05 August 2014

First German Pinotage

Germany has long been said to grow Pinotage, but extensive research for my 2009 book proved to my satisfaction that there was none outside nurseries.

But there is now. In 2008 Stefan Bietighöfer planted about a quarter hectare of Pinotage and added a further 0.65 ha in 2012.

Winemaker Stefan Dorst had been impressed by a bottle of Bietighöfer’s Pinot Noir but was astonished when he learned he’d planted Pinotage. “Who needs Pinotage from the Palatinate? No man!” was his initial response.

  Dorst had worked in South Africa and had fifteen years making Pinotage at Laibach Estate. Now back in Germany with his own négociant business, Dorst was the obvious man to turn Bietighöfer’s grapes into wine.

“The Pinotage grape is a diva who wants to be vinified correctly, then and only then it shows the outstanding qualities of the mother variety Pinot Noir”, says Dorst. “Pinotage grows well here on a limey, sandy loam soil in one of the warmer areas of German wine regions.”

Their first vintage was 2010 and the next won 2nd place at Vinum Red Wine Award in the category “new breeds” for Dorst & Bietighöf. They annually produce about 1,000 bottles.

Wine and food blogger Martin Zwick has tasted two vintages:

2011 Dorst & Bietighöfer Pinotage
The yield is very low at 25 hl / ha. This gives the grapes a high concentration of aromas. The grapes were harvested in late October and initially macerated cold for 24 hours to obtain maximum extraction of colour and tannins. After the fermentation started on the skins 30 to 32 ° C. Once the wine an alcohol level of 10% vol. pressed and completes the alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Here it passes through a portion of malolactic fermentation, and is completed in new French oak barrels and then aged for 12 months in 225 litre French oak barrels. On 14 November 2012, the wine was bottled unfiltered, protecting its rich fruit and intense, natural varietal character.
This Pinotage has class. It is many years since I have had such a good Pinotage in the glass and I would say that only a few representatives from South Africa can compete with this. Impressively juicy and velvety fruit of blackberries, black currants, plums, spices and dark chocolate. Displays the balance and structure of a great wine and you can tell that Mr Dorst is familiar with the grape Pinotage for many years.

2012 Dorst & Bietighöfer Pinotage
In this Pinotage from the Palatinate we have, as it were, the best of both worlds: the spice and power of Cinsaut and the finesse and charming awareness of Pinot Noir. Beguiling perfume with a velvety and silky texture. Cherry, plum, spices and very Burgundian in the finish. Beautifully fresh on the palate and never rustic or alcoholic. Belongs definitely to the red wine elite in Germany. 
Thanks to Martin for permission to quote from his posts on the German Wine Forum and blog. The above has been translated thanks to Google and the original German text can be read at Dasweinforum.de and his Berlinkitchen33 blog

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