Baden, and in particular the pretty range of hills known as the Kaiserstuhl (‘Emperor’s Chair’), is the traditional seat of German Pinot Noir production. This is a volcanic outcrop on the Rhine plain overlooking Alsace, with a mix of warm volcanic and stony loess soils: Holger Koch’s small nine-hectare estate lies at its heart. On taking over from his parents in 1999, he immediately replanted with small-berried French clones from Alsace and Burgundy. He makes Pinot Blanc, Gris and Noir, and has a particular passion for the latter. All his wines are finely structured and aromatic, and they age extremely well.
The Kaiserstuhl was lucky in 2022 – while other regions had to endure a lack of rain throughout the summer, it rained plentifully in June, and a single day in July saw 35mm rainfall. In August, another storm gave just enough water to refresh the vines, and a plentiful crop of perfectly healthy grapes was harvested, begin-ning early on 30 August, so as to preserve acidity. The wines are rich, ripe and melting, with excellent freshness and moderate levels of alcohol.
2021 was cooler than the preceding three vintages, and yields were low as the result of a biting spring frost and poor flowering. Fine weather in August allowed the grapes to ripen apace, and harvest began in mid-September, a little later than the norm these days – a full two weeks after the warmer 2022. No whole bunches were used, as the berries were small with little juice, and Holger felt it was not needed. The reds have an appealing juicy purity and are lower in alcohol than in the past few years, which suits the Koch style of delicate purity better than warmer years. It is a great vintage.
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