So, summer is over in and it is the perfect time to place the spotlight on wines more in tune with the weather. Autumn calls for two of my favourite varieties, Gamay and Pinot Noir. Gamay for its honest, joyful fruitiness that serves as a reminder of the sunny days we enjoyed up until recently and pinot noir, because it can be so perfectly in sync with the rhythm of nature slowing down, transitioning from lively, exuberant flavours to earthy and more delicate impressions. I have written on my budding love affair with pinot noir before, and I will take a look at a couple of my recent discoveries over the coming weeks.
Pinot Noir comes in all forms and shapes. Credit largely goes to its adaptability to soils and climates, but there is a frequently overlooked explanation for its diversity in flavours: the use of different clones. While terroir and winemaking play essential roles, the clone chosen can have a far larger impact on style than most people believe. An appropriate example is German Spätburgunder. I love it, but most people I want to convince claim “it’s nice, but it’s no Burgundy”. Of course it cannot be, as the grapes used may belong to the pinot noir family, but are distinctive members in their own right! German viticultural institutes have worked for years in creating pinot noir clones more suitable for the German market, be it in flavour pattern or in vineyard management, so a comparison is in many cases useless.
Now, Burgundy still remains the pinot noir benchmark for many, and it has irrevocably influenced German winemaking techniques as well. To make it really interesting then, what would you get if a German winemaker would adopt a Burgundian approach to winemaking with German-bred clones of Spätburgunder? Enter Hanspeter Ziereisen, one of the most interesting winemakers in Baden. His intent is to create Spätburgunder that shows a sense of place, without all the fluff and noise that vinification can add or that the market demands. To that end, interventions in the cellar are kept to an absolute minimum.
Tschuppen 2007 starts quite subdued on the nose, not that surprising for an 8 year old wine. Very stern in the mouth with an almost aggressive acidity. I think that I served it a bit too cold, directly from the wine fridge as it slowly started to open up after a while. Earthy flavours, wet forest floors at first, light red fruit with time. The wine has seen 18 months of oaks, but you can only notice it slightly in the finely grained tannins. The acidity is kept in check when the other flavours show up, and it carries the wine in a lot more balanced way. Not what you would expect of your typical Spätburgunder or pinot noir for that matter, but excellent in its own way.
Other Baden wines talked about: