German Pinot Noir

2 June 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee

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Pinot Noir is Germany’s best kept secret. Although it is the country’s 3rd most planted grape variety, just after Riesling and Muller Thurgau, it is rarely seen on restaurant wine lists and retail shops in major Asian cities like Hong Kong and Singapore. People will be surprised to know that Germany also ranks third, just after France and USA for the largest Pinot Noir vines planted. So where is all this Pinot if so much is being produced? As a net importer of wine, Germans love their Pinot and so far, have consumed most of it domestically.


As we have seen in tastings around the world – in both London and Hong Kong – German Pinot Noirs are doing incredibly well in blind tastings and competitions. During my recent visit to Germany in April 2013, where I had the opportunity to taste over 130 German Pinot Noirs, I found the overall quality high with some exceptional wines. I spent most of my time in the Rheingau and Rheinhessen regions so there are more Pinots from these two regions than others. Below are some of my favourites from my recent trip. Enjoy!


1. 2005 Weingut Keller, Spatburgunder FR, Rheinhessen, Germany
A beautiful Pinot on limestone vineyard. One of the most complex Pinots I have tasted in Germany. Hedonistic with layers of flavours that linger on the palate for a long time. 50% whole cluster with 21 months of barrel aging with only 10% new oak. This wine was opened at 10am and tasted at 6pm. Impressive. This is the first vintage of the FR with 3 barrels made. Impressive Pinot from 12 year old vines. (95)


2. 2009 Chat Sauvage, Pinot Noir Rudesheimer Drachenstein Erstes Gewachs, Rheingau, Germany
This is a powerful Pinot Noir with firm tannin structure and crisp acidity. Ripe, very attractive flavours of cherry, black currant, spices, herbs and cedar. Very energetic and lively and still extremely young. Very long finish. 100% new oak used here. Vines here are 18 years old. (94)


3. 2009 Weingut J.B. Becker, Pinot Noir Wallufer Walkenerg Spatlese Trocken, Rheingau, Germany
Lovely delicacy and intensity with sweet spices and dried floral notes. There is an intense flavour profile of minerals, mixed red berries and cinnamon. Aamazing delicacy here with a very long minerally, earthy finish. This is a gorgeous wine. (93)


4. 2010 Weingut Gutzler, Pinot Noir Brunnenhauschen, Rheinhessen, Germany
Very gentle aromatics with lovely palate and silky tannins. The flavours are more mineral than the Morstein vineyard which is only 500 metres away. Elegant Pinot with finesse and delicacy. Very long finish. This is their best vineyard site in my opinion. (91)


5. 2009 Hessische Staatsweinguter GmbH Kloster Eberbach, Kloster Eberbach – Pinot Noir Hollenberg, Rheingau, Germany
Perfumed and elegant, this Pinot Noir has lovely layers of flavours – floral notes, sweet spices, raspberries and flavours that are light and dance on your tongue. Elegant and refined with fairly long finish. (91)


6. 2009 Weingut Knipser, Pinot Noir Burgweg Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz, Germany
Lovely cherry and red currant fruit in this wine with silky tannins. The flavours are layered and balanced with a fairly long finish. Refined and elegant. (91)


7. 2011 Weingut Schon, Pinot Noir Rudesheimmer Berg Schlossberg Auslese Trocken, Rheingau, Germany
Smokey, intense Pinot with meaty, gamey flavours and dark berry fruit. Wonderful concentration, energy and depth in this wine. Fairly long length. (91)


8. 2010 Weingut Bernhard Huber, Wildenstein Pinot Noir ‘R’, Baden, Germany  Very attractive nose of rosemary, thyme, nutmeg and raspberries. A gorgeous wine with an array of flavours that explode on the palate. Quite a full bodied style with a lot of concentration and depth and long finish. Still young, best after a few years. (90)


9. 2010 Weingut Bernhart, Pinot Noir Schweigener Sonnenberg, Pfalz, Germany
Enticing nose of violets, jasmine, nutmeg and cinnamon. The palate is also very attractive with intense strawberry and red currant flavours that dance on your tongue. Well made with hint of new oak coming through but not dominating the palate. Long finish. (90)


10. 2009 Weingut Deutzerhof, Deutzerhof-Cossmann-Hehle Spatburgunder, Ahr, Germany
A beautiful Pinot Noir with gorgeous aromatics – violets, rose petals, sweet spices and raspberries. The flavours are delicate and persistent, supported by fine acidity and moderate tannins. Ready to enjoy now. (90)


11. 2011 Jean Stodden Das Rotweingut, Pinot Noir Lange Goldkapsel, Ahr, Germany
A gorgeous Pinot with floral notes and delicate layers of spicy flavours. The tannins are beautifully managed with silky, supple texture. The finish is fairly long. Gentle, delicate and persistent Pinot. (90)


12. 2008 Weingut Kunstler, Pinot Noir Erstes Gewachs Hochheim Riechestal, Rheingau, Germany
Attractive nose of red flowers and gentle sweet spices. The palate is silky and refined with an array of flavours that range from violets, roses to herbs and spices. Long finish. (90)


13. 2009 Weingut Milch, Spatburgunder Trocken Silberberg, Rheinhessen, Germany
Attractive floral and cherry aromatics followed by a silky palate. Balanced, savoury, minerally with a slate/graphite finish. An elegant wine with persistent finish. Mostly older barriques used for maturation and aged for 18 months. (90)


14. 2010 Weingut Rudolf Furst, Burgstadt Centgrafenberg Spatburgunder QW Grosses Gewachs, Franken, Germany
Delicate, fine Pinot Noir from Furst. This wine is lifted, elegant with lovely floral and red berry flavours. The wine dances on the palate with a fairly long length. (90)


15. 2007 Weingut Ziereisen, Schulen Spatburgunder, Baden, Germany
A beautiful Pinot that has just reached its peak – gorgeous nose of flowers, spices and delicate red berries. The palate offers gamey, meaty flavours that lingers for a long time on the palate. The tannins are well managed with a silky texture. (90)