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Germany Steals the Show for Best Wine: So Say the Sommeliers

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20/06/2024 Germany's Spätburgunder Triumphs at the Sommeliers Choice Awards 2024

While it was a 50-year-old Tawny last year, in 2024 a Spätburgunder has captured the title of Best in Show at one of the world’s top wine competitions. Should we be surprised? 

The annual Sommeliers Choice Awards gathers an all-star sommelier judging panel particularly to give awards to restaurant-friendly wines. Dozens of floor sommeliers, holders of the MS title, and restaurant group wine directors taste the entered wines under strict criteria.

This year’s Best in Show, Grand Wine of the Year, and Grand By-the-Glass Wine is the 2021 Franz Keller vom Löss Pinot Noir by Franz Keller, which is Imported into the US by Delicato Family Wines

The winery and vineyards of Franz Keller can be found at Kaiserstuhl in the Baden region. This is one of Germany’s warmest and sunniest places for viticulture, and Pinot varieties are far better than Riesling. Kaiserstuhl takes pride in growing Burgundy grapes and Pinot varieties in general and they have earned substantial renown, but mostly within Germany. Now, with this win at the SCA, the secret is out.

Source: Weingut Franz Keller

A family estate of about 100 acres, Fritz Keller carefully blends proud local wine-making traditions with modern technology and methods. As Wines of Germany notes: “Grapes are 100% hand-harvested, maintaining the viticultural philosophy set forth by Franz Keller, where the focus is placed on nurturing and conserving the historic vineyards and setting forth an environmentally friendly and gentle, yet effective, approach to winemaking. This is accomplished through practices such as organic fertilization, planting of cover crops, and yield reduction.” The Franz Keller winery is known for elegant, Burgundy-inspired wines such as their Pinot Noir selections, of which 2021 vom Löss stands out.  

Another highlight of this wine is its price point, which makes it perfect for by-the-glass programs. 

One of the SCA judges, Master Sommelier Alexander Powell said: “Wow. As soon as I put my nose in the glass, I thought this is a serious $100+ burgundy. I want a year's supply! Exceptional all around.” The kicker? Power calls it a “truly outstanding wine and value.” Rachel Lowe, Beverage Director at Levy Restaurant Group loved the wine’s leather, smoke, mushroom, and Bing cherry aromas and called it a “solid wine.”   

This win indicates that excellent, Bourgogne-like Pinot Noirs can be found in Germany—a fact that is often overlooked when wine lists are put together. In fact, Spätburgunder grows in each of Germany's 13 quality wine regions. There are about  28,880 acres of it throughout the country. As wine expert Lauren Mowery recently noted, “This positions Germany as the third-largest global producer of Pinot Noir, following France with around 79,070 acres and the United States with 61,750 acres under cultivation.

Header Image Source: Weingut Franz Keller

2025 Sommeliers Choice Awards Submissions Are Open Now. Enter your Wines To Get In Front Of On-Premise Buyers. International and Domestic Wine Submission Period Now Open.