German Spätburgunder vs Burgundy Pinot Noir

German :de:Spätburgunder vs Burgundy :fr: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:

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

:wine_glass:2010 Weingut Bercher - Burkheimer Feuerberg - Baden (:medal_sports: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.

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

:wine_glass:2001 Knipser - Im Großen Garten - Großes Gewächs - Pfalz (:medal_sports: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.

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

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

:wine_glass:2011 August Kesseler - Assmannshäuser Höllenberg - Rheingau (:medal_sports: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.

:wine_glass:2010 Domaine Odoul-Coquard - Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (:medal_sports:93) Melon. Fragrant. Intense. Broad. Amazing aromas of dried bananas & sun dried tomatoes with touch of peppermint. Truly GC.

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.

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?

Kesseler has been making excellent Spätburgunder for a very long time.

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.

I feel like that’s more an Enderle & Moll issue though based on their winemaking style?

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+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.

Ziereisen is my fave, Chards are amazing too.

Thanks for posting a very interesting tasting comparison!

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.

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.


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 …

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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!