Baden is a large viticultural area, covering a range of 400km in latitude in the warmest wine region of Germany. Burgundian varieties, brought by Cistercians monks around the 14th century, shine here. Pinot gris also grows well here, as it does on the other side of the Rhine in Alsace.
Surprisingly, Baden is a forgotten region in WSET or daily conversations of wine enthusiasts. It really shouldn’t be. The wine culture is deeply rooted here. Driving along the west of the Black Forests reaveals a land spotted with vineyards in every slope and hill. And wine is indeed a popular drink in this region. It was a pleasant surprise to see busy wine bars as Alte Wache serving local wines in the Münsterplatz of Freiburg.
Recommending producers here is easy. Franz Keller is a safe bet for Pinot noir and Chardonnay, but our favourite is Bernhard Huber, located in Malterdinger, a few kilometers away from Freiburg. Bernhard pioneered high quality vinification of Pinot noir in Baden, becoming the best red wine producer in Germany in our opinion. Now his son Julian is continuing his work with a very modern palate. His wines are racy, perfumed and moderate in alcohol. Being our first trip after months of lockdown, we had to treat ourselves with some of their wines.
We started off our tasting with some Müller Thurgau (the best structured wine we have tried for this table wine variety) and Muscat, to then lift off the session with their Chardonnays. Racy, citrous and reductively mineral, it’s a true competitor to Puligny-Montrachet. Hats off to Julian. At this price, it will easily become our go-to Chardonnay.
We were then presented with a Blanc des Blancs and a rosé sekt. Impressive wines with an incredible purity, texture and razor sharp. 7 years on the lees help to create a soft and delicate mousse and a delicious, elegant autolysis. We would have this any day. We hope someone starts importing them to the UK soon.
We finished with the flagship of the house, the Pinot noirs. The cold air that descends from the Black Forest and the limestone soils near Malterdinger make very Burgundian wines. We were delighted by the precision and the uniqueness of terroir expressed by the GG bottlings. Schlossberg was our favourite, but the Malterdinger would make a phenomenal wine for more ordinary occassions.
It was interesting to compare side by side Julian’s fresh and early picked Pinot with the slightly riper style of Bernhard. Julian’s wines feature an elegant balance of acidity, ripeness, concentration with a very complex bouquet whereas his father’s have a touch more of sweetness and new oak which remind us more to the fashion of the 1990s and 2000s. An unforgettable experience. We came back home happy and with an extra case of wine.
Whenever we make a visit to a winery, we always try to surprise them with a fun bottle of wine from somewhere else. Something in a style similar to their wines, but new and unconventional. In this case, it was a 2018 Rozas 1er Cru from Comando G, a Garnacha from Madrid in such a light, perfumed and soft style, that it could be confused with a Pinot noir.