The Ratzenberger Spätburgunder trocken comes from a parcel of twenty-five-year-old vines on the mid-slope of the Bacharacher Wolfshöhle, a steep slate vineyard that was planted by the Romans in the time of Marcus Aurelius. The grapes were fermented on the natural ambient yeast, and the wine was matured for two years in neutral 1200 liter Stückfässer made from regional Hunsrück oak. In the glass, the wine has a pale ruby color that warms to bright mahoganey at the edge. The fabulous, exotic nose calls to mind a theoretical amalgam of fresh young Santa Maria Hills Pinot Noir and fully mature Côte de Beaune Burgundy, like an old Ampeau Volnay. Aromas of ripe persimmon, tart red plums, candied ginger, and strawberry preserves are dominant. On the palate, the wine grows voluminous, opening up like a peacock’s tail with fresh red fruit flavors that echo the nose, then becomes unexpectedly mouthfilling and substantial, always remaining fresh, supple, and vibrant.
About this wine producer: Weingut Ratzenberger is in the beautiful town of Bacharach-Steeg on the left bank of the Rhine, about a half-hour from the Frankfurt airport. It’s our favorite first stop in Germany. The guest apartment is one of the most comfortable places we stay, with the view through the bedroom window dominated by a wall of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) vines marching up the towering Steeger St. Jost.