Red Riesling

I was tickled to see Eric Asimov’s piece on spätburgunder in the Times today.  German pinot noir is a beautiful thing and deserves more of our attention. 

My favorite spätburgunder of my trip to Germany happened to have been made by a gentleman mentioned in Asimov’s article, Klaus-Peter Keller of Weingut Keller.  When we sat down with him back in September 2009, he mentioned being very excited about an upcoming tasting he had scheduled with Asimov. 

Klaus-Peter at the head of the table. He and his wife took over the winery with the 2001 vintage.

We tried over a dozen wines at this tasting, but luckily I took decent notes.  A few things Klaus-Peter said really struck me.  Good wine “must show its terroir” and it must be “easy to finish the bottle”.  He noted that good pinot is the equivalent of red riesling; “it needs oak only when the wine is missing something”, but that unfortunately when red wine is expensive, “many expect to smell wood.” 

My favorite is on the right. Felix is Klaus-Peter's oldest son. His children will be the 10th generation. On the left is a tasting sample without a proper label; it will be sold at auction. The FR stands for Frauenberg, meaning "women's vineyard" - it was 4 km away from the house, or as far away as the women could work and still be home in time to prepare lunch.

The Felix had rich, concentrated fruit – cherries and figs – with notes of light cedar, anise, tea and rose petals, and a mineral finish. 

The Felix came from 40-45 year old vines, which yield about 2 1/2 tons per hectare.

Only 10-15% new oak was used.  Keller gets his barrels from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (a Burgundian estate, often shortened to DRC; they make some of the most expensive and sought after wine in the world).  When our mouths collectively gaped open at this comment, Keller shyly smiled, “They like my riesling.”

Some "soil" samples in the tasting room. Keller explain when there was a little clay on top of the rock, it made for fleshier wines.

Klaus-Peter told us they hand de-stem in the vineyard and then let the stems ripen another 10 days or so. About 30% of the grapes will go through the fermentation process with stems.

Next time you order pinot noir, ask for it with an umlaut.

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