World wakes up to German Pinot quality

German Pinot Noir is rivaling Riesling as the country’s flagship fine wine grape according to the latest edition of the drinks business.

Germany Ahr Valley

Germany’s narrow slate-soiled Ahr Valley is home to some of the country’s most celebrated Pinot producers, such as Meyer-Nakel and Jean Stodden

Writing in April’s magazine, Anne Krebiehl comments, “Riesling is now at the very top of its game and Spätburgunder [Pinot Noir] is rapidly catching up.”

Citing increasing vine age, viticultural progress, warmer vintages, reduced yields and the development of loose-clustered, small berried German clones released in 1999, Krebiehl notes that Germany is now producing concentrated Pinot Noir with a unique savouriness, “reminiscent of lovage and bay”.

Indeed, in late 2011, as previously reported by db, Germany scooped seven of the top 10 spots in an International Pinot Noir blind tasting held in London (although it was Oregon which took first place, and no Pinot Noirs from Burgundy featured).

Plantings of Pinot in Germany have also hugely increased, with the vineyard area doubling from 1990 to 2010 to reach almost 12,000 hectares, meaning Germany is now the third biggest country in the world when it comes to Pinot hectarage (see list below).

Germany’s top Spätburgunders are expensive however, with prices peaking at over £100 per bottle for the most sought-after Pinot specialists.

Nevertheless, Georg Mauer, director of Wein & Glas, a leading Berlin-based retailer and wholesaler, believes the prices are justified.

“These are small vineyard parcels, labour is intensive and production structures are similar to Burgundy and Piedmont; prices are justified,” he says.

Krebiehl also records that UK fine wine merchants are beginning to recognize the quality.

For example, Berry Bros & Rudd has added three Spätburgunders to their list, while Goedhuis & Co offered and sold out their first German Pinot parcel last year.

Hong Kong merchants too are beginning to embrace Pinot Noir from Germany, aware it offers a quality alternative to Pinot from the Côte d’Or, which is becoming increasingly popular in Asia.

At the moment however, “German sales are so focused on Riesling, Pinot Noir still flies under the radar,” according to André Kok, managing director of Hong Kong-based McGavin & Kok Fine Wine & Spirits.

And as a result, he adds, “Pinot Noir from Germany is probably one of the most underrated wines in the world.”

For a full analysis of German Pinot Noir, including recommendations of the top producers by region, see the April edition of the drinks business.

Pinot Noir – worldwide plantings:

Country                 Vineyard area (hectares)      Share (%)

France                                       30,659             35.4
US (Calif., Oregon, Washington)   21,037             24.3
Germany                                    11,756             13.6
Australia                                     5,061               5.8
New Zealand                               4,828               5.6
Switzerland                                 4,352               5.0
Italy                                           3,300               3.8
Chile                                          2,130               2.5
Argentina                                   1,681               1.9
South Africa                               962                  1.1
Austria                                       649                  0.8
Luxembourg                               102                  0.1
TOTAL                                       86,517             100

Source: Deutscher Wein Statistik 2012/2013 – German Wine Institute, Mainz


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