Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#WineStudio Presents Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties: Pinot Noir & Lemberger

Moving on to our third #WineStudio Session XII – Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties from the Rudi Wiest Selections Portfolio session. This week Protocol Wine Studio & Rudi Wiest Selections featured two red wines, the Friedrich Becker Family Pinot Noir 2011 ($20) and Schnaitmann 2011 Lemberger ($20).

In Germany, Pinot Noir is known as Spatburgunder and for the past decade one of the top producers - according to Gault & Millau - is the Friedrich Becker Family. As the name implies, this operation is a family affair. Fritz Sr. took over the estate from his father in 1973 and in 2005 Fritz Jr. took over the winemaking responsibilities while his father continues to manage the vineyard. Fritz Jr. is now the 7th generation family winemaker. Almost 70% of their vineyards are located in Alsace, a historical anomaly since the family vineyards have crossed the French-Germany border several times. Since the end of WWII, the Becker’s vineyards are actually straddling these two countries. One of these vineyard sites is Kammerberg (GG), a steep single vineyard near Wissembourg that the family recovered  in 1966. The other site is St. Paul (Grand Cru), which was first cultivated in the 14th century by the Cistercian Monks of Wissembourg. "German growers with holdings between Schweigen-Rechtenbach and Wissembourg are permitted to market the wines produced from their “French” grapes under the German appellation Sonnenberg." (German Wine)  And 80% of the Becker Family 2011 Pinot Noir are sourced from the limestone rich Schweigener Sonnenberg region. The wine  starts with a dark fruit aroma, then velvety, chewy, cherry flavors on the palette turning to an earthy barnyard; and finishing with very soft tannins. This is a very approachable wine. 

Schnaitmann Winery also produces a well received Pinot Noir, but for this tasting we focused on their 2011 Lemberger.  Rainer Schnaitmann is a relative newcomer to the Germany industry having operated for only 15 years. The vineyard is located in Württemberg where 80% of the grapes planted are red grapes - quite a unique situation in Germany. According to our hosts, "Lemberger is cultivated almost exclusively in Württemberg, where it accounts for more than 14% of the region's vineyard area. Lemberger is a black skinned grape variety. It buds early, ripens late & thrives best in a warm environment to fully mature." In many instances Lemberger wines are very similar to Pinot Noir with more dark fruit flavors and a little more spice on the tail. This completely describes the Schnaitmann 2011 Lemberger. The nose opens with dark fruit and licorice, followed by a creamy blackberry flavor, finishing with a slight spicy character.My favorite characteristic of Lemberger or Blaufränkisch.

Thanks to Protocol Wine Studio and Rudi Wiest Selections for an interesting and enjoyable three weeks of tasting:

#WineStudio Presents Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties: Silvaner and Scheurebe

#WineStudio Presents Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties: Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc

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