Spätburgunder vs. Pinot Noir

pinotvsspaetÄ                                                                                                                                                                                                               Approach: We compared 12 Pinot Noirs in a blind tasting to evaluate quality, find differences and see whether we were able to distinguish between Spätburgunder (Germany) and Pinot Noir (Burgundy). Therefore, we poured flights of two and compared, by that, always one with the other:

Kesseler – Spätburgunder Höllenberg 1993
From the slate, quartzite soils of one of Germany´s oldest sites for reds comes this Spätburgunder. It approaches you with distinct aromatics of decent oak and light fruit of cherries and some strawberries. Elegant and smooth on the tongue. Nothing exciting, but harmonious, elegant and still of little freshness. Very drinkable, but lacking depth and complexity. Good length though (89 pts.).

Louis Trapet – Gevrey-Chambertin 2001
It was a wet, cool and cloudy year in Burgundy. This Gevrey-Chambertin started off quite funky with wine gum and burned rubber, but settled after a while with fine, light-red fruit, coolness and freshness of herbs and earthy notes. Darker on the palate, but of grippy tannins and little, austere greenness. After a recently tasted amazing 2006, this was certainly not a perfect bottle (90pts.)

 

Fürst – Spätburgunder Centgrafenberg 2003 Elegant, but relatively ripe wine with dark fruits, mixed herbs, toasty oak and citrus freshness. Lactic notes. Nevertheless, vibrant on the palate with dark drive. A little diluted esp. when considering the 2003 vintage characteristics (90pts.)

Bouchard Pere et Fils – Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1999
Deep, dark red in the glass and full of fresh, dark-red fruit (black cherries), prunes, earth, black tea and herbs. Approachable and medium complex, yet robust wine of concentration drive and extract (92pts.)

 

Huber – Spätburgunder Reserve 2001
The rocky shell-limestone soils of the Bienenberg vineyard created fresh, quite youthful and complex wine of sour cherry, red berries, tobacco sweetness, leather and little peppery spiciness. Present acidity and little green tannins.
Showing real potential, yet already drinking beautifully (92pts.)

Domaine de L’Arlot – Nuit St. Georges 1er Cru les Forets 2003
Concentrated and muscular, but balanced wine of ripe black fruits, creamy sweetness, prune, little tobacco, autumn forest and some florals. Smoothly textured, even juicy with present alcohol, integrated tannins and fine acidity. Quite a powerhouse lacking refinement (90pts.)

 

Knipser – Spätburgunder Kirschgarten 2003
grows on soils of loam and chalk. The wine is dense, deep and complex full of ripe black cherries and blackberries, dried herbs, some road tar and oak. Smooth, but present on the palate with fine acidity and integrated tannins. Textbook 2003, elegant and relatively ripe, yet a real surprise (94pts.)!

Confuron-Cotetidot – Vosne Romanée 1er Cru, Les Suchots 2003
Nice fruit forward, burned rupper, licorice on the nose. Expressive, even wild aromatics. Weakly structured and bumpy on the palate. Something went wrong with this one. The weakest wine of the night (84pts.)

 

Rebholz  – Spätburgunder Im Sonnenschein R 2000
2000 was a very wet and difficult vintage and you were able to find the typical vintage characteristics in this wine: Mild as a dove with aromatics of ripe, dark fruit, violets, almonds, present oak and warm spices. Broad without substance and past its prime (86pts.).

Nicolas Potel  – Latricieres Chambertin Grand Cru 2004
Aromatics of dark berries and black cherries, earthy notes, mushrooms and herbal freshness in a precise, youthful and complex wine from infertile soils south of Chambertin. Youthfully structured with only very little ladybug greenness.
Great length and freshness. Maybe lacking some flesh (94pts.)

 

Keller  – Spätburgunder Bürgel 2002
The 2002 vintage provided high ripeness levels and fine acidity. Klaus-Peter Keller´s Bürgel shows clean with beautiful fruit of dark berries and black cherries with little sweetness, intriguing minerality and herbal spiciness and curry aromas. Among the best wines of the night with density, complexity and perfect balance (95pts.)      

Jean Jacques Confuron – Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 1996
J.J. Confuron owns 0,52 ha in the Clos de Vougeot vineyard in the area considered best (close to the Chateau).The 96 shines of red fruits, raspberry and even gooseberry, figs, forest floor and minerality. It´s beautifully precise and vibrant with present acidity, few remaining tannins and freshness on the palate. Finishes long and focused with darkest fruit, leather and anise spiciness. Still a little tight, but elegant, complex and fascinating wine. Wine of the night (96pts.)

 

Results: It is (often) very easy to pick out the German Spätburgunder due to its distinct aromatics of light, red fruit, present oak and less substance. Nevertheless, the overall quality in Germany is very good. Especially when considering that the making of serious Pinot Noir of finesse is a relatively new trend in many regions of Germany.
Even though some Spätburgunder were able to wine their duels, all tasters agreed that the Burgundian wines delivered more fascination, depth, excitement and character.
And don´t forget that the wines tasted from Germany represent the pinnacle of Spätburgunder at the moment while the wines from Burgundy in this tasting were about average.

It´s still comparing apples and oranges, but the uplift in quality of German Pinot Noir over the last years is promising. Wines of recent vintages underline this development. Therefore, I can only recommend keeping an open eye for these light reds from Germany.

Photo by @weinfurore

2015 – A Year in Wine

2015 has been an exciting, delicious and intense year.
Let´s have a brief look back with some of our most memorable tasting experiences:

IMG_2609The wine year 2015 started fantastic as we had the pleasure to taste
1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild in early January.
Indeed, the wine was pure perfection and met our highest expectations: First very dark and even grim with aromatics of leather, earth, barnyard and autumn leaves with only little baking powder sweetness, but opening up with time and air. Dark berries and cherry fruit, herbs of all kind, pencil lead, tobacco, florals and coffee packed in a healthy, yet smooth and silky textured, finely structured wine with all components in place. Perfect harmony without any edges, great enjoyment, length and complexity. While I can´t imagine this wine getting any better, there are no doubts about its magnificient future potential.

IMG_1968It´s no secret that we´re huge fans of Dunn Vineyards.
Over the last year we tasted, as always, many bottles of Randy and Mike´s wine. Among the many beautiful bottles, the 1987 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon stuck in our minds and is my wine of the year! Shining velvety colored. Fine red fruit of cherries, berries and little strawberry on the nose with filigree, multi-layered aromatics, beyond fruit, with beautiful sweet vanilla, cloves, dark chocolate, leather, almond paste, cinnamon, lovage and the coolness of freshly-cut herbs. Velvet, smooth and intense on the palate with dark berries, leather, little earth, hints of coffee and fresh spiciness of fennel. Finest tannins and acidity round up the perfectly structured, harmonious and elegant package of presence, density, length and finesse. Intense, yet delicate, ultimately complex and sophisticated wine that was best during its first two hours in the decanter. A timeless classic!

IMG_3006Another winery that went with us through the year was Chateau Magdelaine. We tasted many vintages and have never been disappointed. Especially the wines from the period between 1964 and 1982 showed exceptionally.
Here´s a note from a legendary evening when tasting 1982 and 1970 side by side:
This bottle of 1982 was more youthful and even tight compared to the bottle we had a few months ago. Full of dark and ripe fruits, tobacco, leather, florals (violets) and fine sweetness. Present, harmonious and of great flavor-depth, delicate acidity, dusty tannins and lots of juice. Finishes long with dark fruit and spicy minerality. Great wine of complexity, charm and pure joy. 1970 needed some time to open up beautifully. Fresh aromatics of red fruits, florals, spices, autumn leaf and tobacco. Relatively lightweight on the palate, but vital, complex and intriguing. Still fruit-driven with some herbs, earth and truffles. Good finish with peppery spiciness, cedar and fresh fruit. Perfectly balanced, fresh and multi-layered wine of sophistication.

IMG_3753ÄAmong the many great Burgundies we tasted,
Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier 1998 Musigny certainly stood out.
A rare and special wine starting with the whole spectrum of red fruits – mostly red cherry and strawberry. Fine perfume, earthy notes, fresh herbs, licorice spiciness and chalky minerality join the party. Later with notes of sweetness and cookies. Intriguing while constantly evolving and best after 2+ hours in the decanter. Light-weight and elegant, but very present on the palate with pure fruit, little herbal spiciness, earthy notes, autumn leaves and minerality. Fine acidity and delicate, yet present tannins prove youth and potential. An ultimately complex and fine wine where elegance and drive meet like in no other terroir. Showing the greatness of Musigny with purity, finesse and fascination.

IMG_9169Tasting with Bruno Rolland at Chateau Leoville Las Cases (09/2015).

Definitely among my highlights of the year is our extensive visit at Chateau Leoville Las Cases in Saint Julien and tasting many back vintages as well as 2014 from barrel with winemaker Bruno Rolland.
On other occasions we also tasted 1982, 86, 88, 89 and 1990, but the best Leoville Las Cases in 2015 to me was the 1975, which we tasted multiple times as well. This was the best bottle:

Dark velvet, dense and brilliant colored with fine and sophisticated aromatics of berries, sweet cherries and little plum. Shows light and fresh with pinewood, mint and dried herbs, iron and dark nuances of earth, tobacco and leather. Inviting sweetnees of pastries. Medium-bodied, silky and very alive on the palate. Finishes long with licorice and herbal spiciness, precise and of gentle power. An elegant, vital and complex wine that is excellent now, but good for many years, due to solid, yet approachable, tannins and present acidity. A perfect bottle and, by the way, the best (out of three) we had from this wine over the last year. One of the stars from a vintage that favored Pauillac and Saint Julien.

IMG_3060I´m looking forward to 2016 with WineCellarTV as well as to many exciting tasting experiences with the MunichWineClub.

Enjoy the holidays, be safe and see you next year!

Cheers,
Thomas

WineCellarTV