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Reviews of German Wines from Valckenberg
P.J. Valckenberg is both the oldest family-owned wine merchant in Germany and a well-known US importer with an outstanding portfolio of German wines. The focus of Valckenberg’s import portfolio is top-level winemakers with a long tradition, sometimes several centuries long. Recently, the International Wine Review tasted a selection of imported, entry-level and premium wines from these winemakers.
Red Wines: Pinot Noir and Lemberger
The tasting included both red and white wines. German red wines are increasingly appearing in the international wine market. The combination of global warming and improved winemaking has led to quality improvements. As a result, the percentage of all wines that are red has increased from 10 to 35 percent since 1980. German reds may not be the fruit bombs one finds in warmer countries, but their leaner style offers elegance and finesse, characteristics increasingly in demand internationally.
We tasted both a Pinot Noir from Baden in the south of Germany and a Lemberger (also called Blaufränkisch) from Wuerttemberg. Baden is the most southerly and warmest German wine-growing area in Germany's southwestern corner, across the river Rhine from Alsace. Pinot Noir is the most widely grown grape variety in Baden.
The main production area of Wuerttemberg is along the Neckar river between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. Until now, wines from Württemberg have been hard to find in the US. During the past decades there has been a steady increase in the vineyard area planted with Lemberger, which thrives in a warm climate and wind-protected sites, not least because bud-burst is early and it ripens late.
Bernard Huber (pictured here with his wife) is one of Germany’s ten best red winemakers as identified in the November 2009 issue of Der Feinschmecker, the leading German food and wine journal. He was also Gault Millau’s wine producer of the year in 2007.
Bernhard Huber 2007 Pinot Noir ObA Baden ($37) 89
The light ruby red 2007 Pinot Noir is a very well made entry level wine showing light aromas of cherry, smoke and wet earth. There’s good purity of raspberry and cherry fruit on a lean palate with a persistent finish. Alcohol 13.5%, residual sugar: 0.18% (1.8 g/l), acidity: 0.53% (5.3 g/l), 100% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir).
The counts of Neipperg have cultivated vines for over 700 years in the wine-growing region of Württemberg. Karl Eugen, hereditary count of Neipperg, has been responsible for the wine estate since 1984.
Grafen Neipperg 2008 Lemberger ObA Wuerttemberg ($23) 88
The light ruby red 2008 Lemberger is a charming, entry-level wine showing bright red fruit aromas of cherry and blackberries. The light palate has a good concentration of red berry fruit and harmoniously balanced tannins. Long, fruity finish. This is a good food wine with a long, fruity finish. Alcohol: 13.0%, residual sugar: 0.3% (3 g/l), acidity...