Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller, Barbara Huber and Peter Lepholt
One of the Fathers of the German Red Wine Revolution: Weingut Huber in Baden
I had the pleasure to participate – with the Weinfreunde Hochheim – in a wine tasting at Weingut Huber in Baden. Weingut Huber is one of the leading German red wine producers.
Baden is Germany’s most southerly and - with 16,000 hectares (39,300 acres) under vine – third largest wine region. Despite its size and the quality of its wines, it is not well known outside of Germany, because it exports very little.
From north to south, Baden spans approximately 200 kilometers, and is primarily situated on the right bank of the Rhein river. On the left bank is Alsace in France. Lying primarily in the Rhine rift with the protection of Vosges Mountains to the west and the Black Forrest to the east, Baden’s climate is the warmest in Germany Baden is divided into nine districts; one of them is the Breisgau, where the Huber Estate is located.
Picture: Germany's Wine Regions
1. Tauberfranken, in the northeastern outskirts of the region and neighbouring Franconia. The wines are similar to the wines of Franconia, and are sold in the round Bocksbeutel bottle.
2. Badische Bergstrasse, the vineyards is a continuation of the small region Hessische Bergstrasse. This district is situated around the city of Heidelberg.
3. Kraichgau, just to the south of Badische Bergstrasse, and north-east of the city of Karlsruhe.
4. Ortenau, from Baden-Baden to just south of Offenburg is one of the more well-known districts.
5. Breisgau, from just south of Offenburg and to Freiburg. It has the highest average temperature and the number of sunshine hours of the region.
6. Kaiserstuhl, a cluster of hills of volcanic origin northwest of Freiburg with characteristic terraced vineyards.
7. Tuniberg is situated on flatter land just south of Kaiserstuhl and west of Freiburg.
8. Markgräflerland stretches from Freiburg to the Swiss border at Basel, and is known for its easy-drinking Gutedel wines.
9. Bodensee is situated in the southeastern outskirts of the region, on the northwestern shores of Lake Constance.
Baden is known for its Pinot wines, both white and red,which account for more than half of Baden’s wine output. Riesling plays only a minor role. by far the most commonly cultivated single variety is Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) with nearly forty percent of the total vineyard area. Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Chasselas are the main white varieties cultivated, but none more widely than Muller-Thurgau.
Picture: Weingut Huber
In Baden - like in Wuerttemberg - the Wine industry is dominated by wine co-operatives; they account for 85% of the region's production. This explains the low export share. Private winemakers are the exception.
In the US, Pinot Noir shows best in Oregon and California. The reputation that gets Pinot Noir so much attention, however, is owed to the wines of the Bourgogne in France, where it has probably been cultivated since at least the 4th century. Regardless of where it’s grown, Pinot Noir is not typically a value wine. That is so because Pinot Noir is such a delicate grape that it is difficult and expensive to grow and make into the spectacular wine it can be. It is sensitive to climate and soil, Pinot Noir needs warmth (but not intense heat) to thrive and does well in chalky soils. As the German name implies, it ripens late (spät).
Der Feinschmecker, the leading German food and wine journal, carried in the November 2009 issue an article about German red wine. Its message is that Germany has established itself as a serious red wine country during the past 30 years. Der Feinschmecker portraits 10 winemakers behind this wine revolution. One of them is Bernhard Huber. It is not for no reason that he was Gault Millau’s wine producer of the year in 2007.
Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Yquem Viehauser
The Huber Estate is located in Malterdingen in the Breisgau area. In 1987 Bernhard Huber and his wife Barbara started their own Estate, leaving the co-operative.
The vineyard area totals 26 hectares, with holdings in the Bienenberg (Malterdingen), Schlossberg (Hecklingen) and Sommerhalde (Bombach) sites. 70 % is planted with Pinot Noir, the rest with Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Freisamer, Muskateller, Müller-Thurgau, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The Huber Estate is a member of the VDP and the Deutsches Barrique-Forum association.
The Huber Wine Portfolio
All Huber wines are dry. He does not produce any botrytised noble sweet wines or ice wines, nor does he stop the fermentation or add Suessreserve to generate sweetness in the finished wine. All his wines are fully fermented, dry and at around 13.5 percent alcohol.
The wine portfolio contains about 2/3 red and 1/3 white wines. All red wines are Spaetburgunder. White wines are in equal parts Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder.
The red wines always ferment on the skin and lay in the oak barrel for up to 18 months before bottling. Weingut Huber has about 600 barrique barrels and replaces about 150 barrels each year.
Weingut Huber also produces sparkling wine – brut, of course, for Euro 16.50.
A lot of the wines are in the 20, 30 or 40 Euro category. Weingut Huber is clearly interested in super premium wines and not in day-to-day easy drinking wines.
Let’s take the 2007 Hecklinger Schlossberg Spaetburgunder Grosses Gewaechs for Euro 45. Several factors come to play as was referred to during the tasting: the quality of the vineyard, the Hecklinger Schlossberg is a Erste Lage wine; the age of the vines, 6 to 35 years; the use of the barrique barrel, 18 months aged in barrique barrels, and, importantly, the yield limitation, 2800 liter per hectar.
Malterdingen, Baden, Germany
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