The Fine-ness of German Pinot Noir
2008 Fürst Pinot Noir Klingenberger
If Eric Asimov of the New York Times has written that the time has come to say German Pinot Noir out loud...
...today we'd ask you to whisper it.
Because while all the Pinot Noirs of Paul Fürst are subtle, the Klingenberger is the quietest, the most understated and elegant. This is a needle-fine Pinot, a wine of simply extraordinary textural elegance; it's sappy and sweet-fruited with smoke and iron-inflected notes of soil and mineral. Yet the Klingenberger is really, above everything else, about texture, about form, about the satiny feel and the extreme suppleness of the mid-palate.
It doesn't get much better than this and though nothing about this wine is easy: It's German, it's Pinot Noir, it's not cheap and it sounds like something from Star Trek, we can't recommend it enough.
As with the wines of Alzinger or Lafarge or Lauer or Verset or Lapierre (to name a few, off the top of my head) this is a quiet wine, a wine that needs a calm room to really be appreciated.
It's fair to say that this is not for people looking for power, or luscious waves of fruit - it has little to do with the new world expressions of Pinot Noir. That said, for Burgundy lovers this is such a worthy experience. In the right environment, it will be down right revelatory.
I also think there is something about the soy, smoke and spice notes that flirts with the more austere Syrahs of the Northern Rhône, Cornas especially, with its sinewy, lean yet muscular form.
While the Fürst family has been making wines in Franconia for many, many years (1638 to be exact), it was only in the last few decades, with Paul Fürst at the helm, that the estate has become one of Germany's finest. If you know anything at all about the estate, it's likely to be the rich, red-sandstoned Centgrafenberg vineyard. The estate has largely made its name with this vineyard and the dense, broad, powerful wines this site produces.
While Herr Fürst has long since had a reputation for great Pinot Noir in Germany, the 1990 being his break-out vintage, the Klingenberger is a newer aquisition for the estate. I remember first tasting a bottling at the estate in 2007, and while next to the Centgrafenberg it seemed diminutive, almost dainty, there was no mistaking the finesse and breed of the wine. It was obvious that the Fürsts had big hopes for the vineyard - as did Rudi Wiest, the importer.
The 2008 is, so far as I can tell, the first serious, serious sign that this vineyard can deliver. The vintage produced wines of structure and clarity, further exaggerating the natural elegance and linear quality of the wine.
That said, please give the wine a good decant and even revisit it on day two. Better yet, buy a few and cellar the wine. As I discovered last week with Ian and a customer of the store (a Burgundy-fanatic who has gone on to buy and really like some German Pinot Noirs), the wine is a bit raspy and outta whack on first opening. Rudi Wiest has told me the same thing many times.
Do not crack this bottle open and think the story is in the first pour. It is not. But with time open, the wine finds its balance and it is ravishing.
It's sunny and beautiful currently in New York City - perhaps not exactly the backdrop that makes one ponder esoteric red wines. Still, the uncontrollable diversity of the wine world is something to cherish, and to support.
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