Once really only known for white wine, Germany is gaining a name for red, which now makes up more than a third of its output. The prime grape German winemakers are focusing on is pinot noir.

Tricky as this varietal may be to grow and nurture into great wine, pinot noir (or “spatburgunder” as it is known in Germany) is the grape they all want to grow, from southern Baden up to northern Ahr region. There are now more than 12,000 hectares across the country growing this grape – making Germany the world’s third-largest producer of pinot noir after France and the USA.

 

Rosie’s recommendations:

Rheinpalz – Palataia pinot noir 2012

Gerd Stepp

(£8 each, reduced from £10, for case of 6, Marks & Spencer)
Gerd Stepp used to be a wine buyer for Marks & Spencer in the UK, before he decided to head back to his homeland to make his own wine on his family estate in the Pfalz. So he now sells to M&S instead, making wine alongside Matthias Gaul. This is a delicious, light, silky German pinot noir with plenty of character and complexity for the price – a great introduction to the German spatburgunder style. STAR VALUE BUY

Palataia pinot noir 2012. Picture: TSPL

Palataia pinot noir 2012. Picture: TSPL

Rheinpalz – Kalkmergel Spatburgunder 2012
Weingut Knipser
(£24.50, www.greatwesternwine.co.uk)
In a different league to the M&S wine, this has much more depth and focus – it would compare well to Kiwi Otago pinots coming in at the same price. Knipser is a new winery to me, but showing good potential.

Baden  – Jechtinger Spatburgunder 2012
Weingut Bercher
(£18, Oddbins)
This is from Baden’s second largest winery, based in the famous Kaiserstuhl – just over the river Rhine from Alsace. There are approachable, ripe raspberry fruit flavours and soft tannins, but it lacks depth and intensity for this price.

Baden – Enselberg Spatburgunder 2011

Weingut Karl H Johner

(£19.99, Waitrose)
A clear winner in our tasting with its sweet, succulent ripe fruits, beautifully balanced palate and velvet soft smooth tannins. Made by the well-travelled Karl, who makes wine in a very Burgundian traditional manner. STAR BUY

Baden –  Malterdinger 2011

Weingut Bernard Huber

(£22, L’Art du Vin, Dunfermline, www.aduv.co.uk)

On the site where Cistercian monks first planted vines in southern Baden, Huber’s impressive estate makes superb perfumed, silky, richly fruity pinot noirs. Try their old vine (Alte Reben) too at £30. Sadly Bernard Huber died recently, but his son is continuing to run the estate in the same vein.

Rheinhessen – Saulheimer Holle Spatburgunder 2011
Weingut Thorle
(£25, www.carteblanchewines.com)
From an organically-run vineyard by the Thorle brothers, this shows good promise, although it is not the finest German pinot I have tasted. The 2011 has ripe fruits and good balancing acidity.

Franken – Buntsandstein Spatburgunder 2012
Weingut Klingenberg
(£30, www.germanwineagencies.co.uk)
A different style again with a lovely aroma and great finesse – this time from the easterly Franken region better known for its Silvaner white wines.

Ahr – Herrenberg GG Spatburgunder 2011
Weingut Jean Stodden
(£100, Berry Bros & Rudd,
www.bbr.com; The Wine Barn, www.thewinebarn.co.uk)
Gulp! Yes Ahr pinot noirs are much sought after. GG stands for Grosses Gewachs – meaning a top wine. They are not cheap, but they are fabulously delicate and light from the high terraces in northerly Ahr. Burgundy enthusiast Gerard Stodden died recently, but hopefully his family will continue to fly the Ahr flag.

Join Rose’s Wines of the Ottoman Empire Tasting, 24 June, £40, Edinburgh; www.rosemurraybrown.com

 

About The Author

Rose Murray Brown

Rose Murray Brown is one of only 323 Masters of Wine worldwide and is the only one to host wine courses and regular wine tastings in Scotland.

Let us know what you think

comments