Rings Spätburgunder 2020 Pfalz

Simone, Steffen and Andy Rings (Andreas Durst)

Calling all red-burgundy fans…

From €14.70, £18.28, 179 Swedish kronor, 249.90 Norwegian kroner, $25, 300 Danish kroner

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This is an absolute steal for anyone who loves elegant, aromatic Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, as it is known in Germany. It was one of a handful of such wines that stood out when I was tasting new releases in London in September.

In just over 20 years, brothers Steffen and Andy Rings (pictured above with export director, and sister, Simone © Andreas Durst) have taken their family business of farming and bulk wine to high-quality bottled wine made from organically certified estate-grown fruit on vineyards such as Saumagen, Steinacker (pictured below) and Weilberg around their base in Freinsheim, just north-east of Kallstadt in the Pfalz.

Kallstadter Steinacker vineyard Pfalz

Steffen, currently responsible for the vineyards, made his first vintage in 2001. Andy joined him in 2007 after finishing his studies and working at Wagner-Stempel in the Rheinhessen. As Steffen explains on their website (lots of great photos), he sold or exchanged vineyards and signed long-term leases to ensure they had access to some of the best vineyards in the area, and by 2015 they had become members of the prestigious producers’ association the VDP. The new winery was opened in 2017.

Rings winery (Ch Ernst)
Rings winery, Freinsheim © Christian Ernst

This lively and beautifully balanced Spätburgunder is what the Germans refer to as a Gutswein, ie an estate wine, which means it is made from fruit harvested from several different vineyards. Simone tells me that the grapes are from younger vines in Erste Lage (premier cru) sites on limestone soils, such as Steinacker, as well as from older vines in non-classified sites. The vines benefit from horse dung as a fertiliser and a range of cover crops – buckwheat, radish and clover – to increase biodiversity and attract beneficial insects and other animals.

The winemaking is uncomplicated and transparent, thus showing off the quality of the hand-harvested fruit, which is sorted for a second time in the winery before spontaneous fermentation (using the yeast that is present on the grapes and in the winery) in tank and spending 12 months in used French oak barrels. There’s additional freshness from 10% whole bunches in this vintage. Theres no fining or filtration.

The oak is extremely subtle, which is why this relatively light-bodied wine reveals so much lively dark-red fruit but its not just about the fruit. This young wine is already surprisingly complex and persistent, with a delicious and refreshing fragrance. The tannins have been smoothed by the oak but still provide the framework for a harmonious wine with the potential to age for up to ten years. (Until 2018 the wine was sealed with a screwcap but they switched to Diam when they saw that the Gutswein, not just the single-vineyard wines, had good ageing potential and would benefit from this type of closure.) However, I’d suggest enjoying it in youth to appreciate the purity of all those lovely fruit flavours.

Rings Spätburgunder bottle

If your budget is stretched when it comes to red burgundy or Pinot Noir from Oregon or Central Otago, for example, this is the place to come. In the UK the wine is available from Howard Ripley (duty paid or in bond, by the bottle or case of 6). The Rings US importer is Down to Earth Wines (online or from their retail store Liquid Culture in Wilmington) and Rings are also just starting to work with The German Wine Collection (contact info@thegwc.com for availability as the Rings Spätburgunder 2020 will be arriving in their warehouse any day now) and Vineyard Road.

You’ll find more tasting notes on Rings’ consistently excellent Spätburgunders and Rieslings at all levels, including older vintages, in our tasting notes database.