ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

If Johannisberg Riesling was phased out in January 2006, why is there still 2008 and 2009 Johannisberg Riesling being sold, like Chateau St. Jean?

—Jim M., Simi Valley, Calif.

Dear Jim,

You’re correct that the term “Johannisberg Riesling” is no longer allowed on U.S. wines, which must now be called either just “Riesling” or “White Riesling.” These days, the only time you should see “Johannisberg” on a bottle of wine is if it’s coming from the Johannisberg region of Germany and/or from the winery in that region named Schloss Johannisberg.

Chateau St. Jean dropped the “Johannisberg” name with the 2005 vintage. Explains winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, “The wines are the same as previous vintages, just the name was changed. I’m sure there are folks who still call it ‘Johannisberg Riesling’ anyway, as old habits die hard!”

Margo is correct, as it appears some wine shops are still using the outdated wording. I’m guessing that when they added Chateau St. Jean’s Riesling to their databases for inventory purposes, it was still called Johannisberg Riesling, and they haven’t updated their systems to reflect the change.

—Dr. Vinny


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