A Tasty Pinot Noir for Dining Alfresco

Messmer Spätburgunder Trocken Pfalz 2007
Dana Nigro
Posted: May 20, 2009

After celebrating with a weekend away and a fair amount of Champagne, my husband and I marked our actual first anniversary, on a Monday night, with a quiet dinner at Trestle on Tenth, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner in Manhattan. It was a gorgeous, warm, summer-like evening, and we sat outside in the little courtyard under a flowering cherry tree.

Chef and owner Ralf Kuettel, born in Switzerland, serves food with Swiss accents (like the rösti and pizokel offered as sides), and the service is friendly and relaxed. The compact wine list offers an intriguing mix of small producers and less-heralded varieties, mostly from Old World regions. It's strong on wines from Alsace, Austria, Germany, the Loire, Switzerland (four Chasselas) and Northern Italy, plus a few selections from the Jura region of France, although Burgundy, Piedmont and the Rhône are also well-represented.

After starting with a Grüner Veltliner, we opted for a light red with our entrées: halibut with fiddleheads in a crawfish broth for me, and duck breast with roasted salsify, hedgehog mushrooms and figs for my husband (though he well knows by now that I'm going to be liberally sampling from his plate). The waiter suggested the Messmer Spätburgunder Trocken Pfalz 2007 ($10.50 a glass), a Pinot Noir from Germany, which he described as like "an Old-World Burgundy"—or, in other words, not for those who prefer their Pinots on the very ripe side.

Light-bodied and crisp, but full-flavored, the Spätburgunder showed bright berry and tart cherry fruit, with kirsch notes, and a refreshing minerality on the finish, with a hint of white pepper. A wine with a definite sense of place, it was excellent with the duck and a good option for anyone wishing to drink red with fish. 87 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Spätburgunders and other German reds, plus our quick list of Top Values among German Rieslings.

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