Ξ November 7th, 2008 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, International Terroirs, Tasting Notes, Wine News |
Better Spät’ than never.
Not long after Reign of Terroir started I posted an article on my experience of German red wine following a short business trip. The title, “Better dead than red”, should leave you in little doubt on my feelings after the trip. Since then I’ve not had many chances to taste a Teutonic red and have kept my purchases to the whites (and with German Riesling being so good that isn’t a hardship!), however over the last few of months I’ve had cause to rethink my dismissive attitude so, in the spirit of balance and fair-mindedness, it’s time to write a defense of what many still think is indefensible.
First was my August vacation in the south of the Netherlands. On a gloriously sunny Saturday we drove across the border to the beautiful old city of Aachen (capital of Charlemagne’s Frankish Empire) and spent a delightful afternoon walking through the narrow streets. I found myself a small local wine shop (Aix Vinum) and spent a few minutes discussing my poor experience of local red wines with the manager. He agreed that Trollinger and Blauer Portugieser are not where people should be looking and suggested some different options for me to consider – all Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and all, relatively speaking, expensive! I decided to spend 30 Euros on one of the recommendations, the Philipp Kuhn 2003 Kirschgarten Spätburgunder, a small Pfalz producer.
Only time will tell if it was worth it, as it is currently in the cellar and could stay there for another few years, however I am optimistic about its prospects after the following events.
Mid-September saw Decanter Magazine publish the results of the 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). This 352 page tome weighed me down on several recent trips and it took nearly a month before I had worked my way through all of its categories and recommendations. What surprised me, and I expect a lot of other readers, was that the winner of the International Pinot Noir Trophy was a Spätburgunder, the Weingut Meyer-Näkel 2005 Dernauer Pfarrwingert Grosses Gewächs from the Ahr. Up against the best (in show) from New Zealand, Chile and Burgundy the judges were amazed by how “seductive” and velvety it was, a far cry from the weak and uninspiring offerings I had a year ago as my introduction to German red – however at over £40.00 a bottle it is also a serious hit on the wallet!
Then in October I had a flying visit to Munich, only a single night in a small hotel, but I jumped at the chance to try their menu’s only regional red, the Gutzler 2006 Cuvee “Im Barrique Gereift” (Barrel aged) – a Spätburgunder, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Dornfelder & St. Laurent blend from Rheinhessen. This was light, slightly acidic with a lot of wood on the nose and a dark berry aspect. Spicy and smooth in the mouth it was medium bodied with a slight bitter aspect on the first attack into the mid-palate – adding interest. A well made wine worthy of 3/5.
Lastly Episode 566 of Wine Library TV saw Gary Vaynerchuk explore the delights of Baden with 3 Pinot Noirs. The irrepressible Wine 2.0 Messiah had a good hit rate with two of the three offerings breaching the infamous 90 point barrier;
- 2005 Oberrotweil Pinot Noir Select, $25, ”very intriguing wine, …very charismatic”. 91pts.
- 2005 Oberbergen Pinot Noir Select, Estate Bottled, $24, “solid but simplistic”. 81pts.
- 2005 Karl H. Johner Pinot Noir, Kaiserstuhl, $25, “Disturbing nose (!)… intense with gorgeous cranberries”. 90pts.
Gary’s closing comments hit the nail right on the head when it comes to Spätburgunder, the quality is definitely there, although at a price point that could be prohibitive to most wine drinkers looking for value. However for those, like me, who continue to trawl the world’s vineyards for new experiences then a quality German Pinot Noir should be on your hit list – and now more than ever there are plenty to choose from. Zum Wohl!