A. Christmann, Weißburgunder "SC" Pfalz, 2008

A. Christmann, Weißburgunder "SC" Pfalz, 2008

The more Pinot Blanc I drink, the more I appreciate this grape variety. While you will find Pinot Blanc in France and, known as Pinot Bianco, in Italy, Germany is the country that grows more of it than any other: Weißburgunder, as it is known here. The Weißburgunder I am reporting about today was grown in the Pfalz, near the village of Gimmeldingen where the Christmann winery is based. The estate has been owned by the Christmann family for seven generations. It is headed by Steffen Christmann, who also happens to be head of the 'Prädikat Wine Estates', Germany's club of premier estates. In 2004, Christmann changed to organic production and recently even to biodynamic methods. I could not say whether this is the reason for a consistently high quality, but Christmann is certainly doing something right. Now let's have a look at this Pinot Blanc, shall we?

The golden colour of this wine has something greenish to it - and I do not refer to the bottle -, which is quite pretty. The nose is a sophisticated mix of mineral, apple and melon with a light breeze of the sea (think shellfish) and the ever so slightest hint of the blue Nivea hand cream. Seriously, I know that one or two friends are considering to officially declare me insane because Pinot Blanc often reminds me of the blue Nivea hand cream, but I cannot help it. There it is again, hand lotion.

On the tongue the Christmann wine is very well rounded, just a pleasure to drink. Technically, the wine is dry (less than 4g of residual sugar per litre), but it feels very juicy, with more melon and a little peach, pleasantly accompanied by some green vegetable and apple. I still cannot quite make up my mind whether to classify another component of the well balanced flavours as being more on the wooden (don't think heavy oak though, just a very light touch of wood) or nutty side. What I can say though is that the Pinot has just the right level of fine acidity to it. The finish is more on the medium side, velvety with a bit of spice, but again very well balanced and feels just right.

The wine has something of a soft pillow to it, or perhaps a creamy dough- both of a comforting, juicy kind. Its strength is more in being well rounded than very deep, which makes it a really pleasant companion. It also meant that Weißburgunder did not survive for very long after the bottle was opened. But who is to complain?


Submitted by David Strange Wednesday, 03/02/2010

Another report on another interesting German wine of a type I just don't drink that often. Thanks! I'm intrigued by the oak character you mention, sounds quite integrated and well-managed. Another wine to look out for and taste...

The creamy, white-fruit characters of Pinot Blanc, along with its slight spiciness and surprisingly pleasing acid levels, often makes for attractive, if uncomplicated, drinking. Of course, plant it in a favoured vineyard and the wines will get closer to being serious. One of the Alsace winemakers I (somewhat) worship as a living god, Jean Boxler, makes a Pinot Blanc from the Brand Grand Cru (although he cannot put that on his labels). It has real density and class, complexity even. However, even such a pampered example as this is not for ageing; Pinot Blanc delivers its pleasures most effectively in its first few years of life. Good as you clearly think this wine is I really would not risk keeping any; it sounds like a charming wine to just drink and enjoy. There is plenty of space in the pantheon of good times for wines of that type. Oh! Do keep a bottle or two for a sunny day; Pinot Blanc is just the kind of refreshing fruity wine that cries out to be drank when it is warm and summery.

Thanks again for the detailed and informative note.


Submitted by torsten Thursday, 04/02/2010

In reply to by David Strange

Thanks for you comment, David. The wine merchant I bought it from says the ideal time to drink it would be 2010-2014. I would not want to speculate whether it would still be in ideal condition in 2014, but I am sure it should still be a pleasure to drink for a couple of years. Having said that, it seems perfectly drinkable right now, so why wait - unless one wanted to wait for springtime or summer, of course, as you suggest!

Unfortunately, I do not know what type of barrels they used for maturing the wine. While the Pinot has a certain nutty-wooden flavour to it, it was most certainly not barrique - it is really is more of a hint of nut. Which suits me just fine as it enhances the refreshing character of the wine.

Thanks for mentioning Boxler, I will make a mental note!

Submitted by Sabine Wednesday, 03/02/2010

Something greenish, you said. And you did not refer to the bottle.
However, I do: When I look at the picture I can see a reflection of some Torsten in it.

Submitted by torsten Thursday, 04/02/2010

In reply to by Sabine

Eagle-eye! A friend tells me it is the latest thing on eBay to try and capture your own reflection in whatever you photograph...

Submitted by Sabine Thursday, 04/02/2010

In reply to by torsten

I love that. I already suggested to Julian that the Wine Rambler should try to bring in some hidden messages there, like in early netherlandish painting (the Arnolfini portrait by Van Eyck). Geisteswissenschaftler are into semantics, aren't they?