Mosel Pinot Noir? Aber Ja (from Stein)!

By Christopher Matthews

Germany is rightfully known for its Riesling. Not only is Germany by far the world’s biggest producer of the noble grape; it’s also the international benchmark for Riesling styles and excellence — from delicate, shimmering off-dry Kabinetts and complex, dazzling dry versions, to mind-bending dessert wines. And, arguably, the apex of German Riesling is in the cool-climate, slate-rich Mosel region.

Mosel vineyards

Mosel vineyards

Around 60% of Mosel production is Riesling, and some 91% is white wine. Reds are clearly not the priority along the steep river banks of the meandering Mosel River. But despite  the small quantities, a tip from the wine geeks at Crush Wine and Spirits  — my go-to wine shop in New York City — showed that, in the right hands, Mosel reds, specifically Mosel Pinot Noir, can be compelling. The wine?  The 2011 Stein Spätburgunder trocken (dry Pinot Noir).

I recently picked up a bottle of the Stein Pinot Noir ($29.99) for a dinner we hosted upstate.  The Crush folks had dubbed it “Red Riesling”, as the Stein’s Pinot Noir is grown and vinified more like a Mosel Riesling, i.e. grapes grown on steep, slate-laced vineyards, and having rested 15 months in neutral, 1,000 liter wood barrels (Moselfuders). As advertised, it makes for a singular, mouth-watering expression of German Spätburgunder that’s great slightly chilled, perfect for a late summer repast.

2011 Stein Spaetburgunder (trocken)

2011 Stein Spaetburgunder (trocken)

In the glass, the Stein Pinot Noir was a star bright, translucent ruby. Highly aromatic, it sported clear dark cherry and plum fruit character, as well as some high tone herbal (Thai basil) and mineral lift. Light-bodied, but full of nervous energy and structure, the pretty fruit aromas played back fully on the palate, together with a hint of spice, herbs and a dark (dare I say, “slatey”) mineral finish.

The Stein blew our guests away: “Oh my God, this wine is so good,” was the immediate comment. Needless to say, the bottle disappeared quickly, but not before proving itself a seamless dinner partner for our summer spread of raw kale salad, grass-fed beef burgers redolent with Provencal herbs (sage, basil, oregano), grilled cinnamon chicken, day-fresh sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and sautéed summer squash.

Summer bounty

Summer bounty

It’s an incredibly drinkable and versatile German Pinot, with a unique Mosel imprint.

Zum Wohl!

This entry was posted in At Our Farmhouse, Hudson Valley, New York City, Wine, Wine + Food and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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