You might wonder why Germans need other white grape varieties other than Riesling: well, wonder no more! A stunning, soft, round, peachy and perfectly balanced wine that is excellent with food. This is slightly less angular than most Rieslings when drinking on its own and is genuinely nothing at all like most of its namesake Pinot Grigio in Italy.
Loaded with white peach, pear and apple flavours, this has notes of ginger and apricot on a clear, clean finish. Slightly rounder in the palate than other dry Germans, it is still as dry as a bone, and is light enough to disappear very quickly.
This is my favourite non-Riesling German white.
It is elegant and charming and really, really enjoyable with its mouth-coating texture and clean as a whistle finish. This is possible (almost unavoidable) because Pinot Gris (which is Grauburgunder in German) is a more thickly-skinned grape than most, which means that more phenolics (the bits that give texture and colour, amongst other things) get into the wine. Unless you try to strip them out, which can happen in some Italian regions where they just want lighter fresher styles.
To me though, that really is to miss the point: slightly fuller, fleshy but balanced wines are so rare these days when consumers often look for wines to be quick refreshing alcohol delivery mechanisms.
The skill required to make really good broader-style wines is not insignificant and is better suited to some regions more than others. In Germany, it's ideal - there is enough warm sunshine to ripen the juicy skins and enough coolness throughout the growing cycle to retain freshness and acidity.
Delicious with or without food, this is an excellent pairing for pork above all else, but will also add wonderful dimensions to seafood, shellfish and poultry. Its secret weapon for pairing? Asian and spicy cuisine because of the richness of the skins that allows the wine to partially cover up the heat from chilis. Magic stuff.
Wagner-Stempel is a really interesting winery. Established in 1845, it was, as is so often the case, a municipal farm doing everything that the land would support. Fortunately, the land included the two spectacular vineyards of Höllberg and Heerkretz, planted with Riesling, that became world-renowned in the early 20th century and the wine business grew to be able to take over as the major part of the family's activity.
Ninth-generation Daniel Wagner took over the running of the winery in the early 1990s and since then has converted to organic vineyard management, with a special focus on Riesling. There's no more generic agriculture in the family these days either, but they haven't forgotten their history - the logo on the label is a pillar from one of the original farm buildings that forms the beautiful winery courtyard; it's a pillar with a ring on it, as is the case for all of the pillars in the barn, which is where, back in the 1840s, all of the cattle were tied. That's the sort of connection to the land that they have in the winery and it's very much the way we like it in the Allotment.
Their location is something of a discussion point. The winery is based in the very far west of the large German wine region of Rheinhessen. If you mention high-quality wine-making in Germany, it is not very likely that you'll use Rheinhessen in the same sentence, which is a shame.
After all, these guys and our friends in Geil, make really elegant, interesting and high-quality wines... but they are the exception. Wagner-Stempel are such an exception that when discussing them with a German wine specialist, I was told that in all fairness, Wagner-Stempel were really to be considered from the Nahe region.
Blimey, I thought, that's a bit tough... But it's closer to the truth than I'd realised. Yes, there is sunny south-facing vineyard area that is typical in the generous Rheinhessen, but there is much more of the volcanic hills, rocky soils and porphyry rock for which the Nahe is so famous, and these are the facets of most of the Wagner-Stempel sites (Heerkretz and Höllberg in particular). So, they put Rheinhessen on the label because it's the truth; but it's Wagner-Stempel's Rheinhessen, which, particularly, is one of the finest versions you can get.
Grape(s): Pinot Gris
Style: Vibrant, Vegan Friendly, Round, Organic, Mineral, Medium, Fruity, Fresh, Electric, Crisp, Complex, Bright
Best food matches: Sushi, Squid, Spicy, Seafood, Scallops, Sausages, Salads, Poultry, Pork