That intro to the ’15 Schlossberg GG review is a reminder of what we’ve known for a long time now: When it comes to German Pinot Noir, Weingut Bernhard Huber is the best there is. Once upon a time, one might have been tempted to crack a cheap gag about one-eyed kings in the land of the blind. But not only has Spätburgunder in general taken great leaps in quality and desirability lately; Huber has spent decades as Pinot royalty on a global scale. Michael Schmidt, the German wine specialist at JancisRobinson.com, recalls 1990 chez Huber with great reverence and fondness. “I have been fortunate enough to taste his flagship wine from that vintage several times over a number of years, and can only confirm that the last bottle I shared with an eminent wine critic in 2011 convinced both of us not only that it was world class, but also that it still had enough life in it for almost eternity.”
It was Schmidt who called the late Bernhard Huber Germany’s “wizard of Pinot Noir”. The sorcerer’s apprentice, Bernhard’s son Julian, is weaving magic from this same superb, limestone-rich terroir. It’s more than two years since Wine Advocate’s Stephan Reinhardt declared: “There is no doubt that the future of Weingut Bernhard Huber has already begun and it has already achieved a very high level.” That bar has been raised even higher – as Reinhardt’s reviews of the 2016s, coupled with the rapturous reception from the James Suckling team, attest.
Vintage 2015 was characterised by a very mild winter and warm temperatures during spring – good conditions for even shooting of the vines. This constancy continued through the whole cycle, resulting in very good flowering. With remarkable, high summer temperatures in 2015 the grapes ripened very well and the vineyards pulled through the dryness surprisingly well s. We responded by picking early (we started at the end of August), and thus managed to keep vivid acid structure. Then, with the cold night-time temperatures that followed, wonderful fruit structure came through. We’ve never had such a relaxed harvest before. – Julian Huber
2015 Bernhard Huber Weissburgunder RRP $53
The wine was fermented mainly in stainless steel tanks to accentuate its bright fruit. A smaller portion was vinified in oak barrels, which gives it depth and reverberation. The wine is very light yellow with lively, floral, white fruit. The palate shows nectarines and melon. It’s rich and crisp with good acidity and a well rounded finish.
2015 Bernhard Huber Alte Reben Chardonnay RRP $96
The grapes for this Chardonnay are grown on yellow limestone. We harvest the Alte Reben at 35hl/ha. The wild yeast fermentation as well as the malolactic conversion is done in one-third new oak, with one-third two-year-old and one-third older barrels. After 20 months on the lees the wine is bottled unfiltered. Chardonnay grown on weathered limestone always shows characteristics of fine-fruited freshness, vivid acid structure and a fine finish. – Julian Huber
2015 Bernhard Huber Pinot Noir RRP $53
This is the winery’s regional wine and comes from young vines between six and 12 years old. Even for this basic wine the estate conducts green harvesting in order to reduce the crop to about 65 hl/ha. It spends 25 days in stainless steel with 15 to 20% whole bunches, then a year or so in 2nd and 3rd use oak.
2015 Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Pinot Noir RRP $64The Malterdinger Pinot Noir is the village wine from Weingut Huber in Baden. Fruit comes from vines of up to 25 years of age, with deeper roots, 30 to 35% whole bunch. After harvesting the grapes with a crop round 55 hl per ha, this wine matures for 12 months in three- and four-year-old barriques.
2015 Bernhard Huber Alte Reben Pinot Noir RRP $96
In quality terms, the Alte Reben is Huber’s equivalent to a Premier Cru. This Pinot comes from vines of up to 40 years old. Huber harvests the Alte Reben at 37 hl/ha. The ferment contains 35 to 40% whole bunches, with some parcels from the Bienenberg vineyard also going into this. This wine is bottled unfiltered. It has complex, deep aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate and spice but also soft tannins, a frisky-elegant character with a fine echo.
2015 Bernhard Huber Bienenberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $149
Huber’s holdings in the grand cru Bienenberg vineyard were planted in the ‘50s and ‘60s with primarily German clones. They are the oldest on the estate. Of the approximately 130-hectare Bienenberg Vineyard, Huber owns 15 hectares. Of this, about 10.45 ha is classified Grosses Gewächs. The soil is yellow-reddish shell limestone. The aspect is south-east to south-west. Part of the vineyard is on a 15% slope (so passable with vineyard equipment) and part is on small, steeply ascending terraces (up to 60% gradient). The average vine age is between two and 53 years and yields are around 30 hl/ha. The Pinot Noir is marked by red fruits with hints of violets. Equipped with power and elegance, it takes time to play out its potential.
From the stunning ripeness on the nose (the sweetest cherries!), through the graceful entry, through the generous and silky mid-palate and again through the powerful, chalky finish, which has staggering vitality, this is a great pinot noir that’s just beginning to reveal its riches. Better from 2019 and on the strength of earlier vintages, this has maybe 20 years’ ageing potential. 96 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com April 2018
Julian Huber’s 2015 Bienenberg Spätburgunder GG shows a lovely, vital ruby red colour and opens a bit reductive still, with a clear, fresh and well-defined bouquet of red fruits, crushed stones and spicy and floral aromas. It is a full-bodied, firm, fresh and finessed Pinot Noir with a serious tannin structure and persistent vitality. This is a terribly clear and precise Pinot, and the finish is really cleansing and stimulating. Tasted at the “VDP Grosses Gewächs” presentation in Wiesbaden, August 2017. 92 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
2015 Bernhard Huber Schlossberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $197
Bright yellowish limestone par excellence. Schlossberg is considered the most concise vineyard in Breisgau and has been used for viticulture since 1492. It’s a steep slope on a gradient of up to 72% (in the Kapelleberg part up to 96%). It requires purely manual work and the mineral, skeleton-rich soil with bright yellowish limestone is geologically rare within the Black Forest foothills. The main orientation is south to south west. It’s an absolutely top location for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Of the vineyard’s 50 hectares, Huber’s holdings are 6 ha, of which 5.49 ha are classified as Grosses Gewächs. The 6- to 35-year-old vines are planted with a density 6,250-13,000 vines/ha. The yield here is 28 hl/ha. The steep slope makes for very intense sun radiation. The wines have great inner warmth and depth, a firm structure, pronounced minerality and strong fruit.
Hold onto your hat, because here comes the most amazing Pinot Noir bottled in Germany during modern times! The blackest berries you can imagine are the main feature on the nose, but it’s still so delicate and lacking any trace of overripeness. The interplay of concentrated fruit and superfine tannins creates an enveloping impression on the palate, then on the finish the seamless harmony extends in the direction of eternity. You could drink this now, but the 2009 is still youthful and gives an idea of the ageing potential. 98 points. Top 100 German Wines 2018, jamessuckling.com
The 2015 Hecklinger Schlossberg Spätburgunder GG offers a beautifully clear, precise and aromatic bouquet of red fruits intertwined with fresh and flinty as well as herbal and floral aromas. Great purity and precision here! Full-bodied and generous on the palate but also pure, fresh and delicate, with super fine tannins, this is a highly elegant, intense and silky textured Pinot Noir from the very steep Schlossberg. The finish reveals the tight structure of this wine but also its feminine and delicate side. This is another great Pinot Noir from Julian Huber who has produced his finest red wines thus far in 2015. Tasted in Wiesbaden in August 2017. 94 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
2015 Bernhard Huber Wildenstein Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $408
The name means “wild stone”, and the site is distinguished by small terraces, some of which have ancient, dry stone walls. Pinot Noir was brought here 700 years ago by Cistercian monks from Burgundy. The soil is reddish from iron deposits with some very rocky ground, forcing the vines to root deeply and providing useful trace elements and minerals which are reflected in the wines. The planting density is between 5,000 and 10,000 vines/ha. This deeply mineral, finely structured wine is the greatest expression of Pinot Noir from Huber, and has the greatest ageing potential.
The 2015 Bienenberg Spätburgunder GG Wildenstein has a super clear, deep, fresh and mineral bouquet of dark fruits, crushed stones and flowers. It is a full-bodied and very generous Pinot Noir with a calm flow over the palate as well as great finesse and elegance. The tannins are very finely grained and carry this complex and expressive wine into a long, persistent finish. The Wildenstein combines power with finesse, and the finish is intriguingly juicy. This is a great German Pinot Noir and surely one of the finest you can find from this vintage. Tasted in Wiesbaden in August 2017. 94 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
2013 AND ’14 ALTE REBEN & GRANDS CRUS
2014 Bernhard Huber Alte Reben Pinot Noir RRP $96
Cool, smoky aromatics of black cherry, malted milk chocolate and clean fresh mountain air. The palate immediately seduces with generous plushness thanks to the partial whole bunch fermentation. The stylish mid palate is bursting with bright small red berry fruit flavours which continue evenly throughout and lead to a fine, long finish and with a fragrant, lingering aftertaste. Within Huber’s quality hierarchy this is equivalent to Premier Cru (red burgundy) level and would give most of those a pretty decent run for their money.– Frank Wilden, Business Insider July 2018
2013 Bernhard Huber Alte Reben Pinot Noir RRP $96
MAGNUM RRP $206
Plenty of smoky whole bunch spice here, along with a fair amount of toasted hazelnut oak, dark cherry and dark chocolate. Lively and spicy in the mouth, a medium-bodied frame, cherries, sausage and roast nuts again, with a pulsating acidity, grainy tannin, and a long tangy finish, a mineral feel, closing with a distinctly umami aftertaste. Different expression of Pinot Noir, but so worthy. 94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front July 2017
2013 Bernhard Huber Sommerhalde Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $132
MAGNUM RRP $297
The Sommerhalde charms with a seductive perfume of exotic spices, orchard blossom and fine cigar smoke. On the palate things get a little more intense with lashings of fleshy plums and juicy morello cherries making the early running, only to be reined in by flavours of dark chocolate, dust from the grindstone, roasted hazelnuts and a subtle mix of herbs and spices. Still youthful, but already very elegant. 18/20 Michael Schmidt jancisrobinson.com September 2015
2014 Bernhard Huber Bienenberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $132
Calling it the spice girl of Spätburgunders does not insinuate that the Bienenberg is shallow, but the choice of barrique has resulted in an extremely spicy fragrance. Cloves and nutmeg also dominate the palate, giving the fruit a hard time at this early stage. Fortunately, minerality refuses to be suppressed and makes its presence felt with a pronounced salty tang. There can be no doubt about the underlying substance, but a little more fruit will be welcome, if and when it emerges. 17/20. Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com August 2016
2013 Bernhard Huber Bienenberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $132
MAGNUM RRP $297
Quite reserved in its fragrance, the Bienenberg nevertheless grants delightful glimpses of bramble, blackberries and bonfire smoke. The palate is far more generous and reflects the Bienenberg’s proximity to the Black Forest by a gateau-like richness of sweet cherries, but although the fruit is juicy and the texture creamy, assertive tannins and healthy acidity make sure that the wine is not lacking in structure. 17.5/20 Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com September 2015
2014 Bernhard Huber Schlossberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $164
Deep ruby. Still very undeveloped, but the complexity of the chocolate, earthy and herbal notes is already very impressive. On the palate, there’s a stunning harmony of almost perfect ripeness and elegant dry tannins that make this the stand out as the Spätburgunder of the vintage in Germany.96 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com October 2016
2013 Bernhard Huber Schlossberg Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $164
MAGNUM RRP $346.50
None of Huber’s Grosse Gewächse are short of fruit, but although the Schlossberg exhibits its fair fragrance of plums and blackberries, they merely act in support of a darker and deeper minerally expression. Shaved pencil, graphite and forest undergrowth represent a most intriguing and almost mysterious composition of aromas. On the palate the fruit of dark berries insists on its juicy ways, supported by fine spices, but then a cool stony notion takes command. Compact structure, full body and firm grip demand to be given time to agree on harmony. 18/20 Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com September 2015
2014 Bernhard Huber Wildenstein Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $371
MAGNUM RRP $742.50
From an iron-rich, shell limestone soil, the 2014 Malterdinger Bienenberg Spätburgunder GG Wildenstein offers a subtle, very refined and coolish bouquet. It is aristocratic, fresh and elegant, with red fruits, vegetative flavors (nettles) and some dashes of lime juice; it also has floral and very discreet oak aromas. Just perfect in its distinguished flavors. Round, fresh and elegant on the generous, but elegant palate, this has nice grip, but some harsher and mealy oak tannins in the finish. This is a promising wine with tension, freshness, grip and refreshing lemon flavors in the finish. 91-93 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate August 2016
2013 Bernhard Huber Wildenstein Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs RRP $320
Elegant nose with the purity of Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser (German equivalent of the finest of eau-de-vie-de-cerises), sweet cherries and a dusting of dark chocolate. Fragrant nuances of cedar spice, cloves and the smoke of exquisite cigars drift above the glass. On the palate plums and cherries in cognac bring great generosity of fruit to the flavour, but a subtle contribution of barrique prevents blurring of the edges. Spicy and smoky notes add further intrigue. The complex taste profile is well supported by a harmonious alliance of healthy acidity and unobtrusive tannins. 18.5/20 Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com September 2015