2018 Dautel Estate Spätburgunder
Region: Württemberg < Germany
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organically grown; hand-harvested; marl and sandstone soils around Bönnigheim and Cleebronn; spontaneous native yeast fermentation; aged in barrels for six months; minimal SO2; 13% ABV
Winemaker: Christian and Ernst Dautel
Christian Dautel's wines invite us to reimagine Germany’s potential for producing high-quality Spätburgunder (German Pinot Noir) and other local varieties. Although the family’s grape growing history goes back 500 years, Christian’s father Ernst was the first in the region to challenge the status quo and bottle his own wines. Ernst rejected the post-WWII model of producing sweet wines in bulk, thus shifting gears to a more quality oriented approach. His wines weren’t always regionally accepted, but their estate remains one of the best in Württemberg.
From a young age, Christian shadowed his father in the vineyards and on family vacations to wine-growing estates in Italy and France, always admiring him for trying new techniques and thinking outside the box. Christian regards his current work as a cross-collaboration between two generations and continues to lean into his father’s experience regardless of who’s in charge.
The region itself is characterized by ancient, steep terraced vineyards, among the most beautiful in Germany. This charming, rolling landscape consists of soils ranging from calcareous marl, Gipskeuper (clay with high gypsum content), Schilfsandstein (reed sandstone), and Muschelkalk (fossil-bearing limestone). Hotter and drier seasons (2018 was the hottest vintage yet) are to the winemakers’ advantage, as ripeness has been more dependable for building sufficient concentration.
We are huge fans of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), something that's hard to find in the US market, especially ones that meet our standards for natural (because historically, German's like the control that added So2, commercial yeast and chemical sprays give them, although the tide is turning). Pinot in Germany's cold climate often drinks like a Gamay – light, fresh, bright, somewhat spritzy, like a bowl of tart, crunchy cherries with a leafy edge and a kiss of cinnamon spice. If you like your Pinot's on the leaner side, go to Germany!