Sometimes Burgundy is not in France. Well, technically it might still be in France, for all I know, but metaphysically speaking I believe Burgundy is also a state of wine that can travel - and like the holy spirit of wine it can come down elsewhere and turn red wine into true Pinot Noir. Some of you heathens will now think of Oregon, New Zealand or California, but I have seen it happen in one of the more unlikely places on earth: the cool climate Mosel.
Yes, the Mosel makes Pinot Noir that can rival Burgundy. There may not be much of it, but I think of one man in particular, driven by faith in his vines: Markus Molitor.
When we visited the Molitor winery in 2008 I had already experienced some of his great Rieslings, but it was the Pinot Noir that was the real surprise. At the age of 20 Markus Molitor took over his father's estate of a little over 3 ha and over the following 25 years he built it up to more than ten times the size, including parcels of some of the most prestigious vineyards in the middle Mosel. He also built up an excellent reputation for world class Pinot Noir - and well, the prices have moved beyond regional level too.
Everything about these Pinots screams Burgundy: the clones for the vines were imported from Burgundy; of course barrique barrels are used; and the substantial bottles also come from France. The 2004 ** Pinot is not actually Molitor's top wine, as you might assume from the price, oh no. The *** wines are priced even more ambitiously, but then as has been pointed out to me: "In Burgundy they take even more!"
What you get from the Mosel is definitely worth every cent. Just take the bouquet - expertly applied oak gives very flavoursome, spicy aromatics with just the right level of enticing vanilla and lovely wood. The rest is a harmonious song of fruit and enticement (delicate strawberry preserve); depth and robustness (cabbage and vegetable undergrowth); and woodland aromas (herbs) - all spread out on some kind of marzipan dough.
The delight continues on your tongue with a wine that is not only velvety smooth but still very lively for its age, any age really!, and with tannins that are well integrated but still strong enough to let their muscles play a little in the finish; a finish that also brings out the freshness again, with tasty tannins and spicy woodland aromas that would season any game dish perfectly. This is a cool wine with enough earthiness to keep the smoothness interesting (think velvet undergrowth) and a great balance between precision, elegance and substance that makes it glide over your tongue.
Clearly, Molitor has created an accomplished, fantastic Pinot Noir. You can imagine a better wine, but you would have to put some effort into it.