After a week extolling the virtues of Germany’s greatest white grape, it is time to shine the spotlight on Germany’s greatest red variety, Spatburgunder.
August Kesseler is considered one of Germany’s finest exponents of this noble variety. Growing his wines in the Rheingau village of Assmanshausen, where the steep slate vineyards are entirely devoted to Pinot Noir, he cultivates land that was planted with Pinot by the Cistercian monks over 1000 years ago. Today up to 40% of his vineyard holdings are Pinot Noir – a sign of just how seriously he takes it.
Many say that great winemaking is at its most apparent in difficult vintages. Kesseler’s 2013s bear beautiful witness to this adage. Declining to bottle his Assmanshausen and Rudesheimer Berg Cuvees this year has provided a wonderful fillip to his three blended bottlings; Pinot N, Pinot Noir and the iconic Cuvee Max. The wines possess a never before seen deftness and crackle with nimble fruit and wonderfully uplifting acidity. There remains the gregarious fruit set and ripe tannic structure so common to August's bottlings, but in place of the velour succulence of his 2011s and 2012, lies an energy and uplift we all fell head over heels for.
The progression through the three cuvees is quite apparent, and something akin to moving from Bourgogne, to village, to Premier Cru. Cuvee Max 13 needs a year or two more to fully reveal itself, (the 2011 was a sumptuous yet transparent joy when drunk out there a few weeks ago), while Pinot N and Pinot Noir are already very hard to resist. There is so much to love about these great pinot Noirs, it is no wonder sommeliers across London are so keen to get them on their lists.