TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Salwey, Henkenberg, Grauburgunder *** GG, 2006

Posted by Torsten 26 Jan 2011

Pinot Gris is a funny thing. If it is called Pinot Grigio it comes from Italy, is meant to be drunk young and suffers from too much cheap plonk on the market. If it has Pinot Gris on the label it is probably from Alsace and may be a substantial wine with the potential to age well. When it is called Grauburgunder it comes from Germany and could fall into any of these categories. The wine you see below comes from a reliable, quality focussed producer and has been matured in oak barrels - so you'd think even when stored in my wardrobe (officially London's most delicious wardrobe) it should be at its prime now. But then there is always a risk, are we looking at a wine that's already faded?

There is nothing faded as far as the colour is concerned. Golden and very rich it is a beauty to look at. It is different with the bouquet though, an understated nose of over-ripe fruit, spicy, oily nut and caramel. These aromas are potentially very powerful, but the Salwey Grauburgunder is a little too reserved and a little too over-ripe at the same time. There is something about the nose that speaks about times of vibrancy and liveliness as a thing of the past.

On the tongue the Pinot Gris starts soft and not very intense at all, but then suddenly and dramatically peaks in a finish that offers more than the whole mouth sensation before did, and then some. While the flavours as such are not very intense, vague peach and sour apple, they still manage to fill your mouth with oily fruit and bitterness. The finish then combines oily nut with spice and bitter.

Interestingly, I had expected at least subtle oak flavours from this wine, but it was either applied very gently or has almost aged-out completely. The Pinot still has an impressive, very intense finish, but has also lost aromas and depth 'in the middle'. Mind you, it is still a decent wine by all means, it just has faded much earlier than I'd have expected from a great growth ('GG') Grauburgunder.

I had been in Germany for,

I had been in Germany for, admittedly, a little bit before I realized that Grauburgunder is the same grape I knew as Pinot Gris from Alsace. So many burgunders! But I soon figured it out, and was happy about that.


Pinot something

There is a lot of confusion about variety names. German Grauburgunder is much closer to Pinot Gris in style, yet in the UK it is often sold as Pinot Grigio. Admittedly, many of these wines are plonk, which in a way brings them closer to the many boring Pinot Grigios available. As long as people remember that German -burgunder wine will be a Pinot I am quite happy. In Germany, on the other hand, I cannot really remember having seen any Grauburgunder labelled as Pinot Gris, but then I rarely buy wine in German shops these days... I love all -burgunders, red or white!