Aside from the over-representation of the New World in UK supermarkets, one other thing bugs me: Pinot Grigio.
I get why Pinot Grigio is popular: it’s usually rather cheap and most people have heard of it. In Essence though, Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris as we should probably call it) is actually a rather special varietal.
It is most probably a mutant emergence of Pinot Noir which would explain certain aspects of the aromas that emerge in finished wines and its appearance: Pinot Gris isn’t really all that white – its appearance varies according to production area but the majority of grapes are browny-blue in colour rather than the whitey-green you usually see with white grapes. Pinot Grigio Blush is a(n awful) way to drink the wine – that pink colour comes from the grape skin (or by adding a touch of Pinot Noir as some wineries do - cheats).
The varietal is so poorly understood though. Most just assume that it is only used to create bland, mass-appeal, cheap Italian white wine. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Pinot Gris is a fabulous varietal that appeals on so many levels, you just need to look further than Italy and the copycats in the huge New-World operations to see the true potential of the grape.
Pinot Gris originated, like all of the other Pinot varietals, in Burgundy – (in German the varietal is called Grauburgunder – literally “Grey Burgundy”). It spread to Alsace and Switzerland and this spreading showed no signs of slowing down. By the 19th Century, it made it big time in Germany: the soils and climates of the South-West fitted perfectly to the varietal and it is cultivated today on a large scale - particularly in Baden.
In fact, German Grauburgunder has very little to do with the Pinot Grigio of Northern Italy at all – it’s far fuller in flavour and, if done probably with a touch of residual sugar in the way of a Kabinett, it offers both mellow but rewarding drinking. And there’s more: because Pinot Gris isn’t seen as a particularly noble varietal: wines are cheap. They might indeed be hard to find outside of Germany but Baden Pinot Gris offers some of the best value for money in the world of white wine: dry, flavourful wines with huge appeal and great drinkability.
Here are nine wines you won't want to miss:
Getting hold of these wines in the UK
Actually, a fair few of these wines are available in the UK. The AchKarren wine is probably only available through the winery - get in touch with them for information. The Heger and Becker wines are available through The Wine Barn - click here for their contact information. The Schneider wines are imported by German Wine Agencies - click here for contact information. The Klumpp wines are sold in the UK by Gourmondo although I can imagine hefty delivery charges because the wines are sent from Germany - click here for information. Winedirect offers the Dreissigacker wines in the UK - click here for more information. Some Salwey wines are available through Tanners - click here for more. If you'd like help getting hold of these wines in your country, simply contact me and I'll do my best to locate them for you.