Question: When is a Pinot Noir more like a Cabernet Franc?

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Answer: When it comes from Erich Weber of Hofgut Falkenstein vineyards in the Mosel region of Germany.

I have confessed my love of Pinot Noir recently but Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley is an old love – I adore both its aromatics and its tantalizing leanness (and yes, there is such a thing.)

When I bought this bottle of German Pinot Noir (the domestic name is “Spätburgunder”), it was because I had not tasted Pinot from Germany before. I am a big fan of trying-the-one-I-haven’t-tasted before. You know my mantra: find the one you love but don’t stop there. Always be willing to seek out new horizons because who knows what you may discover? For me, the love of wine speaks to an adventurous soul.

So I discovered a Pinot Noir that baffles – where’s the characteristic fruit? There is good tart fruit but stony minerals, earth and herbs drive the wine. When I first tasted it, I was disappointed. Then the wine got a little time to air out and I tasted it again and sipped and savored and well, I turned out to be a fan. Not too surprising for a Cab Franc drinker but surprising to me how my opinion of the wine changed over the course of dinner. It then dawned on me what happened: I let go of my expectations of what it was supposed to be and simply accepted it for what it was.

I then did a little web time and found out the grapes are raised on slate rather than the usual limestone and the winemaker adopts a natural style – he lets the grapes decide what they are going to be when they grow up. Interestingly enough, the wine naturally does not go through malolactic fermentation and is not chaptalized in this extremely cool climate.

My recommendation is simple: buy a bottle to share with friends because it is sure to spark a fascinating —  maybe even heated — conversation: What is it? Do I like it? Can I have more? Do you want the rest of mine? As for the latter question, yes, I will take the rest because this “novelty act” Pinot was also a cook’s delight, going smashingly well with the simple pork dish I served up for supper.

Here’s to your next adventure in wine.


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