Frank John - Kalkstein 2016

We drink a Pinot Noir Kalkstein from Frank John in the Palatinate from 2016.

Before another thematic focus is set over the turn of the year, we insert a bottle of red wine from the Palatinate for this third Advent today. Frank John took over the Hirschhorner Hof with his family in 2002 and has been producing wines there according to biodynamic principles from the very beginning. Before that, he was employed as a winery manager in Deidesheim at the Reichsrat von Buhl winery and is also a sought-after consultant throughout Europe on organic and biodynamic viticulture. The own assortment is quite reduced to Pinot Noir and Riesling in still and sparkling. With the 2020 vintage, a cuvée of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc has also been added to the range. The grapes are all harvested by hand and fermented spontaneously. The vines for the Kalkstein (german for limestone) Pinot Noir stand, as the name suggests, on soils with a high proportion of limestone. After fermentation and an additional malolactic fermentation, the Pinot Noir matures for up to two years in 225 and 500 liter wooden barrels. It is then bottled without filtering and with little sulfur added.

The wine smells gently spicy and of red fruit. There’s cherry and some pepper. It’s all quiet rather than loud and you have to take a little time. When you do, there’s cardamom, leather and a bit of forest wood that emerge. On the tongue, the Pinot starts with blood orange and cherry. The tannin is velvety and fine and lingers on the tongue forever. The texture is really nice overall. And then when you crank up the oxygenation by slurping, it all develops an unexpected amount of grip and pull. This is off to a really good start.

And in exactly this direction, the development continues overnight. This is smooth yet intense on the nose and tongue. This smells of red berries, cherry and some chocolate. For me, the forest floor could be even more intense, but then that’s kind of my fault. If I had just waited a few more years, I guarantee this would have taken care of itself. Whereas I think the wine is so much fun at this stage anyway that it doesn’t matter. Overnight, what had to be slurped up on the first evening is then also permanently in the wine. There is more grip and texture on the tongue, more pull. There’s acidity first, then structure, then more acidity, and then it glides away so smoothly velvety full of cherry and a little wood to the back. Although 2016 was not necessarily yesterday now, the wine shows no age at all. And even the not-so-slim 13.5% is so perfectly integrated that it’s not noticeable at all. I quite like 2016 anyway and the wine here is no exception. This is so soft, elegant and flattering and still has draw and depth. Really nice.

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