Dr. Heyden, Oppenheimer Schloss, Frühburgunder, 2007

Dr. Heyden, Oppenheimer Schloss, Frühburgunder, 2007

Today, we continue our exploration of under-the-radar grape varieties in german wine by introducing Pinot Noir's little brother (come on out, don't be shy): Frühburgunder literally translates as "early Burgundy", so we are dealing with a particularly early-ripening member of the Pinot family. Like any precocious child, this small-berried variety can be difficult to raise, but promises great complexity and aromatics once it really comes into its own. In France, it is known as Pinot Pommier or Pinot Madeleine - except that it isn't really, because it is routinely blended with Pinot Noir without declaring this on the label. In Burgundy, for example, it is often not even known in which of the older Pinot vineyards it exists, and in what proportion. Such ignorance is not for us systematically-minded Germans, of course, and in the 1970s, a winemaking college sent out researchers with clipboards, pens behind their ears (as I like to imagine it), into the vineyards to find out. One of the places where they were pleased at what they found must have been Dr. Heyden's vineyards in Rheinhessen, which have given us this excellent example for the grape's qualities:

Cherry red colour, spiced with a little forest floor and black pepper. Very clear cherry flavours on the palate, with wild blueberries from a mossy forest floor to spice things up, a little cocoa powder sprinkled over them, a light touch of oak. Smooth, light tannins, great balance, neither overconcentrated nor too heavy on the alcohol. A treat.

If you are, like us, a lover of German Pinot you have to give this a try, and if you are an internationalists who doesn't think a nice Villages Burgundy or Cru Beaujolais beneath their dignity, you should too. It's in that price range as well, and that's where it should be, seeing as the people at Dr. Heyden have done a really good job on this polished, but also cosily fruity red. Just one objection from the wine snobs' bench: What the hell is such a quintessentially Burgundian wine doing in a Bordeaux Bottle? But we'll let that pass. Just this once. This is the perfect wine for doing what we here in Munich could do yesterday after two weeks of sweltering heat - listen to the rain roll in. Here's the wonderful Eilen Jewell:


Submitted by torsten Sunday, 18/07/2010

After reading your posting I remembered that a while ago I was in a state of confusion about what the English name for 'Frühburgunder' might be. According to Wikipedia it is 'Pinot Noir Précoce'. Frankly, I am not sure if I have ever heard this before. Have any of our readers?

Wikipedia also mentions several synonyms, including 'Augsttraube, Augustiner Blau, Augustklevner, Augusttraube, Black Inly, Blaue Jakobstraube, Blauer Frühburgunder, Burgundac Crni Rani, Burgunder Früh Blau, Burgunder Früher Blauer, Champagner Schwarz, Clävner Früh' - 'Augustiner Blau' must sound marvellous for anyone who grew up in Munich...

Submitted by Julian Sunday, 18/07/2010

In reply to by torsten

I also like the darkly glamorous sound of "Champagner Schwarz". In the end, we'll probably need to get Fruehburgunder into the english language as a loan word. If it has worked for Doppelgänger and Hinterland...

Submitted by torsten Sunday, 18/07/2010

In reply to by Julian

I will try my very best on this mission as no one can seriously want to say the words 'Pinot Noir Précoce' more than once in their life. It has to be said that 'Champagner Schwarz' is also very tempting, in a darkish kind of way...

Submitted by Julian Wednesday, 28/09/2011

Had another bottle of this yesterday, and I'm happy to report it has picked up even more depth, harmony and chocolate-covered blueberries. Outstanding German red, make no mistake.