of alcohol and is common as dry (“trocken”/trō-ken/), medium-dry (“halbtrocken”/hallp-trō-ken/), and sweet (“süss”/zūs/). Spätlese riesling characteristically has profound apricot, pineapple, apple, and quince flavors when young and honeydew and papaya as it ages. The wineries Hans Bausch and Weegmüller both have good spätlese wines.