Spätburgunder – Pinot Noir
What Riesling means for white wine in terms of quality is embodied by Spätburgunder or Pinot Noir among the reds: wines for discerning tastes. The grape variety belongs to the Burgundy family, which in turn is one of the earliest grape varieties in western Central Europe to be bred from wild vines. Charles the Fat (839 – 888) introduced the variety to the Lake Constance region in 884 and it was planted in the Rheingau in the 13th century. It had probably reached the Pfalz too by the 16th century, and the variety received a major boost 150 years ago with the expansion of sparkling wine production, for which pure Burgundy vineyards were planted.
The Pinot Noir grape covers an area of approx. 11,800 hectares in Germany, which equates to a share of the total area under vines of more than 10 %. Most of the vines of this variety are grown in the Baden (almost 5,900 hectares) and Pfalz (almost 1,600 hectares) regions.
This noble and very old variety requires a lot of care and attention and places the highest demands on the climate and soil. It flourishes best in so-called Riesling locations. When growing conditions are good, it reaches top form and rewards all the effort with the best red wines in the world. The variety is cultivated mainly as a dry red wine, sometimes with a hint of residual sweetness. Rosé and sparkling wines from the Pinot Noir grape are also to be found occasionally. If the grapes are pressed immediately after harvesting, a »Blanc de Noir« white wine from dark grapes can be produced from the light-coloured juice. Many winemakers also produce higher qualities in barrique casks.
Pinot Noir wines have a full and silky taste with a fruity aroma and nuances of almond. The typical Pinot Noir has a slightly sweet fragrance of red fruits, from strawberry through cherry and blackberry to black currant. The barrique wines also have a soupcon of vanilla and cinnamon. A difference is made between the classical and the modern variety. Traditionally, the best Pinot Noirs were made from grapes at their peak ripeness, which meant that they were mild, low in tannins and weakly coloured in a russet shade. In addition to this classical variety, the modern Pinot Noir with its strong red colour, higher tannin, lower acidity and often shorter storage capacity in small oak casks is gaining more and more significance. Pinot Noir red wines are ideal for the cooler seasons. They should be brought up slowly to room temperature and drunk at 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. Stronger tasting varieties go best with roasts, game or the cheese board. Rosé goes well with hors d’oeuvre and white meat and is also a fine aperitif in Auslese quality.