Fritz Wassmer is truly an all-round farmer – not content with raising strawberries, asparagus and Christmas trees, he produces World-class wines from his estate in Southern Baden. Daughter Lisa is only half joking when she says that the only holiday she is allowed all year is Christmas day.
Fritz’s Pinot Noir, or Spatburgunder as they call the grape in Baden, has won numerous awards including best in class in several annual Decanter Magazine tastings – ‘It has been quite a success for the self-trained late starter, who only began making wine from his 26 ha plot in Baden in 1998. Wassmer got the bug when he went to the Domaine de la Romanée Conti to help with the harvest one year.
He returned to Baden with a pressing desire to make proper, Burgundian style Pinot – that he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams is something no one would now dispute.’
The village wines are made with the same care and dedication as the stratospheric Pinot Noirs. Wassmer makes a wide variety of them – again in Decanter, the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 won the best of that variety under 10 euros.
This year Fritz has introduced a couple of easy-drinking wines that are pure pleasure to drink on their own or with light food. Pinot in Weiss (Pinot in White) and Pinot in Rot (Pinot in Red) have minerality and finesse combined with roundness and character.
Both are available to taste.
Also at the tasting is the 2017 vintage of the award-winning Sauvignon Blanc – lighter and finer than supermarket versions from New Zealand etc. – with only 12.3 degrees alcohol allowing the fruity, blackcurrant-leaf and gooseberry flavours to shine through.
Finally, in the whites, we have Grauer Burgunder, probably better known these days as Pinot Grigio. This is a different proposition to the industrial flavourless versions made to meet the demand for the Italian crowd pleaser. Grauer Burgunder may be harder to pronounce but it is a lot easier to drink!
Red wine in Germany is one of the best kept secrets of the wine world today – the best are snaffled up by the domestic market, especially restaurants which value their ability to match with food.
The unusual Pinot & Syrah blend gives the sweet fruit of the Pinot Noir a boost with peppery, spicy Syrah notes. The Syrah (Shiraz) grape in Northern climes has many of the characteristics of the thin-skinned, fussy Pinot and together with the Wassmer winemaking skills they make a tasty and versatile mouthful.
At last we come to the Spatburgunder – or Pinot Noir. Originally Wassmer Pinots were humorously graded like clothes sizes M – XXL. The 2015 vintage in Baden yielded very rich wines and the Spatburgunder M has some of the weight and complexity of its bigger brothers whilst maintaining its sleek, elegant lines (without even a hint of bagginess!).