In my world an appreciation of all things vinous is a journey rather than a destination. I’ve recently been studying for my Level 2 WSET which caused me to reflect on some aspects of my journey.
It has in the main been quite Franco centric and the stimulus of learning more about grape varieties that I thought I knew has got me seeking out alternative expressions of them.
I love Pinot Noir, but my exposure has been almost exclusively Côte d’Or. I did get to try a few interesting Alsatian Pinots when in Ribeauville a few years ago but I’d not really tasted many Spätburgunder from the Pfalz, Ahr, Rheingau, Rheinhessen or Baden.
Serendipitously last week I saw a Tweet from Wines of Germany about an event called “Power to the Pinot (Noir ) wine tasting at the recently opened German Gymnasium in Kings Cross on Tuesday night. Having secured 2 tickets I eagerly made my way over there to start my German wine education.
Overwhelmed by the number of wines on tasting I decided that a strategic approach was required. I asked Emily, from Wines of Germany to recommend a different Pinot Noir from Ahr, Baden, Pfalz, and Rheinhessen. (Unfortunately the one I wanted to try from the Rheingau wasn’t available for tasting!).
The AHR region
This is the northern most wine producing region in Germany and is dominated by Pinot Noir with 4/5 of production producing stunning red wines with a good reputation.
2012 Spätburgunder Recher Herrenberg
Simply Wines Direct £36.99
The wine takes its name from the men of the nearby village of Rech, which owned the Saffenberg , which has these vineyards at its peak.
Grown on volcanic slate in a centrally inclined 60% gradient south-facing slope affording excellent conditions to capture the sun. The terroir lends itself to producing elegant, partly full-bodied Spätburgunder wines with a high aging potential.
The hand-picked, strictly selected grapes were temperature-controlled for 18 days, without stalks, and fermented on the mash. Malolactic fermentation took place during storage (17 months) in new and used barriques.
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby
Nose: Clean, red fruit with vegetal notes of mushroom
Palate: Dry with more pronounced red fruit and secondary characteristics of ageing such as vegetal and mushroom, medium tannin, high acidity, medium body with a medium finish.
Conclusion: A great example of Pinot Noir with continued ageing potential.
An ideal pairing with venison.
This Spätburgunder comes from the best parcels on their steep vineyards in Rech and Dernau. Similar soils and clay to the Herrenberg with south and southeast facing slopes.
The hand-picked grapes were strictly selected in the vineyard as well as in the winery on the sorting belt and 14 days temperature-controlled, without stalks, fermented on the mash. Then 16-month ageing in barriques.
Appearance: Clear, pale to medium ruby
Nose: Clean, red fruit.
Palate: Dry with more red fruits, noticeably raspberry and red cherry. High Acidity, high tannins, medium body, short finish.
Conclusion: A relatively young Pinot that is drinking well now but should gain more complexity with age like its older brother tasted just before.
An ideal pairing with lamb.
The BADEN Region
With a warm and sunny climate, Baden is the southernmost German region, stretching 240 miles from Lake Constance to Heidelberg. Much like neighbouring Alsace, there is a great tradition of wine and food in part inspired by the dry food friendly wines made from Weissburgunder and Spätburgunder grapes
2013 Pinot Noir Castelberg
Situated between the Black Forest and Rhine lies the fertile Markgraeflerland region. Martin Waßmer’s vineyards are located in the idyllic wine towns of Dottingen, Laufen, Auggen and Schlatt. Generations of locals have been working in viticulture here with the earliest recored vineyard in Schlatt in 1298. The wines are fermented with their own natural yeast and matured in wooden barrels usually for a period of 18 months.
Appearance: Clear, deep ruby.
Nose: Clean, medium to light intensity of plums.
Palate: Dry with red fruits and cherry. High acidity, high tannins, light body, medium smooth finish.
Conclusion: A good balanced example of German Pinot Noir, that is drinking well now but still has ageing potential .
An ideal pairing: Lamb
The PFALZ Region
Germany’s second largest wine growing region with a sunny climate that is similar to Alsace.
2014 Spätburgunder Bockenheimer
These vineyards are situated in the north of the Pfalz region with a cooler climate allowing for a longer maturation of the grapes, which gives their wines an expressive character.Some of their vines are over 40 years old grown on mineral-rich limestone soils which yield powerful wines with a fine acid structure. This wine sees at least 12 months maturation in oak.
Appearance: Clear, medium ruby.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity, plums
Palate: Dry, medium to high acidity, medium tannins, light to medium body, aromas of red cherry, with hints of violet and chocolate.
Conclusion: Well balanced very good example of Pinot Noir .
An ideal pairing: Lamb.
The RHEINHESSEN Region
This is Germany’s largest wine region accounting for twenty five percent of German vineyards area. It is situated in a valley of gentle rolling hills with many steep vineyard sites and a favourable climate
2012 Pinot Noir Eichelberg
Grown on volcanic soils with great ageing potential. 24 months in new oak barrels reduces acidity and softens tannins to fine grain finish for structure and elegance.
Appearance: Clear, deep ruby. Colour starting to change on rim.
Nose: Red fruits, raspberries, hints of vanilla and smoky violet notes
Palate: Dry, light to medium body, medium acidity, medium tannins, flavours of raspberry with further hints of violet and vanilla with a medium finish.
Conclusion: Complex and well balanced, overall my favourite of the tasting. Drinking well now but will keep yielding further complexity till 2022.
An ideal pairing: Rack of Lamb with a herb crust.