Wine Press: German pinot gris is perfection as food partner

Salwey Pinot Gris wine

Bacon and onion tart may not sound like a culinary dream – but with a glass of superb German pinot gris wine it can feel like luxury.

I fancied some German pinot gris and came across a recommendation to drink it with Zwiebelkuchen, which is a traditional German baked dish of dough covered with onion and bacon,  and egg and creme fraiche.

So I did.

I Googled and found a recipe easily enough and even with making dough from scratch this golden-topped open pie was rustled up in less than 40 minutes.Salwey Pinot Gris wine

With it, a glass of Salwey Pinot Gris 2011 from Baden (£13.20 was perfection.

Now this pinot gris is miles apart from its flavour-thin mass produced pinot grigio cousin from Italy.

If you’re browsing German labels, you’ll see grauburgunder (a dry wine) or ruländer (a sweeter version).

I met Konrad Salwey, the producer of my pinot gris, some months ago and he enthused about his wine which was born out of the volcanic soils in Baden.

It has nectarines, pears and lemons on the nose and an excitable scythe-like acidity tremors and teases your tastebuds long after the last drop of wine has slipped down your throat.

There’s a rich, fulsome spiciness which perfectly complemented the creamy, peppery pie topping.

Konrad told me that his own preference was to have the wine with mushroom risotto or creamy pasta.

I hunted around for a couple of other German pinot gris.

Palataia Pinot Grigio 2012 (Marks & Spencer, £8.49) is from the Pfalz and blends pinot gris with 15% pinot blanc. It is a bright, crisp, mountain-fresh trickle of apples lemons and pears.

Klein Pinot Gris 2012 (,  £11.99 or £8.99 if you’re an investing Angel) lacks the creamy depth of the Salwey but has fresh citrus and stone fruits on the nose and a good, balanced zesty finish with tickly spice.

For more information on German wines you can go to

Also in my glass… medal-winning Trivento Reserve Malbec 2012 (Tesco, £8.99) was a plummy, datey, mouthful with a nose like a walk through a warm, autumn forest. It  came into its own with a hearty chorizo-laced pasta and suits powerful flavours superbly.

Published in the saturday extra magazine November 9, 2013

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express


Painting a picture of the perfect pinot noir wines

Salwey Spatburgunder, pinot noir

IF pinot noir grapes were teenage girls, they would constantly be told off by their mums.

They prefer cool, moderate  conditions but they aren’t really dressed for it to be honest. Their skins are thin, like flimsy little cardies and at the first sign of bad weather  all sorts of temper tantrums can be had, with many  harvests damaged.

Saying that, these grapes are at the heart of some of the world’s best wines. Burgundy reds. German pinot noir – spätburgunder – can be a dream. Germany is the world’s third largest pinot noir grower.

The grapes are also cultivated in the New World.  Molly-coddled  might be a better word, as   winegrowers    take all care to pander to these  grapes’ special needs. Teenage girls indeed.

It’s worth it though.

Because pinot noir grapes are thin-skinned, the tannins in the wines can be low – no gummy  teeth-sticky dryness.

Young pinot noir can be full of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Older wines can have earthy, savoury aromas. A damp, grassy puddle in the autumn.  Herbs and wet wood.

Talk about a wine for all seasons – I enjoyed pinot noir with  Crimbo dinner – but  a couple of nights ago  as the sun set it was a spätburgunder with me in the garden.

The  wine  which inspired this pinot reverie is Salwey Spätburgunder 2010 (£13.49 Salwey Spätburgunder 2010 German pinot noir  made by  Konrad Salwey, who I met  in Baden.

“Most joy and attraction” he   exclaimed. I’d presumed he meant his pinot, not me.  But yes, it is. Spicy cherries, redcurrants, smooth, long-lasting velvety complexity.

Or try Asda’s Extra Special Marlborough  Pinot Noir 2011 (£11) and  from Chile, the 2011 Undurraga T.H. Pinot Noir Leyda is  £15.99 from Majestic, or  two for £12.79 each.
Both displayed vegetal savoury notes on the nose, the New Zealand wine more so, but they were also packed with  summer fruits worthy of a pudding bowl. Chile – lighter acidity than the NZ – but both   lingeringly  fruity juicy.
Also in my glass
With The Ashes coming up I was tempted by Wirra Wirra The 12th Man Chardonnay 2011 (Ocado, £16.99)   and it  bowled this maiden over. Sorry.
Greg Trott’s dream was to play  cricket for Australia. Instead  he produced a beautifully rounded chardonnay with wicket (wicked) undertones of creamy oak. If you’re stumped for a wine to match a powerfully sauced chicken or fish, it could be this. It certainly passed my Test. That’s enough cricket  puns. Over and out.