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Weingut Baum Barth


2020 Grüner Veltliner Gedersdorf

This newly designated “village-wine” takes the place of the previous site called Zehetnerin, which was Erich’s “little” GV; this one has just 11.5% alc. For some reason it was always a riot of fragrance, as this is. I wonder if that blast-o-scent is fleeting, i.e., would it last 2-3 years. We’ll never know as wines like this are made to be drunk up.

Light wine doesn’t have to be slight, and this one isn’t. After that fetching aroma, the palate is ferrous and fir-like, leading to a markedly big whoosh of lentil and mineral dust on the back, surprisingly adamant for such a wee little lad, and that snappiness leads in turn to a static-y finish, as though the wine were suddenly irked. That’s likely the vintage, as it breaks from the template of the many vintages I’ve had.

In my merchant days, I felt in principle that we should lead people from the Liters directly to the mid-range wine coming up next, but often I was captivated by the charm of this flyweight and couldn’t help offering it. To little avail, alas.

2020 Grüner Veltliner Loessterassen

It has the classic 12.5% alc; in ripe years it’s often climbed to 13%, which defeats the wine’s purpose. 

The wines in the middle don’t get no love. Doesn’t matter what they taste like. They are an inexplicable “item.” Cheap wine is an “item” and big important wines with “scores” are an item, and between these is a community of delicious wines that no one seems to know what to do with. Um, drinking them might could be the answer, just sayin.’ Among the many things I love about my successor Gabe Clary, one is that he truly understands this principle, though I doubt his headwinds are less aggressive than mine were.

In any case this is a beautiful vintage, and also an atypical one. That is, it’s atypically green. Loess usually gives what I call the “wet-cereal” flavor, having to do with a weird thing I did as a child, to let my cereal get soggy and then eat it. It also relates to oatmeal, cream of rice, jasmine, sweet hay. A sunny disposition. This guy, though, has points to make. The wine is markedly herbal and redolent of sweet fern, Sencha tea, hyssop and dill, and all of it comes on the heels of a fetching aroma that wants to lead you elsewhere.

Again, I expect this is the ’20 vintage, but we’re atypically assertive here, and the wine contains the strategic national reserve of rotundone.


2020 Grüner Veltliner (Ried) Moosburgerin

CASK SAMPLE. I found both the ’19 and ’18 overripe, but we all know I’m a fusspot for white wines at/above 14% alc. This one smells good in a rugged sort of way.

The palate isn’t working for me. There’s a jalapeño heat, and the pepperiness reminds me of the Penja from Cameroun, which is the one you use if you’re looking for bite. I switched over to the long-stemmed round Spiegelau, which improved matters considerably. Basically you want the glass to express the spherical “sweetness” (in the physiological sense) and suppress the sour elements – and this one does. It may also feel less bellicose after bottling. Right now it’s nightshades and burned lentils and oolong tea in the Wu-Yi type.

Could be one of those wines I’m not destined to come to terms with. It happens.


2020 Grüner Veltliner “Optimis terrae”

CASK SAMPLE. And this has the classic fragrances of serious loess GV, a madness of lentils and fennel seed.

It’s serious to the point of earnestness. Just a description, not a judgment. It would make sense for Erich to have ambitions beyond the nice-guy wines, albeit I like the nice-guy wines. But we have a Statement here. We have a density of body that borders on creamy, yet any furtive sense of lusciousness is firmly sent packing by an adamant dryness. It’s as if there’s something it wants to prove.

But I admire it, greatly; I respect its ambition, and while it’s maybe a little heavy on the tread, it manages even its modest vegetal note. A firm classic, in some way a capital-C classic, asserting density and thickness, if not elegance or charm.

This by the way is the second wine made in full by Erich’s son Maximilan, who did four days on the skins (without oxidation). The name means (in effect) “best earth.”

Tasting Year




I’ll gladly confessed I was shocked how good these were.


Some years ago, I investigated the then-renowned estates in Ingelheim, and came away feeling there was too much under-achieving trading on such “name” value as Ingelheim might once have possessed. Nothing was remotely as fine as these wines are, and it’s all the more amazing since their first vintage was 2020! But who are “they?”


They are a duo of brothers, who appear to love Burgundy and who certainly both love and – crucially – understand Pinot Noir. They inherited this tiny estate from their grandfather, who maintained it when his kids didn’t want to make wine. Grandfather sold all his wines in bulk, but Thomas Baum-Barth and his brother wanted to bottle their own wine, and set about acquiring vineyards. This appears not to have been difficult (which in itself entails a melancholy development wherein too many growers are just hanging it up and selling off their vineyards) and by 2020 they had a full twenty hectares. This in itself isn’t so unusual.


What is unusual is the maturity behind these elegant beauties. They do not taste like the wines of a “new” domain, let alone one run by two gentlemen not yet out of their twenties. It’s easy to imagine all the ways the wines might have been awkward, but these were uniformly suave, graceful and delicious, and it’s easy to see why they’re attracting so much positive attention in the domestic wine guides.


Ingelheim was long-known for its Pinot Noir, dating back to a time when it wasn’t really much good. But these are new times and new growing conditions, and most crucially, an opportunity for rare talent to make itself known. Most of Ingelheim’s vineyards are made up of Muschelkalk (fossil-bearing limestone), but the estate also has sites in neighboring Großwinterheim, where the soil is combined with loess and clay (and the wines seem more sleek and minerally, at least based on a single vintage…). The two Crus are better exposed and one of them has a vein of iron in its soil.


With the 2022 vintage they introduced their first Pinot Blanc and Chardonnnay – the former is seriously masterly – and they appear to make a Riesling, which they tragically neglected to send me. I kvetched, but not too much, having been mollified by the consistent graces of those Spätburgunders.


AS THIS REPORT GOES LIVE, they do not have an American importer. I hope that changes quickly.


AN IMPORTANT NOTE: I tasted all the wines the first time through without viewing their website and also ignoring any background information they sent me. When I tasted them again, I had all that information before me. I will indicate as much in the notes themselves. Context matters, naturally, but for a winery I’m not familiar with, it’s best to approach against a pure white background.


Anything I write based on subsequent tastings will be noted as having been informed by background material gleaned from their website. (With growers I’ve known for many years this distinction isn’t necessary, but here I think it is.)


2022 Spätburgunder


The estate-level wine is encouraging even before I’ve sniffed it. One, they’re using Diam corks, and two, the color is delicious, a moderate garnet that suggests they haven’t made the rookie mistake of over-extracting their Pinot to make it “impressively” dark.


It’s the kind of wine I’d describe as smart. It’s marrowy, with a fine leathery umami, and its fruit is plentiful without being ostentatious. It strongly suggests a mature approach by the vintner(s), because its persuasive moderation is seriously impressive, allied to its density of flavors and its classical profile.


Often this intro category disappoints me, even from good producers, and even from producers whose top wines are superb and inspired. The little “intro” wines have seemed to be pieces of wine that were misaligned, so that there’s too much of something, or a sense of shoddy construction, or a feeling that the wine was forced and pushed into something it didn’t want to be. But here we taste a wine of poise, full of material but not crammed with it; almost serene, and with every right to be.


The texture is refined, even buffed, and the flavors run to damson, rose hips; from the Jancis glass there’s an edge of the artichoke thing some PN can show. The wine is “drinky” but not ingratiating. The “green” note spreads with air, feeling a little brusque given the clement nature that preceded it. Still, this is like an album with a killer first track that makes you think “This oughta be good….”


LATER TASTINGS: Whereas the ’21 estate PN spread out over the days, this one dove down into a less fleshy and more nuanced showing. The coniferous edge grew more pronounced. Honestly, this wine is so impressive in its echelon that I wonder whether it is too good. I don’t know their prices yet, but as a long-time merchant I’d have been delighted (this is excellent!) and dismayed (who’d trade up from something this good?), but meanwhile we have almost anything it would be fair to ask from such a wine. It’s tasty, it’s interesting, it slips down sweetly, and any “statement” it makes, it makes not by shouting, but by singing.


2022 Spätburgunder Ingelheim


The village wine has the same pretty color (like blood, actually) and quite a different set of aromas. It’s chocolate, shoot-smoke and burning leaves – and cask, possibly too much cask? On the palate it’s more performative, but it’s also pretty crazily tasty. It indicates a craftsmanship in service of producing a kind of result, whereas the preceding wine seemed to come into being fully formed. In principle I’d like to object. In practice I can’t. Even if this is a wine that seeks to press certain buttons – and succeeds in doing so – I must confess I find it awfully delicious.


It makes me think of my basic objection to overt oak, and how I square it with my adoration for old-school Rioja. In effect, I don’t. I’m not consistent, it would seem. And yet, there’s a crucial difference between oak that’s plastered onto a wine to give a veneer of (false) complexity – or to charge a higher price – versus oak that is bound so deeply into a wine that their very molecules seem to have melted together. In some ways this wine is less aligned to the Burgundy paradigm and more a cousin to the Viña Ardanza from La Rioja Alta.


As a “judge,” well, it’s too oaky. As a drinker, I’ll make a saffron risotto and cue this bad boy up. If you’re going to do this type of wine, you may as well do it like this. I will drink it with pleasure, and try hard not to disapprove of myself. Viewed apart from the oak question, the wine has length and the proper concentration, which I’d describe as all the “much” you want, but not too much.


LATER TASTINGS AND TOTALLY CONFUSED DRINKING: When I poured some while we cooked some veal rib chops and trumpet mushrooms, the overt wood seemed to have vanished. This happened twice over several evenings. Now I’m “tasting” it again, and while oak hasn’t returned, precisely, it does show a rather clamorous aroma absent from any of the other wines. This time it’s a little brett-y (which doesn’t fret me), and the wine feels like it’s cloaked in something none of the other wines wear. It’s also amazingly joyful to drink, a gobful of mucky-earthy yum that somehow stays free of anything coarse. All of these wines are delicious, but this one’s the most interesting.


2022 Spätburgunder Großwinterheim                                             + 


A different village wine, and natural cork now. This wine smells like limestone. It also, to my delight, does not smell like wood.


On the palate it is seriously impressive, more vertical, more animation, more vividly “conversational” among its components, and markedly sophisticated in its gestalt. In effect it smells like terroir, like “somewhereness,” like something imprinted with freshness and minerality. I couldn’t be more impressed! If you ever get a chance to taste these in a flight, as I am, this wine captures three “metaphorical” principles of description to perfection. One is verticality, the sense that a wine is stretching upward. Another is in the salt-mint-spices vein, and the last is our old pal minerality, which is splendidly blatant here. Considering all of that, “complexity” can’t be far behind – and isn’t.


This is wonderfully expressive wine, with a poise and self-possession that makes you think it came from an old veteran who’d arrived at this delicacy of touch through decades of trial and error. But it didn’t! It comes from two young men who seem to understand something as if by osmosis, something that is actually uncommon. Many wines that chase “intensity” find that it has precluded complexity because its concentration renders it opaque. It takes a deft hand to know exactly how much concentration is compatible with a clear articulation of flavors; in effect to arrive at the point – “The wine is speaking; we don’t have to.”


SECOND TASTING with less drinking in between….the wine has a more diffident attack, as though air has “relaxed” it in some way, but the animation and dialogue are still present, now with a new texture of crushed dust that feels tannic but doesn’t seem to be tannin. (And yes, “crushed dust” is senseless; you had to be there.) I’ll defend my higher regard for this wine, but that’s because I vibrate to the particular impression it makes (tensile, mineral…) whereas other tasters might prefer its fleshier siblings. Takes all kinds. Finally, I’m happy with the parting suggestions of redcurrant and tomato-leaf.


2022 Spätburgunder Ingelheimer Sonnenhang                             ++ 


It’s the equivalent of a VDP estate’s “Sonnenhang GG.” The color is a little paler, and very pretty. The fragrance is a rapture of fruits and flowers. It reminds me of Dautel’s GG Forstberg, in effect Pinot Noir at its most ravishing. It is in the family of ethereality whose pinnacle is Musigny, perhaps.


For all its tenderness of fruit, it is both firmly and deftly constructed, so you have all the time in the world to dive into that fruit and into all the things that support it, and to bask in the freshest of breezes, that seems to blow everything towards you, the entire environment of leaves, herbs, flowering trees, kirsch, and all in a juicy, caressing texture.


It is, if you will, the profundity of the frivolous. You can imagine a deeper pleasure, but not a greater joy. Everything that can laugh is laughing. Your giddy self is invited to join the giddy world, and suddenly every single bird seems like it was sent directly to you so you could be captivated by its gorgeous crazy bird-ness, and every single breeze is the exact perfect temperature. (And when your schnitzels arrive, they are good schnitzels and a lot of them.)


Some wines let you talk with the saints. Others let you chirp with the blackbirds. Maybe there are Pinot Noirs of loftier purpose than this one, but I doubt there are any that stake a deeper claim to delight.


OVER THE DAYS the wine began to brood a little. I didn’t mind. I like interior wines, though I noticed it was less overt in our busy kitchen, and preferred the relative calm of the table, with the meal. What this wine does – what almost all of them do – is to respect the ethereality at the heart of Pinot Noir. I find it literally in-credible, that such a thing is present after just three vintages, but it seems to speak to a deep and mature understanding of this mischievously mystic little variety.


2022 Spätburgunder “Schwarz Pinot Noir”                                   + 


Named for the former winegrower who worked this old vineyard, there’s a little more “metal” in the color now, and a very different aroma.


But what? More spices, more minerality; that much is clear. It’s dusty, the palate is the first to show overt tannin; the wine is in the family of Clos St Denis or even…Bonnes Mares? (Please understand, these are stylistic paradigms, not literal comparisons.) Compared to the Sonnenhang it feels a little earnest. It has a more “adult” affect.  Again, neither better nor worse – just another personality.


The complex savor here is more deeply embedded in umami. It doesn’t show the riot of flowers and fruits. It’s dispersed differently; you infer it as much as taste it, but the inference is tangible and definite. It’s more a matter of mushrooms and things roasting, and tallow. It’s a careful and sober statement of the variety in a gently corrugated texture; more introverted, one might say. You could also say it has a “mass of quiet flavor.” That wouldn’t be inaccurate. 


I like and admire this wine entirely, and yet, because I am horribly childish, I will at some point pour the two single vineyards into one glass, just to see whether their virtues combine into a whole greater than the sum of the parts, or whether their virtues cancel one another out. Look the other way, why don’t you.


SECOND TASTING gives me the cerebral cousin to the more sensual Sonnenhang. It is also more subdued and immature. And more detailed, and more incipient. In time it could be the greater wine. Right now it wants a little quiet around it.


FOR THE RECORD I did do my puerile blending exercise. Sometimes the whole is less than the sum of its parts, but this wine (or “wine”) did what I thought it might do; elevated the virtues of each Cru into a pretty dynamic mélange. Mind you, I would never suggest reducing the utmost specifics of origin in any wine. I was just testing a theory. Successfully!


2022 Frühburgunder “-R-“


This is a mutation of Pinot Noir that ripens earlier. It is not Meunier. Lifting the glass to my schnoz, well, you could have fooled me.


But not for long. The sorghum/nutmeg/cinnamon aromas of Meunier are absent, and in their stead are darker colors and a sort of exaggeration of PN, almost a caricature of its most overt elements. Some New World examples fall prey to this.


Yet on the palate this wine is convincing, if unnervingly direct. Extreme dark chocolate and tobacco is what you smell here, but with a restraint that prevents it from passing over to Cola or marmalade. That said, I’m not surprised that the greater affect of the wine is met with lesser length. That’s as may be; as I’m tasting I don’t know the price, and if it’s enough below the PNs then it can be easily justified. The wine is envelopingly rich and generous. It doesn’t have the sweet “Kandy” spices but it does in fact show the sorghum of Meunier.


What we have, in effect, is a Pinot-type wine for people for whom actual Pinot Noir is sometimes too subtle. It’s earthy and gaudy and quite satisfying in its muddy way. It will cut through the noise. Anyone would like it. I like it! It is just a wee bit emphatic compared with the adroit and nimble wines that came before.


ON REFLECTION: Oh, it’s fun I suppose. I still have to ask whether it’s categorically necessary. I mean, who doesn’t like a wine that reeks of coriander and cardamom? A little further down I call this variety into question based on the ’21 – but this ’22 is more persuasive in its wacked-out way. Put it this way; it tastes like moussaka in a glass, and I mean the whole magilla: the eggplant, the bechamel, the cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom – all of it is here. It is, in the best way, an uncivilized glass of wine.


2021 Spätburgunder

Again the estate-level wine, now with another year of age and from a different kind of vintage.


The aromas are precise and licorice-y, even coniferous, which may correspond to the green edge of the ’22. The wine is very bright, wonderfully so, with even more density than the (excellent) ’22, enlivened by a minty angle and a tangible sense of fir. From the Jancis is “reads” a little dour, showing the stiffness of the vintage, and yet – it remains pleasing and impressive. The wine is so juicy its ferrous nuance is delightfully wry, even piquant.


In its way it’s a more notable achievement than its ’22 sibling. The team were even less experienced, and the vintage even more challenging, yet they’ve made a wine that exceeds expectations and manages to be both delicious, properly concentrated, earthy yet also with those almost garrigue-like top notes. It even waves hello to Blaufränkisch, it’s so peppery.


The finish is juicy, very salty, and a wee bit clipped, which is almost churlish to point out, given how impressive the wine is overall.


SECOND AND THIRD TASTINGS: The wine has fleshed out about as far as it can on its slender frame. They take quite a lot of care with these “estate” wines, even using multiple-use barriques and harvesting exclusively by hand. In the already slender 2021 vintage it makes for quite a dance-y little Pinot Noir, and for a wine that demonstrates, again, that the way a wine tastes is more important than the extent of the taste. This is a PN with high cheekbones, one that excels by melody rather than huge swollen chords of vinosity. It also held its own quite well in our noisy kitchen while dinner was cooking furiously. The aftertaste is like lilacs.


2021 Spätburgunder Ingelheim


It’s the color of a cherry lozenge. The fragrances are more subdued and inferential at first, but what’s discernible is interesting, and is more expressive with air.


Remember, never let the color of a Pinot Noir fool you. There’s admirable intensity here, a similar spice and briskness to the above but with more depth of umami, more earth and dough, and more attack. And the Jancis does oddly compelling things to it; it seems to shove the mid-palate into another room and it makes the high-notes so vivid that they almost sting. It seems to comb through the wine hair by hair, as if to ensure there isn’t a scintilla of nuance you’ll miss – yet it suppresses a third of the wine.


From the (faithful!) Spiegelau, we lose very little of these chromatic overtones but we retain the precise, delicious fruit that makes the wine so drinky. The Jancis shows the wine under a microscope, and while it doesn’t exactly diminish the wine, it loses the point, loses the forest for the trees.


I like the wine, but I have a lot of patience with wines other tasters might deride as “slight.” To be sure, it’s slimmer than the estate wine, but it’s also more refined and lacy. That said, and respecting its virtues, the wine doesn’t surmount its delicacy.


With my SECOND TASTING (and having drunk it in our busy kitchen and at our hungry table) it’s still the daintiest wine in the group, showing what’s meant by “cool-climate reds.” But it also shows, as all of the PNs do, the virtue of a lovely flavor. The wine is lilting; it seems to giggle as you drink it.


2021 Frühburgunder Ingelheim


Back when I lived in Munich, a wild mushroom would arrive at the open-air market in late August. It looked like a porcini but with a maroon cap, and it was called, accordingly, Rotkappe. Its flavor was porcini-plus-earth, and if you didn’t cook them the day you brought them home it became porcini-plus-funk. I liked them because they were so animal, and they’d really add a kick to a sautee of porcini if you added maybe 20% of them. This wine reminds me of them.


In effect, this is the vulgar muddy cousin of the dainty Spätburgunder, but in a vintage as restrained as ’21, I’m loving this wine’s kind of bellowing nature. It isn’t as sober as the PN, but it’s a happy drunk. The tannic grip is welcome. Actually it reminds me of St Laurent in some ways in its adamant physicality – though minus much of the reduction we often see in St-L. I find it easy to accept its ruddy coarseness because of the generosity it delivers alongside. But compared to the assiduous focus of the PN, I admit this wine is comparatively rustic.


SECOND TASTING: This time I ask myself, why this variety? It feels crude standing next to those elegant Spätburgunders. Can that land be used for something else?


2022 Weissburgunder                                                                    ++  

Their first one – remember this is a brand new estate. They did it in 500l Halbstück (and the label doesn’t indicate the age of the cask).


It’s a highly sophisticated Pinot Blanc fragrance, leavened with cask at its best. Cookie-dough, exotic fruits, taco shells, and some elemental varietal aromas in there somewhere….


But everything is seamless, linked by what tastes like a fabulously sweet leesiness, and I find myself thinking This is how to make this kind of wine. It’s like semolina dumplings in a cream sauce, and it also smells like dried chanterelles, saffron, and langoustines. The palate reflects all this, and adds a saltiness and a surmise of limestony crunch.


Beginner’s luck? Who knows! You could make a case for a little less wood and a little more minerality – I’d make that case. But at the same time, this is a fabulously delicious wine to drink and drink and drink. If you imagine an excellent Burgundy grower’s Bourgogne Blanc, you’d be in the ballpark….except that this wine might well be better….


SECOND LOOK, and the wine’s done nothing but improve. It would scream with any lobster-like seafood – monkfish, langoustines, scallops – and it would embrace the “warm” citric flavors, meyer lemons, tangelos, even mango. I am immensely impressed by this beauty. It may be the best wine of its idiom (Pinot Blanc/lees/cask/mineral) I’ve ever tasted. And it accomplishes this with just 12.5% alc. I think you have to go to Styria to find its equal – and you’ll need to look a bit….


2022 Chardonnay


Another maiden voyage. Barrique this time. 13% alc. Plenty of reason to approach warily….


I am admittedly a bit of a pill, and at first this wine seemed speciously plausible after the lovely Weissburgunder. It ticks the boxes for “Chardonnay” without offering either great pleasure or any great originality. But let’s give the devil his due.


The wine has decent length. It has a certain stoniness (alas blanketed by wood), and if you like the smell of toasting bread you’ll like this more than I do.


But I have to say, if Burgundy is their paradigm, and I think that it is, then you come much closer to it with the Weissburgunder than with this Chardonnay, which I’d characterize as “clunky Macon.” I appreciate the wine’s salty intensity though I also think its assertions are overly gaudy. Understand, I’m someone for whom oaky Chardonnay is guilty until proven innocent, and I must also admit that the beauty of the Weissburgunder made it doubly tough to extend much charity to (yet) another woody Chard. I hope this is a forgivable rookie misjudgment on their part.


SECOND LOOK, and I’m feeling a little more charitable. But just a little. Many many years ago I worked with an estate called Merz in Ockenheim, not terribly far from Ingelheim, and I was (honestly) drawn to them because they grew Chardonnay. I got no end of teasing from Armin Diel about my perversity in working with that estate, but they were originals in their way, and utterly lovely people to boot. Today there are plenty of Chardonnays made in Germany; it’s no longer a novelty. Yet I keep asking – why? What are we adding? There are reviewers who are growing more convinced the variety “has a place,” yet I keep asking What else might grow in that place? I say this as someone on record as approving of several Chardonnays (e.g., Dautel’s), not to mention whatever cred I might have by virtue of introducing the first German Chardonnay to the U.S. market all the way back in 1990.


Meanwhile, this wine isn’t bad, it isn’t grossly oaky – and while it’s relatively blatant next to that gleaming Weissburgunder, well, that’s a hard act to follow. Now I think I’ll drink the bottle empty; I like its saltiness and I know what to cook for it.  But I’ll dream about the other wine, and savor every last drip and drop of that bottle.

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