2017 Shelter 'Lovely Lilly' Pinot Noir
Region: Baden < Germany
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: organic farming, loess soil, short cold soak, de-stemmed, pressed, then fermentation in open-top vessel, aged in neutral and some new barrels; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 12.7% ABV
Winemakers: Hans-Bert Espe + Silke WolfThe small Shelter project is based in Baden, Germany, where natural wine isn’t even a thing. Kind of like the Central Valley of California, where organic farming isn't happening, and small-scale, artisanal wine is just the tiniest drop in the bucket of cheap industrial plonk. Basically, Baden is the Central Valley of Germany. Here large co-ops loom large, and the winemaking is infamous for the de rigueur use of enzymes, sugar additions and color fixers -- not to mention the chemical farming. So most wineries in Baden are focused on large scale- like supermarket brand scale – and manipulate the sh*t out of their wines, especially Pinot Noir. They are usually chaptalized (sugar added to increase alcohol), and contain added enzymes to produce desirable flavors, and other chemicals to deepen and fix color.
Hans-Bert Espe and Silke Wolf, the husband and wife team behind Shelter, are swimming against the tide by going natty – organic farming, native yeasts and minimal intervention. They’ve even just built a new energy efficient winery that is completely underground (so no temp control is required), and installed solar panels to supplement the power supply. 'Lovely Lilly' (named after their dog), is their entry level Pinot, sees very little oak and is meant to drink now. It's light, bright and fresh, yet due to the attentive winemaking and excellent terroir, this is a serious wine, with perfumey aromatics and a core of dark fruit and earth, with vibrant acidity. The beauty of the Pinot grape lies in its ability to translate terroir in inexplicable yet profound ways, and these guys have nailed it -- the rocky, slate-soiled, mineral-driven, precise expression of of Pinot is throughly German. This would go well with just about any food, but we're digging the pairing with spring mushrooms sautéed with shallot and EVOO – heaven! SERVE SLIGHTLY CHILLED.