Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unoaked Pinot Noir: A Bright New Take On Pinot

Weingut Friedrich Becker Spätburgunder 2008 Pfalz  (15 Euros)

First off Spätburgunder is the German name for Pinot Noir. This is from the Pfalz region of Germany. Pfalz is the second largest wine producing area in Germany. This wine is in the qualitätswein trocken category. Trocken meaning dry and qualitätswein being an indication of wine quality just like it sounds.  Although Deutschland is known for their sweet whites, namely Riesling, the fondness for dry reds is growing and about a third of the grapes grown in Germany are now red. They don't have the climate for the deeper full bodied reds, but they do make some lovely Pinot Noirs. Not as lovely as Burgundy, California, or Oregon, but they are much less expensive (especially in Germany) and its always nice to taste a "new to you" terroir.

I picked this wine up last spring when I visited my dad and step-mom in Berlin. This is a much different style of Pinot than I'm used to because its unoaked. Now I know most people are thinking, "Wow you've never had a Pinot Noir Rosé," but it wasn't a rosé. It had almost full body and depth of color. The guy in the wine shop on Simon-Dach Strasse said this was a very popular style in Berlin and I must agree it was quite delicious.

When I first opened the bottle I was surprised by how dark the wine was. I know the guy in the shop said it was unoaked and not a rosé, but I was half expecting it to be a rosé and there to be some sort of language barrier. The wine was dark brick in color.  So after I let the bottle warm up a bit, I had chilled it thinking it was a rosé, the nose had typical Pinot aromas of cherry, raspberry, a slight funky mushroom character, and dry earth, as well as a bit of chocolate to round it out. All those scents carried through to the palate and the red fruits were very bright and open. The wine was a little on the acidic side and the tannins weren't noticeable which yielded a light body. The finish was short and crisp with a slight lingering of chocolate.

Not having the wood tannins was very noticeable in the mouth feel, but it also resulted in a much more brilliant expression of the fruit. So in conclusion I would love to try more of this style and I recommend it to anyone, especially those who are making the switch from white to red or aren't up for the tannins in the big reds. 


  1. Nice post, Brian! Cherry, raspberry, and mushroom flavors - I'll have to see for myself. Jeremy

  2. thanks brian! nice to hear from a wine that will be easier to find in Germany than the rest you are tasting! i really enjoy reading your blog! Thank you! ;)