dr hinkel For Pinot Noir lovers, cold weather pinots can be thin and simple. Frankly, German Pinot (called Spätburgunder) has a bad reputation. Furthermore, the Rheinhessen is not noted for its red wines with plantings of Pinot Noir still very much a minority(around 5%). But the Hinkel family, a large producer with 300 years of viticultural tradition, largely succeeds with this one.

Cherry with dusty, earthy notes on the nose and cherry on the palate with herbal notes and fennel that take over very quickly, the initially soft, creamy texture gives way to a peppery, briary midpalate and finish. I found this a little firm and unyielding on the palate lacking the suppleness characteristic of the better pinots. But there is plenty of flavor and enough complexity to keep my attention.

It is advertised as a Spätlese halbtrocken (i.e. late harvest, semi-dry) but if there is some residual sugar it is not noticeable. As with most German wines, robust, bright acidity makes this a satisfying food wine.

For those accustomed to California and Oregon Pinot Noir, this will not offer sufficient power or concentration. But if you’re tired of big and bold and want a little shyness and reticence, this is a pleasant and distinctive expression of the grape. And given the fact that inexpensive pinots are usually wretched, the price to quality ratio is definitely in its favor.

Alcohol: 12.5%

Good: Pleasant, good food wine

Bad: Lacks concentration and intensity

Distinctive: Interesting expression of Pinot Noir

Price: $16