Some vineyards were damaged by as much as 90% and virtually all growers will have suffered some damage. Finding ephemeral delicate and complex Pinot Noir outside Burgundy has always proven difficult.
Chile’s Pinot Noir has improved immeasurably and New Zealand is a reliable alternative but finding good European grown Pinot from cooler vineyards can be a challenge.
Alsace is one region with some good plantings but little of it finds its way to Ireland — and in truth few producers in Alsace bother much with their Pinot. Just across the Rhine river from Alsace however is the German wine region of Baden (some of whom actually own vineyards in Alsace) and not far from there is Pfalz and Rheinessen — all good hunting grounds.
Twenty years ago German Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder) was rather light and insubstantial but since the 1990s major changes have occurred here with new plantings of clones from Burgundy, yield reductions, and an average increase in temperature of almost 1.5%.
There are now 11,300 hectares of Spätburgunder under vine, using techniques such as cold maceration, green harvesting, strict vineyard selection and grape sorting. Add in French oak barrels and a general striving for quality and you get today’s situation where German Pinot Noir is now one of the most interesting and exciting wines around.
Of course as quality has risen, so has price, but these wines are in fact often under-priced in comparison to what you would pay for similar quality in Burgundy.
Inevitably there are still just a few places that stock any German wines (let alone red ones) but as you have probably already guessed Joe Karwig in Carrigaline, Cork should be your first stop. Also try the Corkscrew, Baggot St Wines and On The Grapevine in Dalkey.
Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes, Spar and independents
Carmen winemaker Sebastian Labbé spent time in New Zealand and there is a definite Kiwi suppleness to this Pinot from the Leyda Valley. Bright fruity and fresh with red fruit flavours and elegant cherry tinged finish. The Sauvignon Blanc is similarly fresh, clean and tasty. Both are regularly discounted from €15 down to €10.
Dunnes Stores, Next Door, O’Briens, Tesco
Produced in the cool and sea-influenced Casablanca valley this is barrel-aged for ten months and has full raspberry and cooked red fruit aromas and some nice dark fruit flavours. On the palate is a juicy ripeness and some darts of acidity. Lovers of Pinot Noir should be more than satisfied.
Lidl have a Spanish wine sale running at the moment (it began on July 21) which is worth investigating — I will mention one or two next week. This is a very light bright Tempranillo from the sale which has nothing to do with the wines above but has a similar texture and lightness of touch to some of the Pinot Noir’s mentioned above. Serve a little chilled.
Karwigs Carrigaline www.karwigwines.ie
From the Rheingau just where the Rhine river changes direction from west to north-west this is more commonly known as a Riesling region but Pinot grows well here too. Velvety and elegant with a subtle perfumed red fruit and a hint of smoke. The Kirchenpfad is firmer and also excellent
A light fruity wine with an elegant, polished mineral and stony quality and touches of cherry. This blend is from a great Pfalz producer and includes Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Dornfelder, Cabernet and others. Even better is the Pinot Noir II at around €34 with a rich cherry aroma with a smoky edge and a fine fruity elegance.
Baggot St. Wines. Sweeneys, Blackrock Cellar, Listons, On The Grapevine Dalkey, Redmonds.
Weingut Geil estate was founded in 1871 in Bechtheim in the Rheinessen just north of the Pfalz. This is light fragrant pinot noir with some nice supple cherry and red fruit with a hint of structure.