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German Pinot producers get serious

Germany’s Pinot Noir producers are increasingly focused on their potential to produce world-beating red wines.

The younger winemaking generation in particular is using experience gained working in wineries around the world to improve the quality of Germany’s Pinots.

Axel May of Weingut Steinmühle in Rheinhessen told the drinks business: “Germans are taking production more seriously, especially the younger generation, and they should be. Germany is capable of producing really good Pinot Noir.”

May himself is typical of many younger winemakers having worked at wineries in the US, New Zealand and Australia that produce Pinot Noir.

However, he believes that what gives Germany an edge is the more classically Burgundian style of wine it can produce thanks to its soils and climate.

“New World Pinot is very fat with big fruit,” he continued, “German Pinot is lighter, more Burgundian. The 2009 is a bit too fat for me, I like to look for fruit and use Burgundian techniques.”

The increasing use of French rather than German oak is another indication of Germany’s intent, with Fritz Wassmer – not strictly one of the younger generation – saying that Germany’s coopers have not perfected the art of toasting their barrels as well as their French counterparts.

He said: “German oak has no effect (on the wine) because the toasting is not right. Many good German producers are now using French oak.”

Meanwhile, the competition created in the German market between producers is also helping them to up their game thinks Johannes Thörle, who’s 2008 Winzerhof Thörle Spätburgunder Hölle came third in a blind tasting of Pinot Noirs from around the world last year.

Thörle admitted that the marketing and understanding of German red wines was still “just at the beginning” but May was adamant that Germany needed to show it was “not just Riesling” and thought that by focusing on a few varieties and the on-trade in particular there was much to achieve.

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