Germany is renowned for Riesling, of course, which happens to be one of my favorite grapes. But … pinot noir? In fact, Germany is the world’s third-largest producer of pinot noir (behind France and the United States), and the grape known there as Spätburgunder has gained in intensity and color over recent years due to climate change, according to author Jancis Robinson. It’s also gained in diversity of styles due to its rising popularity, as well variations based on region, vintner’s technique (with increasing attention to more intense, small batches), as well as the range of soils. This new-to-Pennsylvania Spätburgunder comes from Weingut Erbeldinger in the southern Rheinhessen, and is a lovely, medium-weight introduction to German pinot. With grapes grown in silty-clay soils (not unlike the “WillaKenzie” soil favored in parts of Oregon), its ruby juice is smooth, round, and lithe, with bright strawberry notes, a touch of cocoa, and a light earthy finish with a modest 12.5 percent alcohol level for easy, food-friendly drinking. Erbeldinger also is known for its Rieslings, though none have yet been imported to Pennsylvania. I did, however, love another white, its pinot blank — a.k.a. Weissburgunder — that was creamy of texture and lemon bright all at once. A perfect pairing of German pinots for spring.
— Craig LaBan
Erbeldinger Spätburgunder Rheinhessen 2014, $19.99 (PLCB item #44975), and Weissburgunder Trocken 2016, $17.99 (PLCB item #44976) in select Pennsylvania State Stores.