The synonym ‘Frühburgunder’ (lit. ‘Early Burgundy’) for this wine, describes its early ripening characteristic, which is approximately two weeks earlier than the Spätburgunder (lit. ‘Late Burgundy’). Pinot Noir Précoce is grown primarily in Germany, France and Italy, however it can also be found in Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
Frühburgunder - Nearly Extinct by the 1960s
At the beginning of the 1960s, the grape variety Pinot Noir Précoce had almost vanished from German vineyards. At that time it was only still cultivated on an area of 15 hectares. Thanks to the clone cultivars at the Ingelheim Winery Julius Wasem Rodensteiner Hof, the Pinot Noir Précoce survived. In the mid-1970s, the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute initiated its selective breeding. By 2009 this grape variety was re-introduced to a total viticultural area of 256 hectares, especially in Rhinehessen and the Ahr. At the Festival of Flavors of the international Slow Food Nations, it is listed as a regionally typical grape variety that plays a role in defining local identity.
Pinot Noir Précoce Wines - High Quality Complexity
The Pinot Noir Précoce looks almost the same as the Pinot Noir. It produces bunches of relatively small, closely grown grapes, and the flavour-producing substances of the dark blue to violet-blue berries are found primarily in their relatively thick skins. Because they ripen earlier, these grapes are rarely afflicted by botrytis cinerea, a type of fungus that is often called ‘grey mould’. The Pinot Noir Précoce variety is less sensitive to cold than many other grapes and flourishes best in deep, slightly warm soil with a high chalk content. Good locations often produce very high quality wines that can top even some Pinot Noirs.
Wines from this grape variety are characterised by their full body, velvety texture, mild acidity, and complex notes of berries and cherry. Smoky notes may also play a role in Pinot Noir Précoce varietal wines. These wines often don’t unfold their full potential until they have been stored for a long period of five years - or even ten years if they have been matured in barrique.