F+R have sourced a parcel of some of the finest Pinot Noirs coming out of Germany, a diverse region that is today arguably producing the most exciting Pinot Noirs in Europe, outside of Burgundy. Top examples are world class and offer both similarities and important differences to the Cote d’Or.
We arranged a tasting of some of the top picks including Jean Stodden, Klaus Peter Keller, Bernhard Huber and Dr. Heger. The variety on offer just from these handful of wines showed the incredible potential of the region for top Pinot production. With Pinot’s inherent ability to express terroir we found a huge range in structure and flavor profiles from different single vineyard sites.
Prior to our mixed case offer of these top producers out next week, the tasting helped us map out the different terroirs in Germany as well as the typical profiles of these top producers.
rich diversity in soils, climate and clones throughout the Pinot growing
regions of Germany, there is plenty to discover, from the cooler climate, slate
soils of Ahr to the richer, more opulent Pinots of Baden. Pinot Noir’s amazing
ability to express terroir is the perfect vehicle for the variety and nuance to be had from the top
sites in Germany, which are dotted all around the fine wine regions of Germany including Mosel, Ahr,
Franken, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Baden and beyond.
In the last
20 years there has been a quality revolution in Germany, specifically with
Pinot Noir production, buoyed by the ever-increasing demand for Burgundy and
the intrinsic connections the Germans have with their contemporaries in
Burgundy. Many producers have strong links with the Cote d’Or either having
worked extensively in the region or from forging long-term friendships with
some of the top growers. Between the two regions there has been a real sharing
of knowledge from viticultural to winemaking techniques, exploring the
variations and nuance created by the distinct soils and the mix of both German
and Burgundian clones being used today in Germany.
trends in Pinot Noir production with a move towards earlier picking, less
extraction and a reduction in oak have helped further promote the diversity of
styles found throughout the German Pinot regions and allowed the top producers
to really shine in recent years.
throughout the world have been praising the results coming out from the top
producers of Germany. This Pinot Noir Revolution gripping Germany is well worth
getting excited about and we are thrilled to be able to offer a range of some
of the finest examples.
Stodden – Ahr
One of the
longest running wineries in Germany, the Jean Stodden estate has been producing
wine in Ahr since 1578. The wines are unique thanks to their very specific
terroir and incredibly cool climate and this shows in spades throughout their
range of wines, producing beguiling ethereal examples that are quite unlike
Burgundy but distinctly European.
is cool climate Pinot, with vineyards located 50km north of Mosel. The wines
only reach ripeness thanks to the steep south facing slopes grown on slate
soils that retain the heat in the vineyard. The Estate has just 6.5 hectares of
vineyards. This soil type, steepness and slate soil offers a completely
different style of Pinot Noir compared to the Cote d’Or.
the wines have an incredible line of acidity running through them,
distinctly more marked than Burgundy. There is amazing contrast here too. Tasting
the Sonnenburg Grand Cru alongside the Monchberg, these wines have completely
different personalities, the Sonnenburg is incredibly linear and focused on the
palate with great precision and pitch. The fruit is delicate and uber-fresh - sappy
cranberry, wild strawberry and earthy rhubarb flavours. This is one for all the
really is outstanding, and certainly worthy of Grand Cru status anywhere in the
world. Incredibly compact with tons going on. The spectrum of fruit goes from
fresh red fruit right through to meatier, savoury tones. The mid palate is striking –
weighty and viscous yet still has such delicacy and finesse. The length and
breadth of the wine is extraordinary and the contrast of the wine shows real
terroir in action. This wine is not cheap but its is stunning.
have quite a different tone to Burgundy but are full of European
etherealism. If you can find it, the Monchberg is one not to miss. World-Class!
Stodden Spatburgunder Herernberg Grosses Gewachs (GG)
Stodden include Hardtberg Spatburgunder GG
Monchberg Spatburgunder GG
Sonnenburg Spatburgunder GG
the Critics Say
– “From their home village Rech, Stodden's 2016 Recher Herrenberg
Spätburgunder GG shows a ruby-garnet color and an aroma of pure, fine slate but
warm, ripe fruit. Lush and intense on the palate, this is a full-bodied, quite
powerful and intense Pinot with a lingering juiciness and spicy slate flavor.
The 2016 is still very young, but its potential is enormous. Tasted during the
preview of the GG wines in Wiesbaden in August 2018. (93 Points, Stephan
Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)
2016 – “Alexander Stodden's 2016 Neuenahrer
Sonnenberg Spätburgunder GG is brighter in color than J.J. Adenauer's
Sonnenberg and shows a very ripe, slightly caramelly yet pure and slatey
bouquet with remarkable precision. Sweet, round and elegant on the palate, this
is an intense and refined Pinot Noir with good concentration, remarkable length
and a tight finish. This 2016 is excellent, but it needs time.” (91+ Points,
Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)
Molitor - Mosel
Starting from practically nothing in the early 1980s, Markus
Molitor has rapidly grown into one of the world's most respected winemakers,
with a list of accolades including Rising Star of the Year 1999 from Gault
& Millau, Winemaker of the Year 2014 from Falstaff and raft of huge critic
scores. He is also the proud owner of over sixty hectares of prime real estate
that Mosel Fine Wines - an independent review of Mosel Riesling - describe as a
*"who's who of Grand Cru between Erden to Bernkastel and the Southern
Molitor, like all producers in the Mosel, is most well known
for his Rieslings, with Pinot Noir just making up 4% of his plantings. However,
his top Pinot Noirs are becoming as collectible and as respected as his whites
and are rated amongst the finest in the world. He produces seven different Pinot
Noir cuvees in total.
“Try the most "simple" Pinot Noir Molitor is
bottling and you are already in the upper class of German Pinot Noir. His three
starred Pinots are mind-blowing and can compete with prestigious Grands Crus
from Burgundy.” – Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com
Keller – Rheinhessen
Egon Muller, Klaus-Peter Keller’s wines are the world's most collected and
prized wines coming from Germany, famously quoted by Jancis Robinson his
Riesling has been described as the Montrachet of Germany. Whilst his Rieslings
initially brought so much international fame to the winery, his Pinot Noirs
today also have a strong following. His 16 hectares of vines are predominantly
made up of Riesling plantings but he has a Grand Cru site for his Dalsheim
Spatburgunder grown on the Burgel Grosses Gewachs site. This Grand Cru has a
specific shell limestone soil more suitable for Pinot Noir than Riesling
production. Yields are minuscule with each vine reduced to just two bunches of
grapes and each individual cluster further halved. Klaus believes this helps to
increase the overall acidity allowing him to pick the grapes at full ripeness
whilst retaining freshness. His global recognition in a region more famous for
high yielding dirt cheap Liebfraumilch, has caused a quality revolution in
Rheinhessen, with more producers following in his footsteps.
Pinots are genuinely impressive, the wines capture the beguiling Pinot fragrance
and the finesse to the tannins are very close in style to top Burgundy. We
tasted the Frauenberg Grand Cru, the last of Keller’s Pinot Noir vineyards to
be harvested, being the coolest site and grown at altitude. The wine has
tremendous stony minerality, very precise fruit clarity and is not without
structure – think Clos de la Roche rather than Chambertin.
Burgel Spatburgunder GG
Morstein Felix Spatburgunder GG
the Critics Say
– “From French mass selections planted in 1996 and picked with 35
hectoliters per hectare, the 2013 Frauenberg Spätburgunder trocken GG has a
clear and subtle yet aromatic bouquet of red and dark berries (raspberries,
wild black berries, cassis), along with some flinty/smoky flavors. Intense,
concentrated and firm on the palate, this is a full-bodied, powerful and firmly
structured Pinot. It has a velvet texture, ripe and grippy tannins ,and a
persistently sweet and concentrated flavor of ripe cherries and red fruit jelly
in the finish. The wine has more power and body than the Bürge,l but also needs
more time to develop. It's from a cooler and windier plot, and always the last
Pinot harvested at Keller. The 2013 was aged in used barrels, whereas only the
2012 was still in new barrels until the malolactic fermentation was finished.
(92 Points, Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)
– “The 2014 Frauenberg Spätburgunder GG offers a ripe, yet precise,
fresh, well-focused and rather coolish Pinot aroma; it shows some very discreet
toast and mocha flavors highlighting the wild blackberry and dark cherry
aromas. Full-bodied, ripe and concentrated on the palate, this is an intense
and juicy, almost charming Pinot Noir from low yielding vines on limestone
bedrock (21 hectoliters per hectare). The finish is intense and powerful, but
well structured due to the stems on which the wine fermented for 21 days. The
finish is almost sweet, due to the ripeness (a word rarely used 30 years ago in
the higher altitudes of the Frauenberg), but is also very fresh and precise;
whereas the ripe tannins give the required grip and structure. This is a
promising wine with delicate fruit flavors, mineral freshness and probably more
power than the Bürgel; but at least at this moment, it maybe has less
transparency and finesse. (91-92 Points – Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate).
Huber – Baden
was seen as the German godfather of Pinot Noir and was one of the most
instrumental vignerons to improve the region's reputation for the varietal.
Working extensively with massal selection of clones, 10 – 15 different Pinot
clones exist within one vineyard. Huber’s style has always been centred around
creating a “nervosity” in his wines. The vineyards share a similar climate and
limestone soils of the Cote d’Or.
are distinctly smoky, meaty with both sweet cherry liqueur notes but also
greenness too. The Sommerhalde Grand Cru however is a real step-up form the
Alte Reben cuvee (made from declassified Grand Cru grapes). Even more
impressive was the Bienenberg Grosse Gewachs. You certainly get more weight in
these wines from Baden. The wines have rich broad textures on the palate and
the tannins more velvety and sturdy than the wines of Keller and Stodden with
have more finesse.
Huber Alte Reben Spatburgunder
Huber Sommerhalde Spatburgunder GG
Huber Malterdinger Bienenberg Spatburgunder “R”
the Critics Say
– “Cherry red and fresh in color, the 2015 Sommerhalde Spätburgunder GG
has a pure, very elegant and rather floral bouquet of fresh red fruits. Still a
bit reductive on the palate, this is an elegant, silky textured, fresh and
fruity Pinot Noir with firm but fine tannins and a long, complex and pretty
tight finish with reduced power. It is an impressive wine but the most closed
of Huber's 2015 GG Pinot quartet at this early moment. Tasted in Wiesbaden,
August 2017. (93 Points - Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)
Huber Malterdinger Bienenberg Spatburgundr “R”
– “Julian Huber's 2015 Bienenberg Spätburgunder GG shows a lovely, vital
ruby red color and opens a bit reductive still, with a clear, fresh and
well-defined bouquet of red fruits, crushed stones and spicy and floral aromas.
It is a full-bodied, firm, fresh and finessed Pinot Noir with a serious tannin
structure and persistent vitality. This is a terribly clear and precise Pinot,
and the finish is really cleansing and stimulating. Tasted at the "VDP
Grosses Gewächs" presentation in Wiesbaden, August 2017.” (92 Points - Stephan
Reinhardt, Wine Advocate)
Dr. Heger – Baden
One of the
more established domaines in Baden the winery has been in operation since 1935.
Today run by Joachim Heger who was understudy to Helmut Donnhoff, the winery
has never been in better shape, producing their unique expression of German
Pinot Noir thanks to the distinct volcanic soil found in their two main Grand
Cru sites of Winklerberg and Achkarrer Schlossberg.
we tasted were stunning. Whilst perhaps less complex in terms of fragrance at
least at this point, the palate has very fine textured tannins, tremendous
finesse - there is so much elegance to these wines and so much freshness, the
wines leave your mouth enlivened and salivating. Is this the effect of the
volcanic soils? Whilst clearly European in style this is again very different
to Pinot Noir from Burgundy but certainly as interesting and ethereal.
Winklerberg Spatburgunder GG
Schlossberg Spatburgunder GG
Winklerberg Spatburgunder GG
Furst – Franken
this prolific estate is run by Paul Furst who has continued to make further
improvements in their already world-renowned vineyards, further increasing the
planting density and replacing German clone vines with Burgundian clones. The
Estate comprises 20 hectares in total, of which 13 are planted on the
Centrafenberg Vineyard in Burgstadter, one of the most celebrated vineyards in
Germany. The site is made up of red sandstone, iron rich soils ideal for Pinot
Noir production. He also produces a Pinot Noir on the very steep slopes of
Schlossberg. Furst is famous for their tiny yields operating at ruthlessly low
production levels in order to maximise quality.
Schlossberg Spatburgunder GG
The Critics Say
Rudolf Furst Hundsruck Spatburgunder GG
The 2016 Hundsrück Spätburgunder GG is even more
fine and spicy on the nose than the Centgrafenberg. The palate is lush and firm
but also concentrated and very elegant, with remarkable finesse and aging
potential. This is great German Spätburgunder, and I am looking forward to
tasting it again with more time and more wine in my glass. Temporary score.
Tasted in Wiesbaden in August 2018 (94-95 Points – Stephan Reinhardt