Around this time last year, we struck it lucky. My colleague, Laura Hollingsworth, and I headed to a tasting in Munich to assess a range of different German Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, and happened upon the wines of Weingut Dautel. This tasting afforded us a great opportunity to compare examples from leading estates and gain a view of the shift in quality that has taken place with this variety in Germany in recent years.
Why such a shift? Simply put, it is on account of climate change. As we recently commented in our Burgundy Vintage Report, hotter and drier summers are leading to advanced harvest dates. Traditionally, the Burgundy Pinot Noir harvest would have started towards the end of September, today it seems to be heading towards the beginning of the month, as in 2019, or the end of August as in 2018. While changing conditions are more than troublesome for different agricultural sectors, the 2018 vintage in Germany, the hottest and driest spring and summer ever to be record, led to impressive results for winemakers in terms of both yield and quality. If you are a more northerly wine region, climate change is leading to more dependable ripeness and growers in Germany that may have previously struggled to ripen grape varieties like Pinot Noir fully, or if they did, build sufficient concentration, are clearly reaping some rewards. An institute researching the impact of climate change in Germany believe that by 2040 most of Germany will be suitable for viticulture, leading to the birth of new wine regions.
With the scene set, we return to the Dautel 2018s, offered here. I expected a greater degree of concentration and ripeness than the 2017s, and that is just what I found. I was fascinated by the 2017s – their purity and poise, but the 2018s have an extra dimension. Christian Dautel’s estate lies 20 kilometres to the north of Stuttgart in the region of Württemberg and extends over around 20 hectares of vineyard. His two Grosses Gewächs Spätburgunder or ‘Grand Cru’ Pinot Noir, namely Schupen and Forstberg, reveal subtly different characters backed by the added richness of the 2018 vintage. The Schupen is the more restrained of the two and the Forstberg the more powerful. Christian, who has been head winemaker at the estate since he took over from his father Ernst in 2013, focuses on allowing the wines to finely express the nuances of his various vineyard sites. He therefore uses very little new oak and eschews the use of barriques in favour of larger 300 litre hogsheads as well as much larger oak barrels. The estate’s vines are planted at high densities, in order to create competition for the vines and limit yield – production of Forstberg GG is approximately 250 cases of 6 bottles, and Schupen GG is even lower, at around 220.
It suffices to say we are delighted to be working with Christian Dautel’s estate and regard his as exceptional wines, with a very bright future. We also look forward to visiting when we are able to do so and seeing how his story unfolds. No critics have yet tasted these wines, it will be interesting to read their reviews in due course.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,