In a large blind tasting that pitted a selection of German Pinot Noirs against a wide range of international contestants, seven out of ten of the top ten scored bottles were German. This was widely publicised - not least on the Wine Rambler's Twitter account, of course - and even made some small headlines in the German general press. To be honest, I think you're well advised to take tastings of this kind with a pinch of salt, as they tend to follow their own marketing rules and cycles, and are often designed to fit into a Judgement of Paris kind of narrative. You can't help noticing, in fairness, that no Grand Cru Burgundies of the battleship class were lined up.
But I was pleased nonetheless, of course, because it underscored the validity of the case we've been making since the beginning of this blog: German Pinot Noirs can be very, very serious and deeply satisfying reds. And we have another one of these for you right here:
In the very small German region of the Ahr (about 550 hectares planted), red wine dominates for complicated historical reasons (over 60% of vines planted are Pinot Noir), although it is geographically to the north of even the Mosel. It is also considered to be distinctly pricey, and while that may well be generally correct (and have its own good historical and sociological reasons also), in this case, as we'll see, it's simply wrong:
The old vine-Pinot that the Jakob Sebastian estate has made in 2006 is a dry Auslese, which sounds like a fairly heavy calibre, but a big part of its glory is that it isn't at all. It's not a lightweight either, but its considerable substance doesn't seem to go into body mass, but into the depth of fruit and the persistence of the mineral foundations: You smell wild berries, forest floor, hawthorn berries, but also a more hefty streak of bouillon and lovage. What you don't get is chocolate or oak. This is a purist version of the grape. On the palate, marinated sour cherries, a tickling dose of acidity, and a whiff of finest spices to top it off.
I also need to point out, as we have many times before, the food-friendliness of this type of red. As I can personally (and happily) attest, it makes a wonderfully understated and subtle companion for a tenderloin of venison and red cabbage with chestnuts.
All patriotism and partial fancy aside (spake the incorruptible Wine Rambler): Where on earth can you find Pinot this elegant for less?