Hexamer Spatburgunder Weissherbst Halbtrocken 2018
A true white Pinot Noir, not a rosé, it smells and tastes as much like a cocktail as a wine; ripe, smoky, with a “sense” of alcohol; the fruit is discreet, but there’s a zing of mint. It’s fun, clear, delicious, not merely a novelty but a thing of charm and length and originality.
Harald Hexamer’s dedication is seen both his work in the vineyards and in the cellars. Hexamer holds 7.5 hectares in the Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg, a steep south-east facing slope of red sandstone with deposits of quartzite, which is known for producing especially small berries. Hexamer often harvests riper grapes from another site (Marbach) but the wines of Rheingrafenberg grapes are “more filigree and better-structured.” Schlossböckelheimer In den Felsen (“In the Rocks”) is a small vineyard at 6.5 hectares, of which the Hexamer’s own 4.5. The vineyard is markedly steep with south facing slopes composed of rocky porphyry and produces wines characterized by softer acidity and a subtle smokiness.
Hexamer’s meticulous work in the vineyard is marked by pruning to control yields (“often six to eight bunches per wine”) and hand-harvesting. The grapes are picked exclusively by hand and fermented very cold (below 12 degrees celsius) with cooling utilized only when necessary – “but we often pick so late we bring naturally cold fruit — below 10 degrees — back to the winery.” Hexamer handles the wine as little as possible: no dosage is used, inoculations are made only with native yeasts, and all wines are whole-cluster pressed. 95% of all Rieslings at Hexamer are made in stainless steel and racked only once, three to six weeks after fermentation is complete. The wines are bottled early to preserve their vigor. For the Burgundian varieties, Harald constructed his own barrels in Meddersheim using oak from the Hunsrück forest seasoned for 5 years. When tasting the wines, one sees the purity of the vineyards, the intensity of minerality and remarkable clarity. Hexamer’s wines are balanced in the ultraviolet spectrum; they’re steely, acid-driven, clean and transparent.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”