31st October, 2011 by Gabriel Savage
Germany scooped seven of the top 10 spots in an International Pinot Noir blind tasting held last week in London, but it was Oregon which took the top spot.
In addition to Germany, which organised the tasting, the benchmarking event featured top examples from 10 of the world’s major Pinot Noir producing regions: Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Oregon, California, Chile, Austria, Switzerland, Argentina and, notably absent from the top 10, Burgundy.
For all the rejoicing among Oregon fans however, it was Germany which used this opportunity to prove the quality of its Pinot Noirs on a world stage. Despite being the world’s third largest producer of Pinot Noir, with more planted than Australia and New Zealand combined, the country currently exports just over 1% of its production.
Nevertheless, Steffen Schindler, marketing director of the German Wine Insititute, explained the decision to hold this tasting in the UK. He observed: “The UK is one of our major markets abroad for German wine and I would guess that the density of wine experts in the world is nowhere bigger than in London.”
As well as dominating the top 10, Germany showed the quality of its Pinot Noir, not just in regions where the variety is prominent such as Baden, but also in Rheinhessen, Franconia and the Ahr.
“Even for us, who do know German wines really well, we were surprised at some of the names which came through,” remarked Schindler, who picked out in particular the young winemaker at Wintzerhof Thörle in the Rheinhessen, a region not especially known for its Pinot Noir.
The German Pinot Noirs chosen for the event were pre-selected from 300 wines tasted by Tim Atkin MW (who also selected the non-German wines), Tate wine buyer Hamish Anderson and German trade representatives Stephan Rheinhardt, Christina Fischer and Alexander Kohnen.
The 13-strong judging panel of almost exclusively UK-based trade representatives, including the drinks business, initially whittled the 39 wines (one wine failed to show up) down to 13. The panel then began a second round of tasting in which the remaining wines were rescored and ranked.
The final result was as follows: