Breakthrough for German Pinot Noir

31st October, 2011 by Gabriel Stone

Germany scooped seven of the top 10 spots in an International Pinot Noir blind tasting held last week in London, but it was Oregon which took the top spot.

The Antica Terra 2009 Pinot Noir was awarded first place, a wine produced on 40 acres in the Eola-Amity Hills of the Willamette Valley.

In addition to Germany, which organised the tasting, the benchmarking event featured top examples from 10 of the world’s major Pinot Noir producing regions: Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Oregon, California, Chile, Austria, Switzerland, Argentina and, notably absent from the top 10, Burgundy.

For all the rejoicing among Oregon fans however, it was Germany which used this opportunity to prove the quality of its Pinot Noirs on a world stage. Despite being the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir, with more planted than Australia and New Zealand combined, the country currently exports just over 1% of its production.

Nevertheless, Steffen Schindler, marketing director of the German Wine Insititute, explained the decision to hold this tasting in the UK. He observed: “The UK is one of our major markets abroad for German wine and I would guess that the density of wine experts in the world is nowhere bigger than in London.”

As well as dominating the top 10, Germany showed the quality of its Pinot Noir, not just in regions where the variety is prominent such as Baden, but also in Rheinhessen, Franconia and the Ahr.

“Even for us, who do know German wines really well, we were surprised at some of the names which came through,” remarked Schindler, who picked out in particular the young winemaker at Wintzerhof Thörle in the Rheinhessen, a region not especially known for its Pinot Noir.

The German Pinot Noirs chosen for the event were pre-selected from 300 wines tasted by Tim Atkin MW (who also selected the non-German wines), Tate wine buyer Hamish Anderson and German trade representatives Stephan Rheinhardt, Christina Fischer and Alexander Kohnen.

The 13-strong judging panel of almost exclusively UK-based trade representatives, including the drinks business, initially whittled the 39 wines (one wine failed to show up) down to 13. The panel then began a second round of tasting in which the remaining wines were rescored and ranked.

The final result was as follows:

1. 2009 Antica Terra Pinot Noir

2. 2008 Au Bon Climat Isabelle

3. 2008 Winzerhof Thörle Spätburgunder Hölle

4. 2009 Weingut Rudolf Fürst Centgrafenberg Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs

5. 2007 Weingut Ziereisen Spätburgunder Jaspis Alte Reben

6. 2008 Weingut Gutzler Westhofener Morstein Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs

7. 2008 Weingut Ziereisen Spätburgunder Schulen

8. 2009 Felton Road Block 5

9. 2009 Weingut Jean Stodden Alte Reben Spätburgunder

10. 2009 Weingut Heitlinger GmbH Königsbecher Spätburgunder

Click here for a full interview at the event with Steffen Schindler

7 Responses to “Breakthrough for German Pinot Noir”

  1. matt connell says:

    how many new zealand examples were in tasting? or just the one?

  2. Crash says:


    Give them a break Matt, it’s their show…….and how many German Pinots in the NZ show? Drink the wine, not the award.

  3. Alan Lodge says:


    Just so you know, there were two other Kiwi pinots in the tasting – Seresin and Te Rehua.

  4. Dave Malone says:

    I’ve had a number of German Pinot Noirs that I thought were excellent, so I’m thrilled to see them show well at this event. I have to wonder, though, why no Burgundy? Seems odd to leave out such an important region for Pinot even though this event was to highlight Germany.

  5. dj says:

    what were the california pinots tasted for the event?

  6. Rich Reader says:

    How did it come to pass that French Pinot Noir did not show? Were they excluded from the outset, or what?

  7. Gabriel Savage says:

    Burgundy was indeed included in the 40 wines. We tasted the 2007 Morey 1er Cru Domaine Dujac, 2007 Musigny 1er Cru Charmes and 2007 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin. None of these made it into the top 10. Perhaps Burgundy was at a slight disadvantage with its 2009s still very young and 2008 being rather a tricky vintage, but let’s take nothing away from the wines which outperformed it on the day.

    Apart from the Au Bon Climat in second place, California was represented by the 2009 Hirsch San Andreas and 2008 Saintsbury Brown Ranch.

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