I think it was the former US President Bill Clinton who used the phrase ‘Keep it simple, stupid’. Those who design most traditional German wine labels should take note! Take the example below:
It has the producer’s name, the vintage, the grape variety, the region, village and vineyard in which the grapes were grown and even an indication of how ripe the grapes were at harvest. This is typical of German wine labels and makes them among the most informative in the world. But that – and the common use of the difficult-to-read antique font – also puts off many wine lovers who don’t want – or understand – all the detail. “Just give me a clear idea what the wine is going to taste like”!
So, I was pleasantly surprised recently to find a German wine with one of the barest labels I’ve seen:
Just the producer’s name, the grape variety (Grauburgunder is the German name for Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris) and the vintage. Anyone interested in the region (Rheinhessen) or village (Nierstein) could check the back label where you also find, far more importantly, that the wine is dry (trocken) and has, unusually for a German white, 14% alcohol. In some wines, this level of alcohol can taste ‘hot’ or dominate the flavour but not here; it brings a lovely richness in the mouth – closer in style to a good Alsace Pinot Gris rather than a light and quaffable Pinot Grigio. The wine is quite savoury with a delightful saline character that makes it really food-friendly – a noble fish in a creamy sauce comes to mind.
From the label to the taste and style, this is about as far away from normal expectations of a German wine as it could be, but it’s really delicious. And a bargain, too: Louis Guntrum’s Grauburgunder is just £11.50 from the Wine Society.