If Germany’s finest white wines are produced from Riesling, its red wine counterpart is the Spätburgunder grape.
Germany ranks third worldwide after France and the USA in area devoted to Spätburgunder. With some 11,300 ha of Spätburgunder vines, an area equal to 11% of the country’s vineyard area.
Burgundy is the acknowledged home of Spätburgunder, where it might have been culti- vated since the 4th century or earlier; the earli- est documented mentions date from the late 14th century.
Traditionally, the finest wines are made from completely ripe grapes. Many growers age their premium wines, such as Grosse or Erste Gewächse, in barriques. Ranging in color from ruby to garnet red, Spätburgunder wines are slightly tannic, mild in acidity, and have a long nish, with aromas reminiscent of blackberry and cherry.
This very old varietal needs much care and makes high demands on climate and soil. It thrives in the very best sites. If growing conditions are right, it reaches top form and rewards all efforts with the most wonderful red wines in the world.
Spätburgunder red wines should be served at room temperature between 64 and 68°F. Powerful, full-bodied Spätburgunder is best with roasted meat or game and aged hard cheese.