For German wine lovers in the U.S., this is a fascinating time and one that’s unparalleled for our generation.
For many American wine drinkers, German wine mostly means the Mosel, with a few reference points in the Rheingau, Nahe and Pfalz. And the grape is Riesling. This is rapidly changing. An amazing cast of wines are emerging from unlikely place, especially when it comes to red wines.
Lüttmer's wines drive home just how much interest and value can be found outside of Riesling and the famous areas of Germany.
Lüttmer's Frühburgunders were one of our favorite discoveries of 2016. It's difficult to imagine a more off-the-beaten path wine in Germany.
We're in fairly obscure territory that requires some geeky delving and a longer than usual email.
Lüttmer is Saale-Unstrut, a region southwest of Berlin that's situated on the 51° of latitude. It's the most northern designated German wine region. This is a region that's WAY North. To provide some context, the Mosel is on the 49° of latitude, roughly equal to Winnipeg, Canada. The region has a history of grape growing dating back to 998, but as you can guess it didn't exactly flourish while it was part of East Germany. Since 1990, some serious winemaking has started to take place in the region, but it was often distorted by an international style. Lüttmer is something entirely different.
Klaus Lüttmer spent three years searching Saale-Unstrut for a top, very limestone site and found it in Weischützer Nüssenberg, a historically regarded site. His holdings are only 0.5ha. When you factor in the low yields, production totals 75 cases for the regular Frühburgunder and 40 cases of the "S".
Lüttmer recently planted some Riesling and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), but it was Frühburgunder that they focused on from the start. Frühburgunder is a mutation of Pinot Noir with small berries and that ripens earlier than Pinot. You'll find a smattering of Frühburgunder in the Ahr and Franconia. Many growers hold the grape in high regard if yields are kept in check. At Lüttmer, yields are very low - 25hl/ha.
No matter how inadequate it may ultimately be, it's difficult not to make some sort of comparison. Here goes... think of the Northern Rhône mixed with Burgundy with a dose of top Cru Beaujolais.
More importantly, what you'll encounter is an absolutely gorgeous combination of elegance, freshness and a quiet depth of complexity. There's dark fruits, violets and other floral notes, a sleek mineral imprint and a lovely mysterious textural component. The difference between the regular and "S" bottling is that the "S" is single barrel selection. The "S" has more presence and power.
As spoiled as we are with the selection of German wine available in the U.S., Lüttmer's Frühburgunders remind us that there's so much more important wine to discover in Germany, especially reds. These are dangerously gulpable wines and that's one of the reasons we created special pricing on mixed 6-packs. We also expect these to age well for the next five years and likely more. They are really worth a look.
To order, email email@example.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits