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.
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.”
The Felix had rich, concentrated fruit – cherries and figs – with notes of light cedar, anise, tea and rose petals, and a mineral finish.
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.”
Next time you order pinot noir, ask for it with an umlaut.