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The variety of white Burgundy wines in Germany is almost unmanageable. By white Pinot varieties we mean Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Chardonnay, even if the latter two are - presumably natural - crosses with only one Pinot parent. The other is the white Heunisch for both, as with Riesling. They therefore only belong to the family to a limited extent.

HEGER©PETERBENDER

However, although Auxerrois and Chardonnay have the same parents, their wines are very different. Auxerrois is more similar to Pinot Blanc in its nuttiness and is predestined above all for uncomplicated but not undemanding everyday wines. High-class Auxerrois, on the other hand, is rarely found. Whether this is just because it is not often tried or whether the variety is simply somewhat limited in its possibilities is perhaps not yet conclusively clear. There are a few remarkably good wines, but with others, the class claimed on the basis of their price is sometimes just an assertion.

With Chardonnay, it's the other way round. The variety is not suitable for everyday drinking. Unambitious Chardonnay often remains pale. Some German producers also have to ask themselves why they cultivate the variety at all if all they produce from it is a banal, uncharacteristically fruity, sweetish something, just like all other varieties. A certain standard is necessary if you want to make a good wine from Chardonnay. Volume, strength, woody flavour and butteriness, which are often associated with the variety, are not the decisive criteria. Anyone can produce a thick wine with a good portion of woody flavour. On the other hand, only a few exceptional winegrowers in Germany have been able to produce fine, precise and exciting wines with elegance, substance and structure, which only a few varieties can achieve in this form. But more and more of them are realising that crisp acidity, a little volume from lees ageing and conspicuous reduction notes are just as insufficient for first-class Chardonnay as fat, alcohol and wood.

In comparison, Pinot Blanc is not only easy to care for, it also masters the entire spectrum from simple basic wine to top-class wine, it can be light and fresh, polished, elegant and substantial, but also powerful, warm and melting. It rarely, perhaps never, reaches the noblesse of the best Chardonnays, but is much more versatile and more accessible at all quality levels.

HEGER©PETERBENDER

But no other variety is as popular in Germany as Pinot Gris, even if some Riesling freaks hiccup at the thought. But the disdain is inappropriate. Yes, there is a lot of banal, soft, sweet, simple Pinot Gris, but there is also more than enough Riesling in this style - just sweet and sour instead of soft. Pinot Gris also masters the entire spectrum from light to powerful in all quality levels. In order to show off its varietal character, it just usually needs a little more body and volume than Pinot Blanc, for example. The very lean versions from both varieties are therefore almost indistinguishable. However, as the wines become stronger and more sophisticated, Pinot Gris becomes more and more similar in type to Pinot Noir. Even when fermented wwhite Pinot Gris often develops red or even black berry notes as well as the fine mushroom tones that are also familiar from Pinot Noir. If a Pinot Gris takes on colour and tannins through maceration or even a little mash fermentation, everyone will blindly mistake it for a Pinot Noir - or vice versa. It is therefore not surprising that the variety is ideally suited for ageing into an orange wine.

Let's not forget the sparkling wines! Sparkling wine culture has undergone a revolution in Germany in the past year. Although good sparkling wine can be produced from almost any variety, that from Pinot varieties remains the top class. Some German prestige sparkling wines can now compete with any good champagne in their price range, and it often has to be said: at least that. Even in price categories where you can't get any champagne at all, or at best caricatures, you can already find first-class wines in Germany.

We have currently tasted almost 800 German wines and sparkling wines from white Pinot varieties, the best of which we present here. You will find links to all the results and the producers at the end of each list.

White wines Pinot varieties Pinot Blanc

White Pinot varieties Chardonnay