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The Incredible Shrinking Riesling: Germany's Gunderloch Offers Mini-Bottles

A new 100ml format gives consumers more opportunity to try rare and pricey dessert wines

Alison Napjus
Posted: April 27, 2006

As the saying goes, bigger isn't always better. For the first time, renowned German wine estate Gunderloch, located in the Rheinhessen region, is bottling four of its dessert wines in 100ml bottles, to be sold exclusively at U.S. restaurants. The mini-bottles, which contain two small servings, are about one-quarter the size of the 375ml bottles commonly used for sweet wines.

The first wines available in this format are all Rieslings from the 2004 vintage: the Auslese Gold Cap Nackenheim Rothenberg (95 points, $91/375ml), the Beerenauslese Nackenheim Rothenberg (97, $201/375ml) and the Trockenbeerenauslese Nackenheim Rothenberg (98, $361/375ml), along with an Eiswein (not rated, $NA). All 3,456 of the 100ml bottles produced will be sold solely at prominent Las Vegas restaurants such as Picasso, Mix and Piero Selvaggio Valentino.

High quality dessert wines are a German treasure, but only a small percentage of wine drinkers ever have the opportunity to try them. The wines are made in extremely limited quantities, and the cost, even in the 375ml format, can be prohibitive for many people, especially with restaurant markups.

The 100ml bottling of the 2004 Eiswein is expected to be priced on top Las Vegas restaurant wine lists at $50 to $55, the Gold Cap Auslese at $60 to $65 and the Beerenauslese at $175 to $185. The TBA, of which there are only 564 bottles, will still be as much as $300.

Gunderloch's U.S. importer, Rudi Wiest of Cellars International, said they are offering these bottles for several reasons. "First, to broaden the name of the estate; second, to introduce the public to Germany's dessert wines; and finally, to spread out [the small amounts]." German dessert wines are often imported into the United States in miniscule quantities--sometimes as few as five cases, which totals only 120 bottles in the 375ml format. In the 100ml format, that same amount of wine would yield 450 bottles.

With the 2005 vintage, Gunderloch's mini-bottles will be available in restaurants across the United States. Cellars International plans to offer similar bottlings from other German producers.

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