Saturday, September 21, 2019

German Wines: An Iconic White Plus A Surprising Red

P1050474We’re about to burst the bubble of some German wine myths…

In The Land Of Whites And Reds

When you think of German wines, you probably think of whites. That’s understandable. Germany produces world-class Riesling and a variety of white wines including Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and wines using native grapes.

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What you may not know is that about 34% of the country’s vineyard acreage is dedicated to red grapes. the leading red also might surprise you – it is Spätburgunder.

You might be more familiar with its better known name – Pinot Noir. Germany ranks third worldwide in area devoted to the grape, with almost 12% of its vineyards planted with Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates, which helps retain acidity and allows flavors to fully develop. Spätburgunder is also ideal for making  rosé.

A Surprise With White Wine Too

While you are fumbling with your corkscrew as you ponder the above facts about German Pinot Noir, consider this. Germany’s wine regions are also well suited for the production of crisp, high-quality sparkling wine. In Germany it is called Sekt and is usually done in a sweet or semi-sweet style. Surprisingly, Germans drink more sparkling wine than any other country.

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What’s no surprise is the amazing quality of German Riesling. It is fruit-forward, but balanced with acidity. Overall, German wines have been trending drier to match the modern international palate.

We tasted a German Pinot Noir and Riesling, the 2016 Neiss Riesling Trocken, Pfalz, and the 2014 Günther Steinmetz Kestener Paulinsberg Pinot Noir, Mosel. Each was outstanding.

2014 Günther Steinmetz Kestener Paulinsberg Pinot Noir, MoselNeiss is a fifth-generation family winery with plantings in the northern, cool-climate region of Pfalz, where  vines grow deep roots in mineral-rich soils, with large amounts of chalk. For us, minerality is the element that often makes the difference between an outstanding Riesling and a ho-hum affair. Platinum color in the glass, the Neiss Riesling has notes of peach and wet stone along with lime zest. This is a perfectly balanced glass that has the refreshing minerality we crave.

Complex, Rewarding Pinot Noir

I was surprised by the sophistication of the 2014 Steinmetz Pinot Noir. My previous tastes of Spätburgunder were young and fresh with vibrant flavors – wholly satisfying, but without the complexity that can make the Pinot Noir grape a star.

Steinmetz wines use wild fermentation and are grown organically.The Steinmetz is an elegant glass, its body and texture enhanced by the lack of filtering. It has dusky notes of flowers and spice. In short, this is a bottle that would capture the attention of any Pinot-phile. Its craftsmanship and complexity would not be out of place in cooler climate California AVAs.

Germany offers a range of styles that is surprising. In a good way. Prost!

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