Weingut Friedrich Becker
For many years now, the Becker estate located in Schweigen, very far south of the Pfalz on the border of Alsace, has been one of the top Pinot Noir producers in Germany. The best Becker Pinot Noirs compare favorably with the best Burgundy has to offer.
In 1973 when Fritz Sr. took over the estate from his father, he stopped selling grapes to the local co-op and started bottling and selling his own wines. He was also one of the first that independently, but in parallel with Dr. Heger, Fürst and Meyer-Näkel, started using barriques for his Pinots. In the beginning he was very frustrated trying to successfully in his words “transferring the gift of nature into fine wine”, as his colleagues in France had been doing for many years.
In 2005 Fritz Jr. took over the winemaking at the estate and his father continued to oversee the outside vineyard work. In 2007, the Beckers started to work with lower must weights more in the range from 92-98 Öchsle rather than previously with 100 Öchsle or more. They learned that physiologically ripe fruit needs acid more than additional sugar.
Almost 70% of their vineyards are located in Alsace. The fruit for their Grosses Gewächs Pinot Noirs comes from two great sites: the Kammerberg, a steep single vineyard near Wissembourg was recovered by Fritz Sr. in 1966. The old vines with mostly German clones and some French grow on deep marl lime soils that produce powerful but also refined, mineral driven Pinot Noirs (it is all about the dirt here!); the other Grand Cru is the St. Paul cultivated in the 14th century by the Cistercians of Wissembourg. The site had since become overgrown but the Beckers uprooted trees and bushes in early 2000 and planted a mix of Pinot clones from Dijon and the German Marienfelder clone. The first vintage was harvested in 2004 and even then the Pinots were very fruit driven (the Dijon clones) but with lots of finesse and refinement.
St. Paul Pinots are released two years and the Kammerberg three years after the vintage. The Beckers also produce a Riesling Grosses Gewächs from the Sonnenberg with “poor” limestone soils that brings a surprisingly light and elegant wine. In addition a series of very good Pinot Blancs (a lot of limestone here!), a superb Gewürztraminer and an interesting red, “Guillaume” (a cuvee of Cabernet, Merlot, Dornfelder and Pinot Meunier).
From the 28 ha the Beckers produce over 12,000 cases annually. Plantings are 60% Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, 22% Riesling, and the remaining 18% includes Silvaner, Gewürztraminer and Muskateller.
Becker Pinot Noir Estate Dry 2013
Fritz Becker's vineyards straddle the French border with about 70% in Alsace and the other 30% on the German side. The soils consist of limestone with a clay/loam mix. The grapes are all de-stemmed and fermented in open tanks. The final blend is aged in large oak casks and 10% smaller barriques, none new.
This is an incredibly drinkable, lovely Pinot with sweet fruit and exceptional minerality. Year after year, Becker's basic Pinot is a a light to medium bodied wine with rich, delicious flavor.
Becker Pinot Blanc Estate Dry 2016
From 100% biodynamically farmed grapes planted on chalky, limestone soils in vineyards that straddle the Franco/German border.
This bright and lively Pinot Blanc weighs in at approximately 13% alcohol, with notes of white flowers, pear, tangerine and wet stones on the nose. It finishes with clean, mineral notes and great complexity.
Becker Pinot Gris Estate Dry 2016
This gorgeous Pinot Gris is a modest 12.5% alcohol yet the silky-satiny texture and fresh, floral aromatics, due to extended skin contact, belie the low alcohol. The grapes, farmed biodynamically. were macerated for 12-18 hours before being pressed off the skins. The resulting wine has a faint blush or pale copper shade due to the pink hue of the Pinot Gris grape. This is a beautiful wine, with hints of strawberry, citrus and lemon peel. Substantial enough to stand up to most game, it's fresh enough to compare to a summer rosé.
Becker Petit Rose 2017
A delicious blend of Pinot Meunier, Portugieser, and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), the 2017 Petit Rose from Fritz Becker is a mere 11.5% alcohol. Grapes are grown on the clay/limestone soils that make Becker's Pinot-based wines so special. The vines are between 15 and 20 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested, gently pressed, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged on the lees for six months before release.
This is a taut and firm style of rosé that combines dark notes of cassis and fruit de bois along with a citrusy backbone. Perhaps the most versatile rosé in our book.