Well, let me tell you, I'm glad I tried it! Simply because it was exactly what I needed. I wanted something a bit special, and this wine was definitely that. It matched the mood, and the spaghetti bolognese dinner also! I was a little worried that it might be too light for a rich, meaty feast, however, it was great. The acidity cut through the richness, and the fruity flavours were just bold enough to match those of the sauce. 20-30 minutes out of the bottle to air, and it was ready and raring to go.
The wine in more detail then...
In the glass, it looked like Pinot Noir. Fairly translucent, ruby red of medium intensity. Held up to the light it showed a slight sign of purple youth at the rim, but away from the light, against white paper, it had a lovely maroon quality that gave it depth. Definitely not brick or garnet though, far to young for that.
The nose was brilliant. Initially I got intense, vibrant fruit with loads of spice. It was rich, plump and very intriguing. The fruits were cherry, blackberry, raspberry and a hint of cassis. There were some classic Pinot aromas to it as well, with some vegetal notes and musty leaves. A little bit of green pepper and something floral added a bit of sweetness too! Adding to this was a hint of vanilla and wood from some very well-judged oak.
On the palate, this wine got better. It was rounded and balanced, dry but refreshing. If anything, the acidity stood out a touch when drank without food, but that was no real concern. Not a great deal of tannins, but definitely there. Sufficient for a lovely mouthfeel, and for aging purposes, but really soft and almost hidden underneath the fruit. The mid-palate was soft and juicy, with sweet cherries coming to the fore. The body was bulked-out a little by the alcohol, 13.5 % being more typical of a meaty new-world Pinot rather than one from Germany! That said, it was only mildly noticeable in the finish, and again the term would be 'balanced'. The finish was quite long and lingering, stretching out the acidity and alcohol, but also the lovely fruit. My palate was left feeling invigorated but refreshed, and wanting more.
I struggled to pin this wine down with regards to style. There were elements of it that reminded me of rich, fruit-forward Pinot Noir from Central Otago, or maybe even from the slightly warmer Mornington Peninsula. I also found elements that reminded me of old-world burgundy though. The oak was subtle and just lovely, and the acidity expected of cooler climates, like Germany, shone through. Maybe this is what Pinot from Pfalz is just like? Maybe it's the wine-maker, Herr Stepp? It may have to be that I need to do more practice, oh dear... ;-)
If you can't tell by now, I really enjoyed this wine, a lot. It's a great wine for drinking on it's own, or with food. As I've hopefully conveyed, it's delicious now, or it could be cellared happily for another 4-5 years. Given the strength but balance of it's facets, I have no doubt that this wine will mature beautifully, and develop some magnificent tertiary aromas and flavours. As I've said, the Stepp Pinot Noir is available from Naked Wines. Their 'normal' price of £18.49 isn't too steep for a wine of this quality, and the 'Angel' price of £13.49 is a 'freakin' steal! If you've got some already, I give you permission to feel smug. If you haven't got any, go buy some! I think I may stock up a little before it runs out. Gerd Stepp also produces a Riesling (2011, Naked Wines angel's price of £12.99) that I cannot wait to try.