Deutschland has been producing noble wines from international varieties such as Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauer Burgunder), and Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) for centuries, particularly in the region of Baden. Located in the Southwest corner of Germany, this is the warmest and sunniest of the country’s appellations.
After a recent visit from our family friends at WineWise, we fell in love with the offerings from Baden for their quality, drinkability, and value. Especially the Pinot Noirs! We all love the magnificence that is Burgundy, but let’s face it; their price tags have continued to climb at an alarming rate. So we figured why not take advantage of the portfolio brought to us by the leading distributor of German wines in the bay area. We hope you enjoy this stellar lineup we’ve put together for you. Prost!
Bercher’s originality is to offer an education in the influence of volcanic soils (Burkheim) versus loess (Jechtingen). In 2013, we narrowly preferred the fervid pungency of Burkheim as it influenced the Pinot Blanc. This is an imposing, palpably mineral wine that nonetheless has plenty of flesh on its manly bones. Wines like this lend support to the notion that Austria has a serious rival to its claim to make the world’s best Pinots Blancs!
2013 Ziereisen Grauer Burgunder- $18.00
Many producers have cottoned on to the predisposition of Pinot Gris to élevage in oak, but few manage the art as deftly as Hanspeter Ziereisen. There is a tenderness and vivacity to this wine that are simply elusive to most of its practitioners. The faintest hint of residual sweetness imbues it with a delicious hint of voluptuousness that falls well short of the obvious. It offers us yet another individual expression of this most recalcitrant of grapes, that seems so happy in Baden.
2012 Claus Schneider “Weiler Schlipf” Grauer Burgunder CS- $27.00
CS (Claus Schneider), is the designation given to the reserve-quality wines of the estate and they are made from fruit harvested later for extra ripeness allowing a little more oak aging. This beauty has a dramatically smoky nose and voluptuous texture. The oak is effortlessly sucked up and everything about this wine is grand. 13% alcohol and fully dry!
2012 Schloss Ortenberg Spätburgunder Spätlese- $20.00
We agonized about which of the many excellent possibilities to select as our first example of the estate’s most important grape and eventually settled on this. Although made from native clones, reproduced by sélection massale (the process of selecting the best vines in a vineyard and propagating them through cuttings), it seemed more burgundian than the wine they call “Pinot Noir” which is made from French clones. Aged in used 228 liter “pièces”, it is a serious, textured wine, not at all showy but worthy of reflection, capable of some age. Shows a resemblance to Chassagne rouge.
2012 Bercher “Burkheimer” Spätburgunder- $22.00
This is the kind of wine that has made the Kaiserstuhl the Mother Lode of modern German Pinot Noir. Forceful but not overblown, it was aged exclusively in large, used casks, the better to preserve the singularity of its volcanic expression. We feel like this wine drinks similar to Etna Rosso, ever popular in our shop.
2012 Claus Schneider “Weiler Schlipf” Spätburgunder CS- $31.00
All the virtues of the entry level Spätburgunder are rendered in a form that is simply a little finer and richer. Vibrant, suave and stylish Pinot Noir with the rooty qualities that one hopes for from the grape and a degree of concentration that commands attention.
2012 Ziereisen Blauer Spätburgunder “Tschuppen”- $23.00
This is the “least” of Ziereisen’s single-vineyard offerings, but it puts many a trophy wine to shame. Its effect is gained with an insistent whisper, not a powerful declamation. The iron-toned nose is the first hint of its seriousness, while the silky palate leads decisively to a mineral-drenched finish. Sherlock Holmes would not have deduced that this scintillating and provocative wine had spent 22 months in oak. Bears similarity to some Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noirs.
2011 Burg Ravensburg Lemberger (Blaufränkisch)- $19.00
The locals take a special delight in this characterful grape, which expresses itself differently here from Austria (though there is a certain affinity with the iron-rich wines of Mittelburgenland). This example has an almost exotic, Oriental spice aroma, but is much more mannerly on the palate, where its velvety fruit is braced by an intriguing green note before finishing with a resounding mineral roll. As good a “basic” Blaufränkisch as money can buy, in our opinion.
2013 Claus Schneider Gutedel- $13.99
(Gutedel is also known as Chasselas in France) Sporting just 11% of alcohol, this is a simply delightful, appley rendition of the infinitely charming Gutedel grape.
2012 Claus Schneider Weiler Schlipf Spätburgunder- $20.00
(Unfiltered) Schneiders plant a variety of French and German clones in their vineyards to simply wonderful effect. They never filter their Pinot Noir wines. This is a poster child for Baden Spätburgunder – mid-weight and polished with the faintest hint of tannin and an ineffably lovely aromatic quality that carries through seamlessly from nose to palate. To find such finesse at this price is a reward to be wished for.
2013 Gleichenstein Spätburgunder Hofgarten- $17.00
“Hofgarten” is the name that they give to their basic estate-grown wines, though this originates largely from the Eichberg, an important vineyard site with alluvial soils over a volcanic bedrock. Unexpectedly serious for its echelon, it exemplifies the ability of Baden to synthesise Pinot’s twin virtues of unexaggeratedly sweet fruit and soil-transparency. It is like conversing with someone who is both charming and erudite.