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Published:  23 July, 2008

German wine producers have a perfect opportunity to change perceptions of their wines, according to Thierry Fontannaz, the 29-year-old head winemaker at Zimmermann-Graeff & Muller. Fontannaz was speaking at a seminar which opened the re-arranged generic German wine tasting at Vinopolis in London on 24 June. He said that Germany's largest wine producers are not only capable of making the modern, dry-style wines which the fastest-growing sector of the UK market demands, they are capable of producing the necessary volume with a consistently high quality. In the past, large exporters of German wine were forced to buy whatever wine they could find on the open market in order to satisfy demand,' said Fontannaz. The result was that quality could never be relied upon and was extremely variable. Today, we are not only producing our own wine, but we are controlling the quality of the grapes from the vineyards to the cellar. This radical change was a crucial step forward which has allowed us to compete in the international market,' he said. Jrgen Hofmann, director of winemaking at Reh Kendermann, said: We have also undergone extensive work in the vineyards with the growers and we are now adapting our packaging to the demands of the market.' Gerhard Brauer, managing director of Ruppertsberger, said: We realised in the mid-1990s that in order to be successful in the UK, we needed to change direction. We experimented with reducing and balancing acidity levels and it took us a few years, but now with reduced sugar levels we have developed new, drier style wines.' Fontannaz concluded: I believe that by producing market-orientated wines and backed by the "Classic" concept [the new category for basic dry German whites], German producers now have the perfect opportunity to change perceptions of German wine on the international market. What is needed is further education of the consumer and greater awareness of how our wine industry is changing.'