Sparkling wine – Sekt / Perlwein / Secco

Latest news

  1. 15/07/18 – VDP German Prädikat Wine Estates establish a sekt classification based on the VDP Origin Pyramid.

What
Sekt is German for sparkling wine, 98% is made by the tank method.  The majority, about 85%, is plain Sekt made industrially as branded wine from imported European base wine. This gives a wine with a low abv, dry or off-dry style, cheap (€2-3 on the shelf) and low quality, for local consumption.

Deutscher Sekt is the quality end, mainly tank method, but there is a growing number of traditional method producers at the top quality level of Deutscher sekt b.a.  Both the latter use local riesling, pinot noir and chardonnay, in brut and extra-dry styles.

I have seen winzersekt (trans. winemaker’s sekt) described as a varietal vintage sekt, see [2], though the term does not appear to be universally linked to a vintage sekt, which is commonly labelled as sekt, along with the varietal and the year/vintage (jahrgang).

Interestingly, there is no mention at all of Sekt, in Stephan Reinhardt’s book The Finest Wines of Germany (2012).

There is also Secco/Perlwein, which is a lower pressure, 2.5 to 3.5atm sparkling wine, using the same varieties as Sekt. I have seen these wines marketed as ‘like Prosecco’, and I believe there is a move by the Prosecco Consorzio to have the (shortened) term ‘secco, which could be construed as imitating Prosecco, banned.

Where
The majority of Sekt production is concentrated in the Mosel, Rheingau and Wurttemburg, though it is made in all the wine regions.

Climate
Continental, cold winters and hot summers with long autumns; southerly exposure is aided by hillside plantings that are sometimes very steep.

Soils
Slate in the Mosel and Rheingau, limestone in Wurttemburg.

Marketing
The international Sekt market has been affected both by the perception of Sekt as an inferior product, and the high level of local consumption such that new markets are unnecessary.  Local volumes have been stagnating, and so the major producers are now looking further afield for new markets.

In 2007 just 25m bottles were exported.

Production

About 0.5bn bottles of Sekt (2011), with Germans consuming 335m litres or about 5l per capita.

Sekt production is dominated by 7 firms, with 85% of the total volume, that is more than 50m litres each, the top 3 produce between 100m and 250m bottles.  These firms use the tank method to process imported bulk base wine from Italy, France and Spain, and with no more than 10% of local grapes in the blend.  They do not own local vineyards, but buy in base wine.  Three of these firms are among the top 5 global sparkling wine producers, along with LVMH and Freixenet. There are about 2000 smaller producers.

Deutscher Sekt is made solely from grapes grown in Germany, again using the tank method. The smaller producers buy in local base wines, and producer-growers such as wine estates and grower co-ops produce their own base wines.

The top quality Sekt b.a. is made from grapes grown in the 13 quality regions of Germany. The traditional method is used, with a second fermentation in bottle, rather than tank, with a stated vintage and geographic origin.  These wines are €10+ on the shelf.

Viticulture
There is no regulation of grape varieties that can be used in producing Sekt.
Nevertheless, premium wines are made with locally grown varieties, including riesling, spatburgunder (pinot noir),  weissburgunder (pinot blanc), pinot gris and chardonnay.
The main growing regions are Rheingau, Mosel and Wurttemburg.
Minimum vines/ha – no information.
Max yield hl/ha – no information.
It seems likely that Sekt will be made in years when the weather conditions, and so level of ripeness, is not optimum for making still wine.

Vinification
Tank method in the majority, producing dry and off-dry wines.
Traditional method with small artisanal production of Sekt b.a., producing extra brut and brut wines.
For all Sekt there is a minimum 10% abv.
Minimum pressure 3.5 atm.

Ageing
Generally none, but aged examples do exist.

Style
Brut to off-dry.

Tasting note
Sekt b.a. Mosel Brut, full sparkling wine, pinot noir and pinot gris, traditional method, 12.5%

      • Medium intensity gold, small bubbles and tears.
      • Pronounced intensity, youthful, with aromas of peach, apricot, lychee, very ripe mango, with a slight toasty note.
      • A dry wine, with medium (+) acidity, no g, medium alcohol, medium (-) body, and medium (+) intensity flavours of peach, apricot and coconut.  An aggressive mousse, with medium persistence, and a long length.

References & further reading

  1. German Wine Institute – Sekt. [online] accessed 22/11/18.
  2. German Sekt: the next big thing [online] accessed 22/11/18.
  3. The Joy of Sekt – informative World of Fine Wine article. [online] accessed 22/11/18.
  4. Sekt guide – covers German and Austrian sekt [online] accessed 22/11/18.
  5. Exploring Sekt [online] accessed 23/11/18.

Updated 23/11/18

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in GERMANY, SPARKLING WORLDWIDE. Bookmark the permalink.

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