Top wine scribe pens paean to Germany’s No.1 Pinot producer
James Halliday has long been a huge fan of the late Bernhard Huber, whose wines prompted the Australian wine oracle to pen a piece back in the day entitled “German Pinot Noir – why you need it in your life”. That admiration went right across the range. “As you ascend the steps of the quality ladder of Huber,” Halliday wrote, “the quality of each wine seems to be incapable of being overtaken, but it is.”
Bernhard Huber died of illness in June 2014, and it’s his son Julian who now holds the reins. With Bernhard’s long-serving assistant Yquem Viehhauser at his side, Julian’s taking the wines to greater heights. The possibilities of these beautiful Baden sites and their limestone underpinnings are endless. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir love these conditions, with assertive acidity and salty minerality to drive the ripe fruit deep and long.
James had a look at a set of back-vintage Huber wines some time ago and loved them so much he lost his notes. Then he found them again and sent them through, so we thought we’d put them here among other brilliant bits and pieces.
White fruit, struck match, spicy oak, hazelnut, dried herb and flower perfume. Rich in oak and flavour, lime and toasted nuts, spicy and firm, intense acidity, toasty oak and grip on a nuts and lime finish of good length. No shrinking violet, that’s for sure.94 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front April 2019
The colour is excellent, bright, clear and youthful. It’s a wine still in the first phase of development, the fruit and tannins both firm. No fears for the future, the length and balance won’t change. Drink to 2025.93 points. James Halliday October 2020
Bernhard Huber made this Germany’s number one Pinot Noir estate, and his son Julian is taking it forward in great strides. Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Pinot Noir is the expression of the family’s beautiful home village and its impeccably situated vineyards. The wine shows vibrancy and crunch, with clear precise cherry and red berry fruit, silky tannins, salty mineral tones and a streak of Old World acidity.
Still deeply coloured, purple dominating crimson. The very expressive bouquet is fuelled by primary fruit, not oak or spice, although it’s quite certain the spices will bloom with time. Plum also joins the party, oak adding its voice alongside the tannins. Drink to 2028.95 points. James Halliday October 2020
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
The colour is excellent, as with all the Huber wines. It is a strikingly spicy/savoury wine, with the longest, lingering aftertaste of all the 2015 wines. Oak and whole bunch notes join hands to frame the red cherry/berry fruits at the heart of the wine. Drink to 2025.94 points. James Halliday October 2020
The faintly turbid colour doesn’t set the heart racing, but the perfumed bouquet does with its cherry all-sorts fruit and multi-spices, the supple palate underlining the great quality of the wine. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Burgundy of this calibre at the same price. Drink to 2030. 97 points. James Halliday October 2020
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
The 5.5ha vineyard is planted on a slope up to 72% at a density of 6250 to 13 000 vines per hectare, the yield 28 hectolitres per hectare (1.75 tonnes per acre). The bouquet and palate share exceptional complexity with a refrain of spice, forest, and oak woven through the red and black cherry fruit, the flavours building as the wine’s intensity becomes mouthwatering. Drink to 2030.96 points. James Halliday October 2020
The 2016 Hecklinger Schlossberg Spätburgunder GG is deep, pure and intense on the spicy and mineral-flavoured nose, where black currant and underwood notes are displayed and interwoven with delicate liquorice flavours. Smooth and gentle on the palate but pure, lush and concentrated, this is a highly vital and finessed Pinot Noir with generous, lush and charming fruit, fine, silky tannins and a lingering mineral freshness. The finish is very long and aromatic and reveals an impressive intensity.93-94 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate November 2018
Every single aspect of the wine exudes class, commencing with the bright, clear colour, immediately followed by the entrancing bouquet with fruit, spice and oak all contributing. The juicy, silky palate has exceptional length and aftertaste, a true peacock’s tail display. Drink to 2027.96 points. James Halliday October 2020