A Pinot Blanc from Germany is John Ducker’s wine of the month for March 2016. His food match is trout cooked with smoked ham – a traditional Black Forest recipe.
My wine choice for March offers some really fresh and delicious drinking with a spring in its step, and shows off another face of one of the world’s most diverse families of grapes.
Last month’s choice was a Pinot Noir from Oregon – this month I’ve been attracted to another relative within the Pinot family, Pinot Blanc. It is actually quite difficult to keep a precise track of this highly mutable grouping of grapes, so many variants occurring with so many different taste characteristics depending on where they are grown and how they are vinified. Wine writers can sometimes be a little dismissive of Pinot Blanc as a kind of understudy to Chardonnay or as a grape variety only performing well with strictly limited yields, though most agree that whatever clonal gear-shifts the grape may muster it can often perform with distinction in Alsace, particularly in that region’s softly sparkling crémants.
There’s distinction too in this month’s ‘pick’ from a century-old family vineyard in the Rheinhessen in Germany, although the rather prosaic label description ‘Weisser Burgunder’ simply announces the grape’s colour and the erstwhile origins of Pinot Blanc in Burgundy….fortunately the bottle contents prove there’s rather more to it than that.
Winemaker Kristian Dautermann now celebrates a decade as manager of the 13.5 Ha. family property in Ingelheim am Rhein having previously benefitted from winemaking experience across a number of other vineyards, first in his homeland and latterly in New Zealand.
His other wines aside, Weisser Burgunder 2014 has instant appeal from start to finish, pointing up the fact that that there is some very careful winemaking here. The beautifully grassy nose shows floral, even apple-blossom hints, and the wine’s expression on the palate is almost ‘spring-loaded’ with a balance, definition and tautness about it. The wine is additionally labeled ‘trocken’ (dry) – and although the mid-palate is certainly on the dry side there is a hint of real ripeness too, particularly in the wine’s finish. This may well be a cooler face of the ‘useful but not exciting’ Pinot Blanc (as Jancis Robinson puts it). Damning with faint praise is all very well, but there is plenty of sensual excitement here in this particular glass with a really fresh, lightly-textured wine bursting with attractive nuances of flavour, added to which its ‘usefulness’ is unquestioned: this crowd-pleasing Pinot Blanc from the Rhine valley is as much a perfect accompaniment to food as a wine simply to sip on the terrace under spring-like or summer skies….when they eventually come!
Unusually for Rheinhessen wines the traditional German ‘flute’ bottle shape is dispensed with here – there’s a shapely nod towards Burgundy instead.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN Germany (Rheinhessen)
NAME OF WINE Weisser Burgunder 2014
STYLE Fragrant, lightly spiced dry white
PRODUCER Weingut K&K Dautermann,
Ingelheim am Rhein
RETAILER Lea & Sandeman Ltd
PRICE £12.75 (or £11.75 by the case)
Why not try it with this traditional German recipe featuring both trout and cured raw ham:
FORELLE mit SCHWARTZWALDER ROHSCHINKEN
4 Brown trout, cleaned
2 shallots, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
60g diced raw smoked ham or prosciutto
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp fine chopped curly parsley
salt . pepper
Trim the fish tidily, cutting off the fins and trimming the tails to a deep ‘V’ shape (if desired) – then wash the fish and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
Season the fish well with salt and pepper and then coat with the flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and sauté them for about 4 minutes on each side when they should have become a golden brown. Remove them from the pan and keep them warm.
Now add the shallot to the pan and sauté briefly until translucent and soft. Add the ham and the garlic, and cook together for about a minute.
Finally add the vinegar and the parsley (watch out for spluttering from the pan), and then pour this still-foaming mixture over the fish.
Small steamed potatoes like ‘la Ratte’ would be a good accompaniment to this dish.