Gerhard Stodden can boast a winemaking lineage that dates back to 1578 and he himself has been making wine since 1973. It was his grandfather Alois who began to make and bottle spätburgunder (the German name for pinot noir) in 1900. Since 2001 Gerhard's son Alexander has played an active role in the business, ensuring that it remains a family affair. The estate consists of 6.5 hectares, 88% of which is spätburgunder with a little riesling and frühburgunder (an early ripening mutation of spätburgunder/pinot noir) making up the rest. A number of the vines are more than 80 years old and ungrafted and the average vine age is 35 years.
Part of the Stodden patrimony is a parcel of vines in the exceptional Recher Herrenberg, a steeply sloping south-facing vineyard of weathered slate and ungrafted spätburgunder. It is here that the oldest vines grow and the fruit from these makes the finest Jean Stodden reds.
It was Gerhard who introduced such quality enhancing measures as green harvesting, despite his mother's characterisation of the practice as 'a sin', and higher density planting to force the vine roots to delve deeper for nutrients. Low yields are the result, usually only 25 hl/ha from the Recher Herrenberg. Gerhard also took a slightly different approach in the winery to his forbears, adopting cold maceration techniques for the extraction of flavour and colour, and a slightly more oxidative winemaking technique to soften astringency. He also practices saignée, or bleeding, of juice off the must to further increase colour and the structure of the resultant wine. Barrel ageing ensues, either in 1,000 litre Fuders or barriques depending on the quality designation of the wine.
The outcome is fine spätburgunders with purity of fruit and freshness but also with the structure and balance to age well.