Great Old World White: Heitlinger Pinot Gris

germanyAmericans don’t get Pinot Gris.

They don’t get this European style of wine that’s opulent and austere at the same time, and rich while being bone dry.

There really is no wine  on this side of the Atlantic that’s comparable to Weingut Heitlinger Pinot Gris 2010. About the only Pinot Gris we drink is from Oregon, and the Oregon Pinot Gris I’ve tasted are more fruity and less austere. Not that that’s a bad thing… There’ a very nice Oregon Pinot Gris from Raptor Ridge Winery, which I covered in another post, but it’s a very different in style from the Heitlinger.

Weingut Heitlinger is situated in southern Germany, where vineyards sunk into minerally soils on the south-facing slopes of hillsides gather the maximum radiant heat. The grapes achieve ripeness with a healthy level of acid, which ensures the crisp, snappy finish that German whites are famous for.

When I opened a bottle of the Heitlinger Pinot Gris 2010 and poured my first glass, I was struck by the nose: I smelled ripe pear, apricot and honey that suggested a sweet palate to follow.

But the palate was classically German: while I tasted  rich apricot and honey up front, it quickly dried out to a crisp, minerally finish with lots of snappy acid.

This style of wine is wonderful for food pairing. It works in those tricky situations where nothing else does, like with a salad course. I was trying to find a wine to pair with a Pear and Arugula Salad with Honey Champagne Vinaigrette, and when I tasted the Heitlinger Pinot Gris I said, “This is it!”.  I think it’ll be a great food wine in lots of situations where typical new World wines don’t work.

Try it, and let me know what you think is its perfect food companion. Cheers!

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