Pinot Noir is a finicky grape, and the places where it makes a good wine are very limited. Thin-skinned and light-colored, it doesn’t like too much heat or sun, but must reach full maturity lest it give a thin, tart wine. Thriving in cloudier climates, its tight bunches are prone to rot. It’s a wonder anyone ever tries to grow it, but we’re glad they do, because its wines are divine. The German wine region of Baden lies along the east bank of the Rhine across from the Alsace, and here in the rain shadow of the Vosges Mountains, on west and southwest-facing slopes, Hans-Bert Espe and Silke Wolf have vineyards where the sun falls with just the right intensity to make this concentrated, well-structured wine. Pinot Noir from aromatic-white country is often clean, light, and very red-fruit, but Shelter’s Spätburgunder is of the robust, earthy, Bing cherry and cedar style. Organically grown and hand-worked, treated gently in a gravity-fed winery, given a year on the lees in neutral oak and bottled unfiltered, it rewards all the care they give it. Fragrant and rich, with Bing cherry and earth on the nose, it reminds one of Burgundy. Beautifully textured, as one expects of an unfiltered wine, it shows Bing and red cherry, earth, mushrooms, cedar, a little woodsmoke, savory herbs, and both length and depth.
Pairing: Have it with maple-glazed salmon, chicken and plum sauce, or duck breast.
VARIETY: PINOT NOIR
REGION: Baden, GERMANY