Hello and Happy Friday!
If you love Pinot Noir, and many of you do, then today’s Friday Feature is one you must read.
Many wine consumers have a tendency to stick to their routines. We all know that places like Burgundy, Oregon and California produces some of the greatest examples of Pinot Noir in the world. If you find yourself just seeking out Pinot’s from those places, let me just say that you are missing out.
Today there are world-class examples of Pinot Noir emerging from places like Central Otago in New Zealand, Alsace, and Germany.
This Friday Feature focuses on three new releases of Pinot Noir from those very places.
There is something for everyone on this newsletter, an excellent value from the “Pfal-sace” that can be consumed on a daily basis, an absolutely brilliant Central Otago Pinot Noir that is accessible now and will drink great in coming years, and finally one of Germany’s greatest Pinot Noirs for those with the ability to cellar wine.
So sit back, read on, and polish off those Pinot glasses because you are going to find something you will really like on today’s Friday Feature!
2008 BECKER ESTATE PINOT NOIR
The winery of Friedrich Becker is located in the Pfalz region of Germany in the small town of Schweigen. In reality this wine is actually from “Pfal-sace.” Never heard of it? That is because I actually made it up.
This unique Pinot Noir comes from vineyards in both France and Germany – Alsace and a kilometer down the road in Pfalz to be specific. A rather uncommon phenomenon, this is possible because of 55 year-old agreement that allows them the rights to farm across the border and make the wine at their home base in Schweigen.
Becker is a Pinot Noir specialist, and is well regarded in Germany for this varietal as well as Riesling. From the 35-acre estate vineyards, Becker produces a handful of Pinot Noirs, most of the vines growing in stony and chalky soils.
This is his entry-level wine, aged in large oak casks, and meant for early consumption. In no way does this wine have the complexity and overall depth of the following wines on this newsletter, but in the difficult to find, quality under $20 Pinot Noir category, this is at the top of the pyramid.
Enjoy this for its youthful exuberance – chock full of notes of red berries, flowers and mineral. Typically under $20 Pinot Noirs that I taste have a sappy, candied fruit quality. This avoids those qualities and remains fresh, pure, juicy and simply delicious!
$16.99 BTL. / $203.88 CASE
2009 BURN COTTAGE PINOT NOIR, CENTRAL OTAGO
Burn Cottage is the single most exciting new producer to come out of New Zealand in some time. This is a must buy for any Pinot Noir enthusiast!
In 2001 the 28-acre property, which was a former sheep paddock was “discovered” by Marquis Sauvage on a trip to the region. Ted Lemon, the winemaker and owner of the famed California estate Littorai remarked that it was one of the better finds by a “layman” that he had ever seen. Ted was convinced to join the project and become the winemaker.
Burn Cottage stands out for several reasons. The first is its commitment to using the biodynamic principals laid down by Rudolph Steiner. The health of a vineyard is always number one in making great wines, and the Burn Cottage team makes every effort to keep it in balance with the environment.
The second major reason is the commitment to making “real” wine. Native yeasts are used, the wine is not chapitalized, and they do not acidify. When you start tweaking a wine, you often lose the terroir and integrity of the vintage.
Thirdly, at Burn Cottage, attention to detail is second to none. This is something that all of the greatest wines of the world have. Everything has be accounted for – from the planting of the vineyard to deciding the amount of punch downs needed.
Last, I have to mention that I think this wine is a great value. Yes, it is a little over $50, but making Pinot Noir in this style, and of this quality, well it doesn’t come cheaply. I can attest to the fact that there is a lot of stuff way more expensive that is half as good.
Many Pinot Noir fans always ask about aging potential. Ted Lemon believes 5+ years, and I think that is a good starting point. You should buy at least a six-pack, drinking a bottle a year to taste it through its evolution!
$51.99 BTL. / $311.94 SIX-PACK CASE
2008 KELLER SPÅTBURGUNDER “DALSHEIMER BÜRGEL – CUVÉE FELIX”
At the top of the Pinot Noir hierarchy of Germany you will find Klaus Peter Keller. This Rheinhessen producer has been written about several times in my newsletters, all glowing reviews of his magical white wines, and his incredible Spätburgunders, a.k.a Pinot Noir.
Klaus Peter spent time training in Burgundy before returning back to his father’s estate, which he now heads with his wife Julia. He owns vines in two Grand Cru or Grosse Gewächs vineyards planted to Pinot Noir, Frauenberg and Bürgel. Bürgel is a south-facing site planted on mussel chalk on clay.
Keller is a careful manager of his oak regimen. In the case of Bürgel he uses one year-old barrels purchased from Domaine de la Romanée Conti in Burgundy. They had been used to age the Grand Cru, La Tâche. That doesn’t mean that this wine tastes like La Tâche, but rather ensures Keller that the barrel is the top quality 1-year barrel he can buy. He likes the fact that DRC sources wood from trees they own and manage. He wants the wine to have purity and show terroir, and for him using new wood might mask this.
This is a Pinot Noir for those who are willing to invest the time to cellar it. Klaus Peter feels that it blooms after a decade, and from there, well you just will have to find out how much longer you think it needs. This is not an over the top, extracted style of Pinot – rather a delicate wine full of flowers, red fruits, earth notes and mineral. In time it will emerge from the glass with haunting aromatics. That is what great Pinot Noir is all about!
Collectors, do not miss this!
$92.99 BTL. / $557.94 SIX-PACK CASE