Bienenberg, Spätburgunder, Grosses Gewächs, 2016

  Bernhard Huber

Chiselled red fruit notes, firm, precisely cut aromatics, little in the way of noticeable oak. On palate there’s a tension between wild bright fruit, saline notes, bittersweet cherry pits and a fabulous line of acidity keeping this pure and direct. Fresh and pure Pinot with a steely core. The Bienenberg vineyard contains the oldest vines in the estate, some up to 60 years old, planted to a mix of German and French Pinot clones on yellow limestone.

Contains Sulphites.

About Bernhard Huber

Described by World of Fine Wine as "one of the most important wine producers in Germany of the past 20 years" Bernard Huber's small, family owned estate sits to the east of the famous Kaiserstuhl in the Baden village of Malterdingen. Famed for his world class Pinot Noir, it was a great loss to Germany’s winemaking fraternity when Bernard very sadly passed away in June 2014. Often described as the German Godfather of Pinot Noir, Bernard used to ascribe the fact his wines are often mistaken for Burgundy to the cool often wet Malterdingen weather and its limestone soils, very similar to those found in the Cote d'Or. Records show that Cistercian Monks brought Pinot Noir to Malterdingen almost 700 years ago, planting the Wildenstein parcel in the Bienenberg vineyard. As today's Burgundian Grand Cru sites prove, when it comes to Pinot Noir, the Monks had an eye for terroir.

Today the estate is run by Bernard’s son Julian Huber, with the same winemaking team that was there in Bernard’s time. The more vintages the young Julian Huber gets under the belt, the more it becomes obvious what a gifted young winemaker he is. He appears blessed with a talent similarly prodigious to his late father, alongside a restless desire to fine tune an already winning philosophy. A frequent visitor to the Cote d’Or, Julian has a young winemaker’s thirst for how others are achieving the wines he admires – and this is translating into a few small but significant changes back in Malterdingen.

With the oldest vines on the estate dating back to the 1950s and Bernard's 25 years of tireless dedication to clonal and massal selection, the holdings now include three single vineyard Grosses Gewachs sites which produce a quality of grape that Pinot producers anywhere in the world could admire. To further enhance the vineyard definition, Julian likes to pick his grapes early in the window of ripeness, promoting their individual terroirs, but also combining "concentration, ripeness and complexity with elegance, freshness and purity in a way that is unrivalled in Germany".

Vinification for the reds will often include a percentage of whole bunches, malo-lactic fermentation in French oak before racking into one and two year old barrels, and a gentle bottling without fining or filtration. New oak usage is decreasing. Everything is done with the aim of preserving fruit, nervosity, freshness and site specific character.

Alongside a love of Pinot, Julian Huber has a real soft spot for Chardonnay. He’s a huge admirer of smoky, flinty taut white burgundy and it really shows in his most recent wines. They’d make for excellent ringers in Blind white Burgundy tastings. Today the range comprises a great value Malterdinger Chardonnay Weisserburgunder blend, alongside increasingly serious straight Chardonnays, an Alte Reben from across the GG vineyards, and a Bienenberg GG. They are well worth seeking out.

Appellation: Baden

Baden is a tough region to generalise about. Made up of nine distinct districts and spanning over 250 miles it goes without saying that climate, soil type and topography varies greatly. However, Baden is without doubt the heartland of Germany’s Spatburgunder plantings. Particularly fine examples are found around the Kaiserstuhl, thanks to a clement climate and limestone soils. David Schildknecht, contributor to the Oxford Companion to Wine, feels that particularly around Freiburg and Breisgau, the “higher proportion of calcerous soils promotes firm fruity acidity resulting in Pinot Noir that marries richness with vivacity, and whose virtues have become increasingly evident over the past two decades.” Standout sites from this part of Baden include Malterdingen, Mundingen, Kondringen and Hecklingen. White wines tend to be enjoyably fruity and simple in style, produced in the main from Weisserburgunder, Grauerburgunder and Muller Thurgau. As the reputation of Baden’s Spatburgunders has steadily grown, quality conscious young winemakers have regularly visited, and taken inspiration from, their Burgundian counterparts. In recent years that has meant starting to experiment with new winemaking techniques, vineyard practices, and sources of clonal material in an effort to further hone their style. The Bernhard Huber estate, now run by the ambitious Julian Huber, is a five-star producer in the region.

Grape Type: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the classic grape of red burgundy, whose greatest wines are concentrated in the east and south-east-facing clay/limestone hills of Burgundy's Côte d'Or. A notoriously temperamental variety, Pinot Noir has proved difficult to grow in certain climates and soils and will not tolerate over-cropping. The best examples have wonderfully expressive aromas and thrillingly pure bitter sweet red forest fruit and cherry flavours, developing truffle and game overtones with age. At their greatest they offer a lightness with intensity and are transparent enough to magnify the characteristics of the terroir in which they are grown. Outside of Burgundy, Pinot Noir has had great success in New Zealand, coastal California, Oregon, Hemel en Aarde in South Africa and the more marginal, cooler districts in Australia. Along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir is also one of the major components of Champagne.