Dr. Heger, Ihringer Winklerberg, Spätburgunder ***, 2000
If you are one of those thinking of German Pinot Noir as very light wine, pale in colour and neither substantial nor worth ageing then have a look at the wine below. And if you do not think about German red wine at all, well, then do the same. The two Wine Ramblers, at any rate, did also spend some time looking in amazement at the incredibly rich colour of the ten year old Spätburgunder that they had opened last weekend to celebrate one year of The Wine Rambler. Join us in the merriment:
The Heger family are among our trusted suppliers of German Pinots (red and white), and they are also surprisingly good at using barrique barrels to mature their wines - we often tend to be a bit sceptical about winemakers using too much oak. When I paid the winery a quick drive-by visit in 2009 I bought the above bottle as I was really curious to see how well Heger wines age. Very well, judging from this one.
Let's start with the colour - it is amazing how dark and deep it still is. Sure, it gets a little lighter round the edges, but this Spätburgunder from sun-kissed Baden surely would put many younger wines to shame with its intensity. A very fine blood-earth-metal and very-dark-berries red indeed.
The bouquet is the next indication that this wine is still in its prime. Spices, liquorice, baked plum, cherries and vanilla aromas mix with the smell of resin, woodland herbs and stables - all masterfully laid out on a bed of rough leather. A nose that is well balanced, still quite powerful and really enticing.
On the tongue the Heger is still quite fresh with noticeable acidity, but it also shows some signs of the wisdom of age, particularly the smooth tanins, - sophisticated, not elderly. It has a good body and features smooth fruit with greasy notes; mind you, not oily greasy but rather like bacon. Add to that a long finish with cherries, spice and a sprinkling of cinnamon and you get a very well balanced wine. Sure, it comes at a price, but it is worth it.
We did expect this wine to have aged well, but I have to admit we were a little concerned how well it would stand up to the slow roast lamb with balsamic sauce. And as you will have guessed from this description, it did very well. Interestingly, the German wine guide Wein Plus reviewed this in 2002 (rating it at 84/100) and waxed oracular it would last until 2005. Well, there you have it - I would trust Heger's Spätburgunder from the Ihringer Winklerberg vineyard to still be enjoyable in 2015.
At the risk of pointing out the obvious: Hooray for Heger, and hooray for one year of the Wine Rambler, eh?