German exports of Riesling reached their highest level ever in 2006, according to the latest figures from Wines of Germany.

According to its report, exports reached 2.9m hl (hectolitres) and producers received previously unheard of prices of €193 per hl last year, €79 more than in 1993.

The UK continues to be the largest export market for German wine, with the value of retail sales increasing by 6.7% over the last year and sales of wines priced over £5 up by 22% since 2004.

In the USA, the value of German wine sales has risen by 27.2% over the last year and the volume by 15.6%. The rise in demand, coupled with a series of lower than average harvest yields means that many producers have little of the acclaimed 2006 vintage left to sell. However, prices are expected to stabilise this year, with winemakers predicting a good quality and larger-yielding harvest in 2007.

However, not all are happy, with exports not always matching production.

‘Despite the good results, we still have an image problem in our export markets with dry Rieslings,’ Contstantin Salm of Prinz zu Salm-Dalberg in the Nahe region told decanter.com. ‘In Germany, we are making 60% dry-style wines, but we still export the fruitier, sweeter styles.’

In Germany itself, red wine is on the rise, currently standing at 54% of all wine consumed. Production is also increasingly given over to red wine and red grape varieties now account for 37% of German plantings. Germany is the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir, with more land under this variety than Australia, New Zealand and Chile combined.

Written by Jane Anson