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The Fat above the Belt

On speaking with Philippe Blanck, co-owner/producer of one of the great Domaines of Alsace (Domaine Paul Blanck), the conundrum which is Pinot Gris (PG), was finally resolved. For years I had tended to avoid PG, never sure that I really liked the hedonistic, gingery, musky, oily examples one can find from Alsace, this grape’s spiritual home. The problem is what to do with all of that fat, that extra timber; that PG, lumbering rather than lithe, lugs around in its wake.

Wherever one lives in the world, we have all encountered people who suit a little extra padding and look gaunt, even unwell if they decide to diet. The opposite is also true. On returning to Europe this Summer, I managed to add 10lbs in 10 weeks (I’m still not sure how) and for me Jabba the Hut chic just doesn’t cut it. PG experiences the same problem. Winemakers who know what they are doing (or who have exceptional terroir) seem able to leave exactly the right amount of alcohol, residual sugar and vitally acidity in the wine. This means that like Bob Hoskins (or an Ewok) these wines are comfortable within their own skin (or fur), still fat but definitely all that.

So how to find those Pinot Gris’ that sport this wonderful torso? This is not easy and as with the wines of Burgundy (where it is all about the producer), you will need to kiss a few frogs before you meet the chubby beauty of your dreams. Below are a couple of examples from producers that can produce mesmeric PG, full of musky charm but also blessed with vitality and a saltiness that encourages you to have an extra glass, just don’t expect these wines to be bone dry.

Domaine Paul Blanck, ‘Patergarten’ 2010, 13.5%, Organic but not certified
Grape:
Pinot Gris
Wine-making: 6-9 months on the lees in large old oak casks
Note: Exuberant, spicy, salty and with a nose of lemon oil and faded flowers. Medium dry that makes this an exotic partner for…well, all things exotic. Delicious.
Price: Not currently available in Taiwan
Score: 17.5/20
Available from: N/A in Taiwan

Rolly Gassmann, Rotleibel de Rorshwihr, 2008, 14%, Biodynamic but not certified
Grape:
Pinot Gris
Wine-making: No new oak
Note: Perfect Pinot Gris nose full of musk, gingerbread and allspice. Full bodied, medium sweet but with wonderful vitality that means for all the mouth-coating richness of the wine it never feels heavy or clunky. Very persistent.
Price: Not currently available in Taiwan
Score: 18/20
Available from:

Albert Mann, Cuvee Albert, 2011, 14%, Biodynamic but not certified
Grape:
Pinot Gris
Wine-making: No new oak
Note: The driest of these three wines. Off-dry with quince, musk and smoke dominating the nose. Again like all these wines there is richness but an accompanying verve.
Price: Not currently available in Taiwan
Score: 16/20
Available from: N/A in Taiwan

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