Friday, 18 March 2016

The best of Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Bianco as the Italian called it, is often the light bodied, refreshing inoffensive house wine with a faint hint of citrus and apple served in many restaurants that is often drunk without a second thought. True this may be, there are indeed some eye popping Pinot Blancs that could grab one’s attention, and I had the pleasure to have tasted one of these recently.

The wine in question was Weingut Stigler 2012 Weissburgunder Trocken, Ihringen Winklerberg ''GG'',  Weissburgunder being Pinot Blanc in German. Because of the neutral varietal character, the wine was understated at first sip although I could feel the depth in it, and it was not as appealing as the 2012 Grauburgunder Kabinett Trocken (Pinot Gris) that was served alongside. However, the wine shone and revealed its beauty when paired with food. The sweetness of the pork dumpling and taro pastry brought out the stone fruits aromas, which in return, enhanced the flavour in the dim sum. This was followed by the classic roasted suckling pig and assorted meat, which I thought might overpower the wine. But quite opposite, not only did the intensity of the wine stood up to the flavoursome meat, it also cut through the fat and brought a lightness to it. This magic combination between wine and food would arouse interest in curious consumers, encouraging them to explore more pairing.

According to Regina and Andreas Stigler, the fourth generation of the family, the grapes for this wine were harvested from the oldest Weissburgunder ‘Grand Cru’ vineyard plot where
the vines were planted in 1985. With Baden being the sunniest wine region in Germany, the grapes ripen to exceptional ripeness resulting in a concentrated wine. Partially fermented in lightly toasted oak barrel added further complexity and roundness to the wine. I have to say this is one of the best Pinot Blanc I ever tasted.

Baden is the home of Burgunders in Germany because of its warm climate. Apart from the Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder, We also tried two of the Stigler’s Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The 2011 Pinot Noir “Max” Spätlese Trocken was an easy-drinking fruity wine made by the fifth generation Maximillian (hence the name Max on other label), and the multi-layered 2009 Spätburgunder Backöfele “GG”, Ihringer Winklerberg. The wines kind of reflected the characters of the winemakers - Max being energetic and vibrant, while the latter being deep and structured.

Andreas also makes a Riesling Spätlese, Ihringen Winklerberg ''EL'' which was not in the plan. In one difficult year, the Riesling didn’t quite ferment to complete dryness with some residual sugar left. The wine still had to be sold and to the Stiglers’ surprise, it was exactly what a restaurateur was looking for — a slightly sweet wine to match with food. Needless to say, a new style of wine was born. We had the 2012 vintage which was elegant and refreshing, laden with apricot and melon. I can imagine it would be fantastic with Vietnamese and curry flavoured dishes.

Weingut Stigler is available from Schmidt Vinothek


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