Wine Talk

Snooth User: Justin Christoph

German Pinot Noir

Posted by Justin Christoph, Mar 20, 2009.

Went to the trio of pinot(noir gris and blanc) trade tasting earlier this week and was really impressed with the quality of the red wines, also some interesting blanc de noir as well. My standout Pinot Noirs were:

rudolf furst 2005 centgrafenberg
bernard huber 2006 heckler schlossberg
krone assmannhausen 2006 assmannshauser hollenberg
meyer-nakel 2007 blaschiefer
okonomierat rebholz 2003 sonnwnschein siebeldingen
von schonborn 2007 assmannshauser hollenberg

Anyone else attend the tasting or have thoughts on the quality (change) of German Pinot Noirs?

Replies

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Mar 20, 2009.

Actually Pinot Noir has been grown in Germany for centuries. I think it was brought over from Burgundy by the Cistercians. Recently, however, there's been a proliferation in very good quality examples.

I was going to hold this fact for a quiz, but this is the right time to use it. Germany is the world's #3 producer of Pinot Noir. Yes, you read that right. It goes France, USA, and then Germany. Many Americans would probably also be shocked to hear, that despite what we see in the German aisles of our wine shops, that German wine production is getting close to a 50-50 red-white split.

Assmannhausen at the western end of the Rheingau has been making great PN for centuries. However, PN also dominates way up north in Ahr. With global warming we're seeing the Pinot Trinity (PN, PB & PG) taking off in Baden and now the Pfalz.

I did a little research to match up the wines you mention to regions since I'm a mere mortal and don't yet know all the German vineyard names:
rudolf furst 2005 centgrafenberg - FRANCONIA (FRANKEN)
bernard huber 2006 heckler schlossberg - BADEN
krone assmannhausen 2006 assmannshauser hollenberg - RHEINGAU
meyer-nakel 2007 blaschiefer - AHR
okonomierat rebholz 2003 sonnwnschein siebeldingen - PFALZ
von schonborn 2007 assmannshauser hollenberg - RHEINGAU

Few of these wines make it to the US. That's partly because the German market is thirsty for red wines and partly because our conception of German wines is still white (and too often sweet) and that is what gets imported here in droves. However, many of these reds would probably be a bit shocking to California Pinot Noir lovers because of their delicate, austere nature. It's a topic that DeGrandCru and I got into on this other topic:
http://www.snooth.com/talk/#http://...

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Reply by Degrandcru, Mar 23, 2009.

Most people don´t know because Pinot Noir is called "Spaetburgunder" in Germany and few bottles actually say Pinot Noir.

In my opinion by far the best red wine out of Germany.

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Reply by patrick von gestern, Jun 17, 2010.

 

Hello together. German Pinot can be different ..not sweetly and do not overload with remainder sugar. It depends strongly of the winegrower and the region, but we find their own style here on the whole in Germany (goes however toward France). Partialwhite extremely filigran paired with an increadible volume(power).The wines specified above are all super. If their asking concerning German wine, feel free to ask. Many greetings from Germany Patrick And of course Pinot Noire (Spaetburgunder) is by far the best red wine in germany imho. Better prices, very good terroire and microclimate and winemakers with lots of expirence. ...sorry `cause of my bad english....
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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 17, 2010.

ahh yes, spaetburgunder.... this came up in a conversation the other day, and i couldn't for the life of me remember the german name for pinot noir!

it's a shame that it doesn't make it into the u.s.... i have only come across it in my study's, and don't think i've ever seen it on the shelf anywhere... i've been wanting to try german pinot noir, but just haven't had the chance... but from what i have read, it is very popular in germany, and indeed leveling the playing field between white and red.... and even making some headway in the very german-esque alsace region..... again, something i would love to come across......

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 17, 2010.

It mostly gets drunk up in Germany. They like it so much there they don't leave much for export...

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 17, 2010.

A different flavor and texture profile than French Burgundy, as indicated above. In that respect, and also in that it's hard to find outside of the home country, it's similar to Swiss pinot noir.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 17, 2010.

Don't know D, I think that article is full of holes.

Degrandcru's comment was great.  Best red wine out of Germany. 

But I'm still far from convinced that Germany is ever going to be making great reds.  Drinkable to be sure, but far outclassed by their many outstanding whites. 

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Reply by dmcker, Jun 18, 2010.

Which article was that, Greg? I was merely regurgitating what I'd heard many a German in and out of the industry state.

Personally, I totally agree with your last two paragraphs.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 18, 2010.

Forget about the articles for just a moment.  In my limited experience, most truly excellent Weingute do not export red wine in any quantity to North America.  There are at least three reasons for this: (1) there isn't the quantity to do so, (2) the quality supply is, well in short supply and (3) much of this wine is consumed at home in Germany itself.

That's mainly becasue the average size of a German Weinburg is only a couple of hectares.  Even the very best Riesling (let alone Spaetburgunder) is often unavailable except through upscale stores or direct order.  You need to spend some time exploring if you want to find and purchase product from these tiny wine estates.  A lasting friendship or two is the ticket.

Of course, in the case of larger communes or marketing associations, there are plenty of examples of everyday reds like Pinot Noir, Dornfelder and blends of same on North American store shelves. Unfortunately, these wines are generally only suitable for picnics (definitely not for the Weinkenner). The more serious German Pinot Noir, like its Alsatian counterpart,is rather expensive for what you get.  I admit that I have been pleasantly surprised on occasion - especially if the vintage is sufficiently warm to add meat to the body. But quality can vary considerably year to year for individual vineyards which sometimes make it difficult to even tell whether you are drinking the same wine notwithstanding that only the vintage has changed.... 

So while I agree that if you want red wine from a local producer in Germany, you should drink Pinot Noir. But unless you have a very good friend in the wine trade there, I would restrict enjoyment of these products to the tasting rooms of the small wine estates or some sidewalk tavern in Germany itself.

Interesting topic, just not enough quality supply for the average tippler to even learn about this sometimes worthy product.  

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Reply by gregt, Jun 18, 2010.

Was a weak joke D.  Swiss wine.  Emmenthaler.  Just gave me a random thought though.  Imagine a comedian who carefully explained his jokes to the audience.  Complete fail.

Anyway, back on topic.  Somewhere I've got a bottle of regent that I just remembered about. I'm sure it's way over the hill right now but it wasn't a bad wine a couple of years ago.  The problem is for the price, there are many reds from other countries where the production costs aren't as high, the marketing lift isn't as heavy, and most importantly, the fun factor of the wine is a little higher. At every tasting I go to these days, if it's German wines, they're showing reds.  Those are invariably interesting and I make a point to try them because of that, but they're not crowd pleasers, at least not yet.

I think they still need to find their sweet spot, also in a literal sense. They tend to be clean, which isn't a flaw to me, but also rather austere.

PN from Alsace isn't an easy sell either.  We opened a number of wines the other day and I threw in one of those.  End of the night there were a dozen bottles killed and that one was 1/2 full.  The only other one with wine in it was a chenin from Idaho. That one was at the opposite end of the spectrum in flavor.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 18, 2010.

But let's try to keep this in perspective: the "best red wine in Germany" may be interesting - even very good - but until the much advertised effects of global climate change make these pale imitations of der echter Burgunder a bit closer to the mark, I may as well settle for the pale imitations produced in my own backyard.

The Germans make exceptional wine.  Unfortunately, there may now be a tendency (following world fashion) to spurn the drinking of superb Riesling.  While Germans may find these wines a bit langweilig, I think they should reconsider their priorities and focus on what they do best.

They are not best at Pinot Noir.

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 18, 2010.

By the way, you may have evoked a better response with M&Mthaler..

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Reply by patrick von gestern, Jun 24, 2010.

Check this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/dining/13pour.html

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jun 24, 2010.

Zufrieden: "The Germans make exceptional wine.  Unfortunately, there may now be a tendency (following world fashion) to spurn the drinking of superb Riesling.  While Germans may find these wines a bit langweilig, I think they should reconsider their priorities and focus on what they do best.

They are not best at Pinot Noir."

@Zufrieden: I don´t agree with you here. In the last 30 years the wine consumption and demand in Germany had a great shift from quantity to quality. And thats true for both white and red wine. There is less and less of the plonk on the market that was around in the 80´s. German Spaetburgunder is at its best at the moment and will keep improving, which doesn´t mean that focus on Riesling is shifting, there is more Riesling grown in Germany than 10 years ago.

Most German wine is consumed localy in Germany. And producers naturally follow the taste of the consumers. Which in Germany has worked well for the last decades, for Riesling and Pinot Noir. They might not be the best at Pinot Noir, but German Pinot Noir is what people in Germany love at the moment, so why not continue to make great Riesling and every year better Pinot Noir?



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Reply by dmcker, Jun 24, 2010.

From Asimov's article in the NYTimes, referenced by pvg above, the last paragraph:

"The proof that Germany is now making some exceptional pinot noirs is there for the tasting, if only more people in this country could taste it. Among the barriers to finding spätburgunders in the United States, I forgot to mention one: It’s so popular in Germany, they drink most of it up."

 

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jun 24, 2010.

Damn, selfish Germans...

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Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 25, 2010.

selfish indeed..... it's like going to dinner, bringing a great bottle, and not sharing....hahaha


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