German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

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Stas Medvedev
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German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#1 Post by Stas Medvedev » August 13th, 2019, 6:35 am

German 🇩🇪Spätburgunder vs Burgundy 🇫🇷Pinot Noir tasting. Both German and French wines were price matched to give it even more objectivity.

That was so far the best and the most insightful tasting I did in 2019.

Here are my top observations:

1️⃣ Späts are stylistically closer to each other even coming from different regions and vintages than Burgundy PN from the neighboring villages.
2️⃣ Späts develop secondary and tertiary character faster than Burgundy yet not compromising the aging potential.
3️⃣ Yes, top Späts can be on par with fine Burgundy Grand Crus.

🍷2010 Weingut Bercher - Burkheimer Feuerberg - Baden (🏅90) Bitter. Showing some age. Silky, spices, barnyard. Perfumed. Fragrant. Jammy, ripeness. strawberry.
Now classified as VDP.ERSTE LAGE (1er Cru). 230m above sea level. Volcanic subsoils.

🍷2014 Méo-Camuzet Frère et Sœurs - Fixin (🏅88) Juicy, berries, youthful, tannic. Simple. Lighter body.

🍷2001 Knipser - Im Großen Garten - Großes Gewächs - Pfalz (🏅92) Ripe, graceful, horse saddle, dried fruits. Good acidity. Strawberry, spices. Perfectly holding age. Very Burgundian.
Steep south slope, limestone. This filet parcel is situated in ancient, intact river valley.

🍷2003 Joseph Drouhin - Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru (🏅91+) Very young for its age. Even color only started getting warmer. It is Chambolle, but not 1er Cru. Berries, forest floor. Transparent.

🍷2011 Domaine Jean Grivot - Vosne-Romanée (🏅90+) Natural, pure. Silky, effortless wine. Pine trees, wild strawberry.

🍷2011 August Kesseler - Assmannshäuser Höllenberg - Rheingau (🏅93) Fragrant. Mineral. Complex and powerful. Sweet ripe fruit. Top class.
This world-renowned site for PN is among the steepest slopes in Rheingau (45-55°). S & SW facing vineyards on slate soils.

🍷2010 Domaine Odoul-Coquard - Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (🏅93) Melon. Fragrant. Intense. Broad. Amazing aromas of dried bananas & sun dried tomatoes with touch of peppermint. Truly GC.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#2 Post by Josh Grossman » August 13th, 2019, 7:08 am

Thanks for giving me some new German Spätburgunders to seek out in Knipser and Kesseler. I've got about 50 in the cellar with Rudolf Fürst Hundsrück and Ziereisen Jaspis as my current favorites. Henrik Möbitz was also a screaming deal.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#3 Post by Markus S » August 13th, 2019, 7:16 am

Thanks! I've always thought something like this would make for an interesting tasting. With my recent tasting of the 2 upper Enderle & Moll bottlings from 2009 I wasn't too thrilled with spatbugunder with 10 years of age on it.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#4 Post by Josh Grossman » August 13th, 2019, 7:44 am

Markus S wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 7:16 am
Thanks! I've always thought something like this would make for an interesting tasting. With my recent tasting of the 2 upper Enderle & Moll bottlings from 2009 I wasn't too thrilled with spatbugunder with 10 years of age on it.
Good to know on the Enderle & Moll. I've been building a vertical of the Muschelkalk but haven't tried any yet. Sometimes their Basis and Liaison leave me wondering if it's the lighter wine of some sort of saignée method?

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#5 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 13th, 2019, 9:43 am

Kesseler has been making excellent Spätburgunder for a very long time.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#6 Post by R. Frankel » August 13th, 2019, 9:56 am

Very interesting tasting. I’m heading to Germany this year to visit friends and hope to do some Pinot tasting. Good ideas.

But I wonder about this comparison. Are these spätburgunders considered top producers/vineyards/vintages? The Burgs are not - mostly second tier vintages/vineyards. Probably a result of the ‘similar price’ requirement. And no doubt the lunatic prices of top burgundy makes these comparisons extremely challenging.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#7 Post by c fu » August 13th, 2019, 10:05 am

Markus S wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 7:16 am
Thanks! I've always thought something like this would make for an interesting tasting. With my recent tasting of the 2 upper Enderle & Moll bottlings from 2009 I wasn't too thrilled with spatbugunder with 10 years of age on it.
I feel like that’s more an Enderle & Moll issue though based on their winemaking style?
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#8 Post by Lee Short » August 13th, 2019, 10:12 am

c fu wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 10:05 am
Markus S wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 7:16 am
Thanks! I've always thought something like this would make for an interesting tasting. With my recent tasting of the 2 upper Enderle & Moll bottlings from 2009 I wasn't too thrilled with spatbugunder with 10 years of age on it.
I feel like that’s more an Enderle & Moll issue though based on their winemaking style?
+1 on this. I've never felt that the likes of Ziereisen, Mobitz, Thorle, Walter are wines that need to be drunk early. I could be wrong, but most of those wines felt like they needed age, and I never felt that way about Enderle & Moll, not even for a second.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#9 Post by AlexS » August 13th, 2019, 10:15 am

Ziereisen is my fave, Chards are amazing too.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#10 Post by Mikael OB » August 13th, 2019, 1:11 pm

Thanks for posting a very interesting tasting comparison!

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#11 Post by Robert Sand » August 14th, 2019, 6:54 am

Stas Medvedev wrote:
August 13th, 2019, 6:35 am
German 🇩🇪Spätburgunder vs Burgundy 🇫🇷Pinot Noir tasting. Both German and French wines were price matched to give it even more objectivity.

That was so far the best and the most insightful tasting I did in 2019.

Here are my top observations:

1️⃣ Späts are stylistically closer to each other even coming from different regions and vintages than Burgundy PN from the neighboring villages.
2️⃣ Späts develop secondary and tertiary character faster than Burgundy yet not compromising the aging potential.
3️⃣ Yes, top Späts can be on par with fine Burgundy Grand Crus.

sorry, but I cannot agree with the conclusions no.2 and 3 above.
This tasting might have been interesting, but neither the best German Spätburgunder nor really top Burgundies were included - no problem with that but the results are imo not to take generally.

yes, Spätburgunders are often quite similar in type.
but the aging potential at least the positive to gain quality and expression is usually more limited than in fine Burgundies.
can top Spätburgunders compete with Grand Cru Burgundies?
yes, if you only take mean Grand Crus like Clos Vougeot, Echezeaux, Corton or Charmes-Chambertin from 2nd or 3rd level producers.
but even if of the same quality the style is often very different, Germans are more fruit driven, with a typical sweet, often jammy fruit, often not perfect integrated oak and lacking focus, transparency and length while very satisfying in the mouthfeel. with age acidity is often dominant without gaining additional 3rd aromas.
no, if you take really top producers and their better crus, even premier crus.

I´m German and believe me I had quite a lot of Spätburgunder in my life - I like them, now and then, but I liked them more decades ago than now.
The German top wines are moreover getting very expensive, and the cheaper wines often simply bore me.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#12 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 14th, 2019, 8:26 am

Hi Robert,

I am German too and I live in German Pinot Land (Baden). I don't agree with you. I think you should taste Spätburgunder from young winemakers who took over from their fathers. There are plenty. And many of them worked in top Burgundy Domains during their education. So the winemaking style is not that dissimilar. Jammy Spätburgunder is something of yesterday. At least at the better producers. And since the top Burgundies are priced into the stratosphere German Pinots are good value in comparison. But its probably a good idea to keep this as a secret because if not the situation will change in a short period of time.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#13 Post by Robert Sand » August 14th, 2019, 8:38 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 8:26 am
Hi Robert,

I am German too and I live in German Pinot Land (Baden). I don't agree with you. I think you should taste Spätburgunder from young winemakers who took over from their fathers. There are plenty. And many of them worked in top Burgundy Domains during their education. So the winemaking style is not that dissimilar. Jammy Spätburgunder is something of yesterday. At least at the better producers. And since the top Burgundies are priced into the stratosphere German Pinots are good value in comparison. But its probably a good idea to keep this as a secret because if not the situation will change in a short period of time.

Cheers
Jürgen
Hi Jürgen,
you are right, the young German winemakers have learned. They make excellent wines.
However - very rarely I have met a Spätburgunder that was not recognizable quickly as German Pinot noir, or at least as non-French. We could ask: why should they taste French when they are German?
Last week I attended a tasting of red Burgundies with (double blind) 3 German Spätburgunder spread in (Salwey, Becker, Keller). It took not a minute for me ...

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#14 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 14th, 2019, 9:29 am

Then you are a better taster than many, even Burgundy vignerons. I know of Blind Tastings when they could not pick out the German Pinots and some of them were on the top of the list.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#15 Post by g.colangelo » August 14th, 2019, 2:41 pm

Can you please name some of the best Spaetburgunder worth trying? I have tried quite a few in the last year or so, but not systematically and not aiming at the very top. Most have been a disappointment, with some very good exceptions, in particular Bernhard Huber Bienenberg. I also enjoyed Enderle&Moll wines, when I visited them, but I haven't yet opened their best Spaetburgunder (Liaison from bottle was quite good).
I must say that a KP Keller (I don't remember which one) tasted at the winery some years ago was too oaky for me.
I read good things about, but haven't tried yet: Salwey and Shelter Winery.
More specific suggestions would be appreciated...
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#16 Post by Robert Sand » August 15th, 2019, 1:44 am

g.colangelo wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 2:41 pm
Can you please name some of the best Spaetburgunder worth trying? I have tried quite a few in the last year or so, but not systematically and not aiming at the very top. Most have been a disappointment, with some very good exceptions, in particular Bernhard Huber Bienenberg. I also enjoyed Enderle&Moll wines, when I visited them, but I haven't yet opened their best Spaetburgunder (Liaison from bottle was quite good).
I must say that a KP Keller (I don't remember which one) tasted at the winery some years ago was too oaky for me.
I read good things about, but haven't tried yet: Salwey and Shelter Winery.
More specific suggestions would be appreciated...
Jürgen is certainly the perfect source for recommendations.
However: I had the Keller Bürgel GG 2016 last week, bright red colour, quite fruit-foreward and direct, pronounced acidity despite sweetness in the finish, certainly very good for its type.
Salwey Eichberg 2014: strong strawberry aroma, slightly artificial and sweet, also high acidity, overall not very complex, but good with food
Becker Sankt Paul GG 2015: darker ruby, fruity and slightly softer on the palate, a bit oaky but good balance, imo the best of the three

All three were hidden between French red Burgundies, but quite easy to detect.

Other producers I would recommend to try: Stodden, Becker, Meyer-Näkel, Fürst, Heger, Huber, Bischöfl. Weingut Rüdesheim, Ziereisen, Knipser, Sauvage, Baltes, Waßmer - I certainly have forgotten a lot.

I also would not forget about Austrian Pinot noir (also called Blauburgunder), I enjoyed very much:
Graf Hardegg, Gobelsburg, Achs, Preisinger, Schloss Halbturn, Markowitsch, Umathum, Wieninger - also far from comprehensive.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#17 Post by Robert Sand » August 15th, 2019, 4:49 am

ADDITION:
I think we should taste/drink/enjoy German Spätburgunder for what they are, they have imo an own character and are certainly very good, even outstanding, and NOT always to compare them with red Burgundies and use as a substitute.
A good (not top) Spätburgunder for 20 € can be a better wine than a red St.Aubin, Pernand-Vergelesses or Santenay, if different.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#18 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 16th, 2019, 5:42 am

The recommendations of Robert are perfect. There are certainly a lot of others but I am not aware which ones are available outside of Germany.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#19 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 16th, 2019, 6:01 am

BTW: The learning curve of German winemakers when it comes to Pinot is one thing. At least as important is better vines. I know German vignerons who bought vines from DRC for new plantings.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#20 Post by Gus Siokis » August 16th, 2019, 6:37 am

This is a fantastic conversation....thanks, Robert and Jürgen. We are planning a trip back to Germany next year to visit my wife's side of family and this will be very useful information!
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#21 Post by Robert Panzer » August 16th, 2019, 8:46 am

I am biased as I import them.
I have not tasted better German Spätburgunder than Fürst.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#22 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » August 16th, 2019, 8:48 am

Fürst makes delicious wine. I struggle with their pricing.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#23 Post by Robert Panzer » August 16th, 2019, 8:58 am

One essential question that plays a big factor in the differences of quality and taste between German and French Pinot Noir: the clones used, ie genetics.
I'm not a big fan of the Geisenheim clones which dominate much of what has historically been grown in Germany.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#24 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 16th, 2019, 1:58 pm

Robert,

that is true but as I wrote things have already changed in this regard.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#25 Post by Robert Panzer » August 16th, 2019, 2:02 pm

Yes, more "burgundy" clones have been planted, but most are still quite young, less than 15 years old.
This matters.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#26 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 16th, 2019, 2:13 pm

True, but young wines can produce great wine. That's proofed several times. In example many 1961 Bordeaux. Frost in the 50th was horrible and destroyed vineyards but 61 was one of the best vintages at all and many wines emerged from young vines. Key was low yields.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#27 Post by Robert Sand » August 17th, 2019, 1:17 am

I think Robert P. is right, the clones have an influence.
Fürst can be fine, but 75+ Euro for the GG is high end, I have several GCs in Burgundy for less that I prefer.

I forgot to mention Duijn, making outstanding PN (maybe a bit oaky in youth), despite being a young estate, but I don´t know if he exports.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#28 Post by g.colangelo » August 17th, 2019, 4:47 am

Robert and Juergen thank you for your replies and suggestions!
If I may, I hoped to have more specific suggestions of bottles and producers you are particularly fond of: I know most of the better known names you mentioned (but haven't yet tried them all).
If you fear sudden explosions of interest and prices, consider PM as an option...

Have you not tried the Pinot Noirs of Shelter Winery? If I am not wrong Stuart Pigott had good things to say about them.
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#29 Post by Robert Sand » August 17th, 2019, 7:47 am

I don´t know which wines are exported to US, so no sense to go into details (Jürgen could elaborate further), but I often enjoyed among many others

Stodden Herrenberg
Bernhard Huber Spätburgunder (not the Reserve)
Becker Muschelkalk/Rosenberg
Meyer-Näkel (several)
Dr.Heger Schlossberg
and not to forget from Austria
Schloss Halbturn Pinot noir
Presinger Pinot noir
and also Pittnauer and Umathum

Fürst Hundsrück is certainly outstanding, but imo not as good for me as the price is high.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#30 Post by g.colangelo » August 17th, 2019, 8:31 am

Thank you, Robert!
While most readers here are from the US, as you can see I am located in Switzerland - in fact writing from across the border in Germany right now... ;-)
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#31 Post by Claus Jeppesen » August 17th, 2019, 8:44 am

I think that Keller Frauenberg is far the best in most vintages
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#32 Post by Robert Sand » August 17th, 2019, 11:48 am

Claus Jeppesen wrote:
August 17th, 2019, 8:44 am
I think that Keller Frauenberg is far the best in most vintages
at least not to my taste. I had the Frauenberg 2-3 times, and recently the Bürgel ... certainly good to very good, but I prefer other ones.
Also you have to pay for the Keller name, one of the greatest producers of dry Riesling.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#33 Post by Robert Panzer » August 17th, 2019, 6:24 pm

The Hundsruck is a reasonable price for its quality when compared with Burgundy Grand crus, to my taste.
The Centgrafenberg GG in '15 and '17 are both tremendous and not at all in the same price stratosphere....
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#34 Post by James Billy » August 17th, 2019, 10:16 pm

.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#35 Post by Jürgen Steinke » August 18th, 2019, 12:48 am

A few recommendations from me (there are many others and the list is not complete):

Bernhard Huber, Baden
Franz Keller, Baden
Heger, Baden
Ziereisen, Baden
Johner, Baden
Martin Waßmer, Baden
Holger Koch, Baden
Salway, Baden
Duijn, Baden

Becker, Pfalz
Knipser, Pfalz
Rings, Pfalz
Bürklin Wolf, Pfalz
Schneider, Pfalz
Von Winning, Pfalz
Von Buhl, Pfalz

Fürst, Franken

Keller, Rheinhessen

Adeneuer, Ahr
Mayer Näkel, Ahr
Stodden, Ahr

Diel, Nahe

Molitor, Mosel

Kesseler, Rheingau
Künstler, Rheingau

BTW: Switzerland produces fine Pinot Noir as well, a few examples:

Gantenbein (pricey but top)
Tscharner
Donatsch
Fromm
Obrecht

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#36 Post by Claus Jeppesen » August 18th, 2019, 1:34 am

Great list Jürgen
I would add Gutzler from Rheinhessen and maybe Breuer and Maximin Grünhaus
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#37 Post by dcornutt » August 18th, 2019, 1:47 am

Umathum from Austria is fun but that is not pinot right? St Laurent which I would guess is a cousin?

I want to try Kesseler Assmanhausser. I stayed in Assmanhausen on the rhine at the Hotel Krone. A fantastic old hotel on the river. Looking up on the vineyards in Assmanhausen, I am sure they have to be hand picked. It is so steep! In many ways like Cote Rotie in steepness. I would love to try this. At the time, the hotel said the best reds came from the area. I am sure there is some local favoritism there but I would like to judge for myself.

Diel makes nice reds.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#38 Post by Robert Sand » August 18th, 2019, 3:31 am

dcornutt wrote:
August 18th, 2019, 1:47 am
Umathum from Austria is fun but that is not pinot right? St Laurent which I would guess is a cousin?
UMATHUM makes both - and the full range of varieties in addition. Excellent producer, not too expensive.

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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#39 Post by g.colangelo » August 18th, 2019, 7:25 am

Thank you for your detailed list of recommendations, Juergen!
Jürgen Steinke wrote:
August 18th, 2019, 12:48 am
BTW: Switzerland produces fine Pinot Noir as well, a few examples:

Gantenbein (pricey but top)
Tscharner
Donatsch
Fromm
Obrecht
As you can imagine, I know Swiss Pinot Noirs quite well. The ones you mentioned (with the exception of Fromm) tend to produce high-extraction and ripe wines, which is not the style I prefer.
The region they all come from (the Buendner Herrschaft) is beautiful and has a huge potential for Burgundian wines (both red and white). I haven't followed the latest developments in that region, but I wish they explored a wider range of styles...
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Re: German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

#40 Post by Robert Sand » August 19th, 2019, 1:29 am

g.colangelo wrote:
August 18th, 2019, 7:25 am
Thank you for your detailed list of recommendations, Juergen!
Jürgen Steinke wrote:
August 18th, 2019, 12:48 am
BTW: Switzerland produces fine Pinot Noir as well, a few examples:

Gantenbein (pricey but top)
Tscharner
Donatsch
Fromm
Obrecht
As you can imagine, I know Swiss Pinot Noirs quite well. The ones you mentioned (with the exception of Fromm) tend to produce high-extraction and ripe wines, which is not the style I prefer.
The region they all come from (the Buendner Herrschaft) is beautiful and has a huge potential for Burgundian wines (both red and white). I haven't followed the latest developments in that region, but I wish they explored a wider range of styles...
Gantenbein is really good, but difficult to find - and very pricy.

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