German pinot noir – Markus Molitor 2001

“It’s been a while since we had a wine meet up. Up for one this week? ” The Winerambler sent me that message one afternoon and who was I to refuse? He always has a great selection of German wines, many of which you just can’t get here in the UK.

We had a selection of reds and whites but the most interesting was probably the Markus Molitor Trarbacher Schloßberg 2001 pinot noir. Markus Molitor has been the winemaker since the tender age of 20. Although his family has owned the vineyard for 8 generations, it was  Markus who had the vision to restore his family (and by extension the Moselle Valley) wines to their former glory.

Pinot noir or spatburgunder has a long tradition in Germany but it’s only recently that the Molitor estate has  focused its full attention on the varietal. Molitor’s vineyard the the Trarbacher Scholsberg vineyard is situated on steep stony slopes with slatey soils, low yields, spontaneous fermentation and natural yeasts along with maturation in small oak barrels produce elegant, balanced wines.

duck pate

The WineRambler had a 2001 Molitor pinot noir set aside for us that evening and it was just fabulous. Autumnal leaves, mushroom, black truffle, tobacco and maybe a hint of pate (could have been the plate of pate that was sitting next to it but we won’t quibble on that). The nose was ever evolving and after some time we revisted it and I could swear that a savoury marrow aroma had now replaced the autumnal leaves. On swishing it around, a velvety palate, savoury black cherries with a smoky bitter chocolate finish. It was like someone had taken a bitter chocolate bar and stuck it in a smokehouse for a day or two. The ’01 was really showing well and Markus Molitor has certainly been able to do fantastic things with his pinot noir. Any red Burgundy lover would be very satisfied to have this wine to drink on a cool autumn eve.

Thanks again to The WineRambler for supplying us with his German wine treasures. If any of you have had similar experiences (or bad experiences) with German reds, please do leave a comment.


  1. Luckily, only the top of the range Pinot Noir seems to be getting up in price. And, well, I am always on the lookout for great Pinot anyway!

    • That is good news then! Those german pinots are great value. Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you soon! 🙂

  2. Oh, I forgot to add – here are our reviews of various other Molitor wines:

    • Thanks, Torsten! Guess you’ll have to scout out the next big thing since Molitor seems to be getting out of our price range.

  3. Brownbear101 /

    I took the Markus Molitor – Spatsburger Qualitätswein Trocken 2005 with dinner at the 1 Michelin Star Farhaus Hotel and restaurant on the Island of Sylt (as frequented by Euam Mcgregor in ‘The Ghost’). I usually avoid Pinot Noir from outside France but this was a very good proxy for a well made Burgundy – not a 1er cru mind – and only 40 euros a bottle at restaurant prices. Sadly I can’t find anywhere in the UK that can supply this wine. Having said all that I don’t think that equal praise is due to all German or Austrian reds, for my taste they are too clean and over engineered. Italian red wines are far more interesting and better value in general.

    • I have to say that perhaps the wine was a bit young. The ’01 was showing superbly and I’d wager it against any well made Burgundies. unfortunately, as you said, it’s almost impossible to find those wines in the UK, which is such a shame. I agree that all praise should not be equal but if you are as fortunate as me to have a german wine guide, you’ll find some great, off the beaten path wines -real gems.

      Guess you’ll have to make a trip to Germany. My German friend tells me that he often finds great deals on amazon in Germany so if you have any friends there, it’d be worth it to have them buy the wine for you and then ship to the UK.

      • As far as red wines go, Molitor has yet to let me down – have not tried any ’05 though. Interestingly, in response to Brownbear101, I have a similar reaction, but to Italian red: I find the Germans much more interesting and better value. However, this mostly tells you something about the style of red wine I prefer. I am sure there are many weak and boring reds coming out of Germany, but if you go for good producers such as Knipser, Molitor, Salwey, Heger, Becker, Huber etc. you should find lots to select from. have some Molitor, but no reds right now. Molitor do also ship to the UK directly, but you may find that these days because of lots of excellent press their reds have become quite pricy.

  4. I can’t recall ever trying a German red, I must have done but it couldn’t have been that great if I can’t remember it… Although your description of Molitor’s pinot noir was intriguing, it made me want to try it right now.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie
    p.s. Spatburgunder?! and then one wonders why German wines have such an image problem?!

    • Hi Luiz,

      Thanks for stopping by! You must try quality German reds, they are amazing! I have to see about arranging a tasting with The Winerambler. He always has some great stuff, usually not available here in the UK. We had a fantastic syrah not long ago – sublime!

      And yes, I agree! Those German names are just too difficult for my little brain, spatburgunder, really! 😀

  5. Seems to be a very interesting wine. I compared a German Spaetburgunder with Pinot Noirs from Bourgogne and California. See here.

    • 3 very different wine styles to be sure! I would love to do a comparison but of CA pinot noir with it’s European counterparts but don’t you think it was a bit unfair to have a pinot that was 10 years old vs 3 and 4 year olds? Thanks for stopping by and the your link,interesting read.

  6. my father has a thing for a specific german red – comes in litre bottles, has a marked sweetness and is dirt cheap. I thought it terrible…

    • Doesn’t sound too appetizing. It’s a wonder you ever got into wine! I can tell you though that anything that comes in a litre bottle has to be slightly suspicious!

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