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UK is the most sophisticated' market for Pinot Noir

Published:  23 July, 2008

Top German red producer August Kesseler called the UK the most sophisticated' market for Pinot Noir last week but said it would be a long time' before German producers of the noble grape could gain a significant foothold. Kesseler, of Weingut August Kesseler, was speaking at what was billed as the first ever German red wine symposium', organised by German wine specialist Wine Barn at London's Capital Hotel on 19 August.

He told the tutored tasting that he exports to Japan and the US (50%) but wants to start selling to the UK. His Assmannshausen estate in the Rheingau has won a Best Red Wine of the Year award in Germany.

Kesseler added that he had been exporting for 10 years and that every top restaurant in New York stocked his wine, so Harpers asked him why he was only now thinking about the UK.

The image of German wine here is the blue bottle and Liebfraumilch,' he said. People here do not know that we are doing great Pinot Noir. It will take time to introduce these to the UK, and it will not be an easy or fast sell. We have to get the story across because nobody will pick "August Kesseler" from a wine list here.

There is a lot of work to be done, and it is a challenge and needs investment,' he continued. We have to find people who believe in the wines and trust them. We have a long way to go.'

He showed his Sptburgunder (Pinot Noir) wines from the 2002 and 2003 vintages, including his Cuve Max; Assmannshuser Hllenberg and Rdesheimer Berg Schlossberg. None of these wines was chaptalised, and the '03s were rich and powerful reflecting the abnormally hot vintage.

Joachim Heger, of Weingut Dr Heger, said that the quality image of Pinot Noirs from Germany had been adversely affected by other producers making wines to sell early by heating up the must and skins to accelerate extraction. He warned that these wines had no ageing potential. Arne Bercher from Baden also showed wines.