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Germany’s Pinot Noir ‘godfather’ Bernhard Huber dies

Wine producer Bernhard Huber, best known as the German godfather of Pinot Noir, has died aged 55.

Imaged credit: Panos Kakaviatos, May 2014

Huber (pictured), from Germany‘s Baden region, lost his battle against cancer late last week.

In 1987, he and wife, Barbel Huber, began estate bottling after taking control of family vines in Malterdingen from his father, who had sold grapes to the local cooperative.

Over the years, they purchased more vineyards leading to the current 26 hectares under vine, with 65% Pinot Noir, which is known as Spatburgunder in Germany.

Taking Burgundy as a model, Huber had purchased 10-15 Pinot Noir clones from Jean Luc Pascal in Puligny and planted them over various years, adding them to some 15 German clones his father had planted.

He limited yields to increase concentration, carefully incorporated new oak to age some wines and improved vineyard precision. Since 2004, he started ‘Reserve’ wines bottled from individual vineyards for example.

From the smooth and deep Alte Reben Spatburgunder – made from 25- to 60-year old vines – to the sheer violet and lead pencil like elegance of his top single vineyard Reserve Wildenstein, Huber’s reds came to be recognised as among Germany’s best.

Huber was known for his passion. Just one month before his death, walking along the steep limestone and clay vineyards of the Wildenstein, he enthusiastically explained how records dating back to 1285 indicate Pinot Noir plantings were named ‘Malterdinge’ after the village where his vines are located.

His surviving wife, son and daughter and extended family said on the wine estate’s website: ‘What you gave in your life, every thank you is too small.’

On Monday 16 June, Bernhard Huber is to be buried following a ceremony at the Malterdingen church.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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