Pinot Noir Speaks German: Rebholz 2007

Posted by CrushWine

Pinot Noir Speaks German
2007 Rebholz Pinot Noir "Tradition"

Pinot Noir is one of the most articulate grapes on earth. We shouldn't be surprised it speaks German... beautifully.

There really are some superb Pinot Noirs being made in Germany... and this is one of the best.

For those who seriously love Pinot Noir, this is a serious Pinot Noir that is worth the tariff, worth the adventure.

It seems to me, given the relative obscurity of Germanic Pinot, that the most relevant question here is how does this German Spätburgunder compare to a similarly priced Burgundy or California Pinot? (A follow-up question might be why should you, as a wine lover, care in the slightest? I'll try and address both questions.)

Pinot Noir, as we all know, is extraordinarily sensitive to its surroundings, so I'll begin with the most ludicrously obvious statement: German Spätburgunder tastes different.

I find it tends to be weightier and rounder than most Burgundy. In this regard, the general structure and feel of Spätburgunder is closer to New World Pinot, yet the flavor profile is not. Very often German Spätburgunder has a smokiness, a spicy, dark fruit element that is finely woven with herbs and earth and complex minerals.

Hansjörg Rebholz, aside from having what I think is one of the coolest first names out there, is one of the greatest winemakers in Germany. As a student of Hans-Gunter Schwartz (Muller-Catoir's legendary winemaker), Rebholz learned the art of transparency, a critical aspect for both Riesling and Spätburgunder.

And it shows in this Spätburgunder from the great 2007 vintage (Rebholz holds his Spätburgunders back quite long - I think it's a testament to the seriousness here that even his "middle-tiered" reds are held back three years before release). As robust and pungent and complex as his 2007 "Tradition" is, with dark spicy cherry notes that have really good weight and punch, there is a wintry freshness to the wine, an energy that pulls it across the palate and makes the flavors feel pure, clean and clear. Full tasting note below.

For me, the closest comparison is with Hubert Lignier's Morey-St.-Denis - there is a similar plushness and texture matched to finesse and balance.

But in the end this is not a Burgundy, this is not a Morey-St.-Denis... this is a German Spätburgunder. And while this is a category of wine that rarely makes it to the U.S. (the Germans and Scandinavians drink up most of it within their own borders), it's a genre of wine that we've gotten more and more excited about over the past few years.

There is no denying the quality has simply skyrocketed and the 2007ers may be the best to ever come out of Germany. This wine is highly recommended.

We have only five cases in stock and there is only one other retailer in the U.S. with this wine, priced, it's worth mentioning, $10 more a bottle!

To order, email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Stephen Bitterolf
Wine Director
Crush Wine & Spirits

2007 Rebholz Spätburgunder "Tradition"
(Pinot Noir)

The wine has a rich nose of dark spicy cherry notes, with a serious depth and intriguing details of smoke and pulverized spices. On entry the brooding, spicy nose translates itself into sweet, fresh fruit, dark cranberry, blackberry and raspberry - all of which feels surprisingly bright and fresh. The mid-palate has plenty of weight and punch, a feel that is both sort of joyous and rustic, with grippy tannins and plenty of complexity. I can't help but think repeatedly of Hubert Lignier and his Morey-St-Denis... one part elegant and delicate, the other a bit more animal, a bit more chewy. Really very lovely Spätburgunder.

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