Dear readers, you know what we're about here. You know how much we try to promote a sense of place and provenance as the basis of wine culture. And we always will. But when it comes to the traditional German way of naming a wine not by what might catch on with people, but by a hermetic kind of descriptive prose that tells you about the exact vineyard that produced the grapes, how ripe they were when harvested, how dry or otherwise the finished wine will taste and so on, we're torn. It can be great for wine nerds like us, but, language problems aside, it's fair to accept that many people don't care about it: Just tell me what wines are good to buy, ok? Fair enough, and up to a point, I even agree. Branded wines are a great thing, if and in so far as they do what, in a perfect world, brands should do for consumers: Find something they can like and depend on without reading up on what Germans call Warenkunde - specialist knowledge to decipher and recognize product quality and decipher the codes that products are packaged with and sold by.
And by introducing the PinoTimes project created by two young winemakers from the Pfalz, I think I can give you an example of what I mean:
Philipp Kiefer and Dominic Stern are both part of conventional Pfalz wineries (Aloisiushof and Weingut Stern). They are also cousins, so they decided to set up PinoTimes as a joint venture on the side: No vineyard names, no quality designations, just three different bottlings from selected grapes of the Pinot family taken and blended form both their vineyards. Now this could be a vacuous, over-marketed boutique project, or it could be, on the other end of the scale, a way to dress up the more indifferent wines that weren't good enough to make it into the single-vineyard bottlings. Luckily, it's neither. For journalistic focus, we should probably have started with a review of the presumably more important wines, either the Pinot Noir or at least the Pinot Blanc. But journalistic focus be screwed, we can do what we like on this site, and since I recently felt like opening their Pinot Noir rosé sparkler for guests, I did.
Beautiful copper colour, a clear, inviting smell of berries as well as a yeasty undertow. If you thought strawberries and cream at this point, you wouldn't be far off the mark, but you need to think of them not consumed on a trimmed lawn, but on a mossy forest floor. Because this is where PinoTimes really overperformed on their sparkler: For all its clarity of fruit, it also has the unmistakeable Pinot Noir character I like to think of as mossiness, a darker, more morbid seasoning of berries. Richer, creamier, more accessible, if a little less elegant than probably most rosé Champagnes, this is not just an experiment in branding that went well, it's a very real recommendation.