As clarified a couple of weeks ago when talking about Tschuppen 2007, Pinot Noir is never just Pinot Noir. Clonal variety can lead to differences in flavour and aromas, as we see with Spätburgunder. Nonetheless, the wines are still distinctly Pinot Noir in fragrance and structure. It becomes a bit trickier when we start looking into mutations or crossings.
Frühburgunder is one of those mutations that leads a quiet but successful life on its own. Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz use Pinot Précoce as header in Wine Grapes, but in all likelihood it originated in Germany. The distinguishing factor is that it ripens about two weeks earlier than Pinot Noir, and seeing as the German climate was harsher than Burgundy a couple of centuries ago, it may very well be possible that the mutation therefore occurred in a Northern region. The hotbed for Frühburgunder these days is without a doubt the Ahr, which will be discussed in greater detail in the future, but it can also be found in Franken (Klingenberg) and Rheinhessen. Overall though, there is very little to be found with only around 400 ha in all of Germany.
In comparison with Spätburgunder, Frühburgunder wines are a bit more intense, aromas go more into darker fruit instead of the delicate red berries that are so characteristic of Spätburgunder. Oak ageing suits it, giving it a lot of structure in the mouth as well as increasing longevity. Johannes Geil’s Frühburgunder Geyersberg Goldkapsel 2012 is a terrific example. It may be a bit too young perhaps to drink right now, but I couldn’t resist. The immediate impression on the nose is dark chocolate, the kind you find so often in South America, raw but pure. Raspberries and blackberries counter it with some juicy fruitiness, helped by the fleshed-out acidity in the mouth. Long in the finish, acidity-driven but never losing the weighty sensation. This is only just coming around, but already showing so much potential. I will tuck away my other bottles for at least another couple of years!
Other Rheinhessen wines talked about: