First the scandals that destroyed the Austrian wine industry (Di-ethylene glycol used to increase must-weight) had connections with some German producers.
Second European air pollution, Chernobyl fall-out and the polluted Rhine and other rivers seriously compromised quality and acceptance of German wines.
Thirdly the world moved on from Liebfraumilch and the previously powerful brands like Blue Nun, Black Tower, Deinhards Green Label took a dive. To be fair the same thing happened to hybrid and Muller Thurgau brands in New Zealand like White Cloud and the 'Rieslings' and 'Moselles' from Australia but New Zealand, Australia, USA, South Africa and other countries had switched to and successfully marketed other varieties (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris etc) so the impact wasn't as great.
From the 90's on though, German Rieslings have come back with quality and seriousness making them not only truly great buys on quality but great buys on value (comparative to price movements of top wines from other countries. A German Riesling cannot beat the quality:value ratio of a New Zealand Riesling.)
Now Germany is producing top Pinot Noir and setting their sights to challenge France, USA and New Zealand.
|"First der frogs und zen der kiwis "|
In a recent comparative tasting in the UK with British trade professionals doing the tasting seven German Pinot Noirs made the top 10 (out of over 300 wines from all the serious Pinot Noir producing countries. The top 2 positions were from Oregon and the number 8 position went to New Zealand's Felton Road Block 5 2009. Now tastings like this can always be a bit dodgy and are 'on the day' depending on what wines were submitted to make the comparison but 7 out of 10 is significant.
We are warned!