By Christopher Matthews
I’m always looking for quality, inexpensive wines…with some character (which is the tricky part).
And, truthfully, I have found quite a few such bargains at Sipperley’s Grog Shop, a somewhat disorganized, but bustling shop in the center of Red Hook Village (Dutchess County). My most recent find there is probably not front-of-mind for most — Pinot Gris from Germany’s Pfalz region. But at $11.00, the 2012 Pinot Gris from Villa Wolf, a line of value-priced varietal wines owned by Ernst Loosen (of Mosel Riesling fame), is worth seeking out.
Pinot Gris, a.k.a. Pinot Grigio (Grauburgunder in German), is an “it” grape on the international scene, with a big following stateside. In fact, it’s the most imported varietal white wine into the US, although much of it characterless swill from Italy. (The grape can do so much better!) In Germany, the pink-skinned Pinot Gris is a traditional grape that’s experiencing a renaissance across the country. Two approaches dominate: as an easy, fruity and dry aperitif wine, or as a richer, spicy, full-bodied yet dry wine that’s been barrel-fermented and/or barrique-aged, well-suited to robust cuisine. Villa Wolf’s is more in the former style, produced in the Pfalz, one of Germany’s warmest and driest wine regions — traditional territory for the Pinot family of grapes — which can almost always deliver adequate ripeness.
Dr. Loosen is certainly on to something. The 2012 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris is a clear pale straw, sporting a fruity, spicy nose with pear and stone fruit notes. Clean, balanced and medium-bodied with clear stone fruit character and mineral on the palate, it finishes bone dry. A versatile food partner (like with hoisin-marinated roast chicken), this is a no-brainer purchase from one of Germany’s most reputable producers.