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Benedikt Baltes
Region: Germany
Appellations: Franken
Colour Range: Red, White
Price Range: £69.55 - £197.95
Number of Wines: 4 wines

Benedikt Baltes

Young Benedikt Baltes’ story is an interesting one. Born and raised in the Ahr and descended from a long line of winemaker and grape growers he was always destined to follow the Pinot Noir path. But not content to follow the family tradition of selling grapes to a co-operative, Benedikt set out in search of his own project, his aim being to make honest and transparent wines from great German sites. Unable to find vines in the Ahr, but with a number of vintages to his name with wineries in Germany and across Europe, it was in 2010 that the old state winery in Klingenberg was brought to his attention. Run down, not producing great wines, but with 10 hectares of excellent classified old vine vineyards, the opportunity was too good to miss and the price was relatively affordable. Neighbours like the Fursts had made it abundantly clear that the red sandstone soils of the tiny Churfranken region were ideally suited to Pinot Noir in the 21st Century, while the history books spoke of red wine production here dating back to the 13th century. Great things were clearly possible. A deal was done and Benedikt took keys to an institution that dated back to 1912, a new face with a historic estate to play with.

Fast forward to 2016 and the old vines are in great shape, biodynamic and organic certifications have been secured and Benedikt’s vision for elegant, site specific Pinot Noir has become a reality. Key to his vision is the desire to produce authentic wines that speak of the historic old vineyard sites he now tends to. This means using only native yeasts, raising the wines in 300 and 500lt neutral German oak barrels from trees felled within 50km of the winery and focussing on historic German Pinot Noir clones. “I want to make truly German Grosses Gewachs, not using French clones in French barrels. For me, German Pinot Noir can be quite like a Riesling. Riesling is intense and complex but not too rich in body and not too alcoholic. It is the soils that bring minerality and deepness to the German wines, our terroir isn’t that heavy, or that fruity – and I want to transport that finesse to my Pinot Noirs.”

With three Grosses Gewachs to his name, a top premier cru in Bergstadter Berg and excellent Ortswein and Gutswein Pinot Noirs Benedikt seems clear on his stylistic vision. These are wines of harmony and grace, excellent balance, polished but not worked textures and real character. They taste like German Pinot noir, made with great sensibility and refinement. We’re delighted to be bringing them onto these shores for the very first time.

In Autumn 2019, with a young family in tow, Benedikt took the tough decision to sell his stake in the winery. He will remain a consultant for the coming two years, at least until 2021, to ensure a smooth transition, though of course the vineyard and winery teams remain unchanged. The new name on the labels will be Steintal – meaning Stone valley, a reference to the steep stony vineyards and the Main river valley that they loom over. The tending of the vineyards will be carried out under the same ethos of sustainability, farmed organically and biodynamically, and even Benedikt’s beloved Breton Dwarf Sheep will remain. It is the same story in the winery; a focus on German clones vinified in neutral German oak barrels, gentle extractions, light touch winemaking and a judicious use of whole bunch fermentation should see plenty more transparent, crackling Spatburgunders of energy and purity emerge from the old Klingenberg winery.