Location is just as important in winemaking as in real estate, and Bernhard Huber has some of the best vineyard areas in Germany for pinot noir.
Last month, I traveled across the Baden and Pfalz regions of Germany tasting pinot noirs, called Spatburgunder in German. I discovered flavorful, well-madespatburgunders throughout these two southernmost areas of Germany. It was a striking difference from the thin, tart pinot noirs that German wineries offered only a short time ago.
During my trip, the best spatburgunders came from Huber’s winery in the Malterdingen area of Baden. Malterdingen’s history of pinot noir dates to 1285, when Cistercian monks found the soil and hillsides there similar to France’s Burgundy region and began cultivating pinot noir. The reputation the monks gained for the high quality of their wine was such that Malterdingen became a synonym for spatburgunder.
Huber produces a regional spatburgunder; the village-designated Malterdingen; an Alte Reben or premier cru; and three single-vineyard Grosse Gewachs or grand crus, plus a delicious sparkling wine made in the Champagne method that is 100 percent pinot noir.
In our market, the 2008 regional pinot noir and Malterdingen are available. The 2008 Huber pinot noir is the regional wine and made from vines 6 to 12 years old. The wine is fermented in a mix of old casks and stainless steel tanks, and aged for 14 months in 2- and 3-year-old barrels. The result is an eye-appealing strawberry color, cherry scent and flavor with a vibrant acidity.
The 2008 Huber Malterdingen spatburgunder comes from 15- to 20-year old vines. After crushing the grapes, about 10 percent of the juice is taken for Huber’s sparkling pinot noir, and the remainder fermented and aged for the Malterdingen spatburgunder.
Its combination of ruby color, mouth-filling texture, round tannins, and raspberry-red plum flavors will please those who find most Burgundies too light and California pinot noirs overbearing. It is an ideal middle ground.
The 2008 Huber pinot noir is an excellent wine for those who, like me, enjoy drinking red wine with fish. Try it with grilled salmon, swordfish, tuna or red snapper. The Huber 2008 Malterdingen is perfect with duck, lamb chops, or ratatouille.
Hopefully, some of Huber’s sparkling pinot noir will find its way to our market too. We can use it to toast one of Germany’s top pinot noir producers and the Cistercian monks who discovered the secret of Malterdingen.
The 2008 Huber pinot noir retails for approximately $29 and the 2008 Huber Malterdingen for about $44.