When I was in Germany earlier this year with my coworkers and management of Rudi Wiest Selections, tasting the new releases from the estates we represent, we were all floored and surprised at how delicious the 2008 Rebholz Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) Tradition was. In fact, I think I even heard Rudi Wiest himself say that this was the best vintage of Rebholz Pinot Noir Tradition he had ever tasted. The Rebholz Pinot Noir Tradition is their entry level Pinot Noir - "Tradition" simply means their "basic" wine here - this is not single vineyard, it is essentially their "Estate" offering. But this very basic Pinot Noir is not so basic in its price point; it wholesales for over $30 a bottle and retails for about $45 and is on wine lists for about $70-$80, so because of this, it doesn't get as much play as less expensive Pinot Noirs in our portfolio.
Well, the 2008 vintage of this Pinot Noir was so good, that I decided right then and there in Hansjorg Rebholz's tasting room that when I returned to the U.S., I would pull some samples of the 2007 we had in stock (2008 would be coming in several months) and show off the beautiful wine.
Finally, two days ago, I opened a bottle and poured it for several of my restaurant and retail accounts. The reaction was interesting - not what I expected. The wine was rich in color and body, which normally appeals well to many a North American palate - but my audience felt the wine showed too much oak on the nose and on the palate. As though the wine was disjointed both in its aroma and in its flavor profile, with too much new oak and cedar showing through. It was surprising to everyone - people have come to expect German Pinot Noirs to be elegant and ethereal and light on their feet, never showing excessive oak like their New World counterparts.... but here they found it in the 2007 Rebholz Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) Tradition. I was also confused by this.
Day 2, I continued to show the wine, after letting the bottle rest in my fridge overnight. Again, I got the same reaction with the wine. After a second day of lack of success in converting any of my accounts to this wine, I gave up. I left what was left of the wine on my counter.
Day 3 - It's Friday night. My husband inquires about half bottle of red wine sitting on the counter. I answered "I don't think it will be any good. It's day 3. It's a Pinot Noir. It's probably no good anymore. Plus, I didn't get very good reactions to the wine when I showed it." I was not really enthusiastic about the wine, as you can tell about my comments.
We tasted it anyway. And lo and behold, it was fantastic! Even before I tasted it, actually. I stuck my nose into the glass and the aroma already told the whole story. There wasn't that aggressive oak that everyone was complaining about when I opened it for my customers. Instead, there was a beautiful bouquet of red roses intermingling with black cherries and vanilla bean. Absolutely nothing that reminded me of oak. Nothing! On the palate, the wine is bold while being silky, with some grippy tannins, but very balanced acidity and fruit and structure. Completely perfect in its richness - a terrific Pinot Noir for those who don't like their Pinots too delicate, because this one is not.
While I thought this wine on day 3 would be oxidized and unpleasant, it was perfect, absolutely perfect, and this is what I should have been showing my customers all along, this specimen of beauty and strength instead of that tight, angular, unbalanced wine that obviously did not get enough air and breathing room in the last 2 days.
I am still at this time enjoying a sip of the beautiful 2007 Rebholz Pinot Noir Tradition, wishing that this is how it showed when I was dragging it from place to place. If only I had known to open it two days earlier, sat it on the counter, letting it breath a bit around a loosely replaced cork.... if only I knew, it would be on a few more wine lists and in a few more wine shops.
Alas I have another sample and I can do just that with it.