Holger Koch, Pinot Noir *** Selection, Großes Gewächs, Red-wine from Germany
The variety of Pinot Noir or Spätburgunder as it is called in German is pretty huge. Within Germany I wouldn’t call the differences extreme as there is some kind of characteristics of German Spätburgunder due to weather conditions but also the tradition of winemaking. This said there are clear distinctions among wines from wine areas as Ahr, Pfalz, Wüttemberg or Baden. So far I haven’t written about the wine area of Baden, not only because I actually never have been there. My first German red-wines always came from this area; probably the best know vineyards are called Kaiserstuhl. Kaiserstuhl isn’t one hill but small mountains in the very southern west of Germany. The name was given because German King Otto III held a tribunal at Dec 22nd 994 close to Sasbach which is a smaller village at the bottom of the Kaiserstuhl. These mountains are volcanic genesis which explains the very special soil of this area. Aside of this, it is one of the warmest and mildest areas of Germany.
It is very likely that also in 994 there were many vineyards. Today it is as mentioned one of the most privileged and well known wine regions of Germany. Aside of as for Germany rather typical different white wines this Kaiserstuhl is famous for red-wine.
Holger Koch’s estate is in Bickensohl. Since 1999 they produce only wines out of Burgundy grapes. Flagships are two red ones of which on is the cuvee Pinot Noir ***.
While I was searching about this wine in the internet, I found a text about the vintage 2009 which in my view is the best satire I read since long about a wine – independently what I really think about Holger Koch’s wines. It comes from the webpage of the wine store at Saarwellingen called Pinard de Picard. It’s above my personal capacities to translate into English, therefore the pleasure will be only for those of my readers who understand German. Have fun:
“Welch feinsinniger, „sensibler” Pinot Noir aus grandiosen kleinbeerigen, hocharomatischen Träubchen. Eine noble Frucht (Schwarzkirsche, Cassis, Rosen, Hagebutte, reife Himbeeren, edelste Würze) wird zärtlich von perfekt eingebundenem Holz, dunkler Herrenschokolade und Noten von sanft riechendem Waldboden und Gewürznelken geküsst. Welch saftige Fruchtstruktur am Gaumen, welch würzige Mineralität, welche Beschwingtheit auf der Zunge – Das ist höchste handwerkliche Winzerkunst in einem Wahnsinns-Rotwein-Jahrgang wie 2009. Oder, „das ist Deutschlands Chambolle-Musigny”, wie ein begeisterter Burgund-Aficionado in einer großen Verkostung in unserem Haus euphorisch ausrief! Holger Kochs Spitzencuvée *** ist schlicht einer der emotional berührendsten und qualitativ besten Pinot Noirs, die je in Deutschland vinifiziert worden sind. Stilistisch der Gegenpol zu allen barock-opulenten Gewächsen, stattdessen ein betörender Spätburgunder französischen Stils, der deutlich macht: Deutschlands Rotweinmärchen geht weiter! Gegen diese betörende Pretiose haben viele wesentlich teurere Premier Crus aus dem Burgund nicht den Hauch einer Chance, so nachhaltig dicht und edel, so distinguiert, kühl und erfrischend gewirkt kommt sie daher. Ein badischer Pinot der Extraklasse, kaum geschwefelt, nicht filtriert und so unmanipuliert erzeugt, wie die Natur es erlaubt.“
This text is either beyond belief or just the perfect example why I will never become a serious writer about wine. This is elevated scribbling. Just one wording to all English reading guys: this wine is “sensible”! Maybe this wine can feel….
I cannot share this elitist euphoria. The wine is indeed elegant and very clear. It is very natural so to say, lightly sour and certainly refreshing. The fruity notes are cherry, red currant and maybe rose hip. The wine is nicely balanced, only very soften barrique which also leaves room for the wine’s characteristic minerality. This minerality in particular is really special and very interesting: a clear and at the end impressive statement opposed to heavier wines with common vehemence of wooden notes. By the way I agree with the writer of the top-heavy description in one point: this wine indeed is comparable with some wines from Burgundy and it is for sure better than an average Burgundy.
The wine is one of the rare red ones I would recommend for spicy Asian cuisine aside of classic meals for instance goulash or dear.
I am sure King and Cesar Otto III would have liked any wines, but may be this one in particular. I would be curious how any red-wine would have tasted at this time – without all today’s technique – presumably sour.