The German Wine page
Established in 1995, this site is a labour of love for author Peter Rhurberg, a native of Germany who claims he only discovered German wines whilst a student in Edinburgh! It is not the flashiest site on the Web, and it looks quite amateurish in an increasingly sophisticated cyberworld, but it has the best content of several sites devoted to German wines and it is easy to digest. Rhurberg's written English is good and he speaks plainly, but with authority. His essays on topics like Leibfraumilch are blunt and opinionated (it's safe to say he's not a huge fan). He does a decent job of trying to clarify some of Germany's obscure wine laws and regulations.
The reference material in this site is up to date and very reliable. Rhurberg's tasting notes and comments on German vintages, the quality of different regions and grape varieties are also of a very high standard.
The home page has a long list of links to the site's dozen or so sections. At the foot of every section and lower-level page is a link back to the home page. It's not exactly flexible, but it is straightforward enough.
Load speeds are variable: good with the text-only pages or those with simple graphics. A few pages are long and take a little while.
The bulk of the material is pretty static reference data, though tasting notes are added on a more or less monthly basis.
Regions and Producers An active map lets you click on a wine region for a complete run down on the area, its geography and history, grape varieties grown and top producers. The author adds his own comments on the style and quality of wines from the region and provides links to further reading and relevant websites.
Labels One of the greatest barriers to appreciating the best German wines (which are far removed from cheap, off-dry plonk) is understanding their complex and intimidating labels. This guide does a fine job of explaining what each labelling term actually means and gives you the necessary detail to make an informed choice.
Vintages In a marginal vine-growing climate like much of Germany, vintage can be all important. This gives a quality rating to all vintages back to the 1920's, along with a detailed report on vintages in the 1990's. A very useful resource if you are buying German wines.
Tasting notes Rhurberg has amassed a significant collection of well-written notes on wines he has tasted over the years since 1997. The vast majority of these are for German wines. A search facility is badly needed, as the chronological listing isn't too useful if trying to find a note on a particular wine.
Essays Rhurberg gives vent to his frustrations with a small selection of essays. Titles include: What's wrong with German wine?' and Dry or sweet?', a study of the issues surrounding moves in the German wine industry to re-style their wines according to the marketplace.
There's a good deal of background information and educational material on buying, ageing and serving German wines, on matching German wine with food and on the finer technical details of must weights and sugar levels. The history of German wine-making is also covered and reference sections offer suggested further reading and links.
The German Wine Page is thoughtful and well researched. Not a glossy commercial site, it presents opinions warts 'n all, but always from the position of someone who clearly loves the subject. There's something here for everyone, from those needing to be tempted into discovering what Germany has to offer beyond Blue Nun and Black Tower, to established enthusiasts who want hard data and considered opinion.