Although Germany is best known for Riesling, the country is home to nearly 140 different grape varieties. It might come as a surprise, though, that three Pinots (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc) are some of the most widely planted and renowned in Germany. The country is the third-largest grower of Pinot Noir (a.k.a. Spätburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) wines and is the top producer of Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) in the world. If you think you know Pinot from Burgundy in France or Pinot Grigio in Italy, prepare to have your eyes opened.
Germany’s viticultural history with Pinot Noir is long and storied. Wine grapes were first cultivated in ancient Roman times, and later the Frankish emperor Charlemagne supported the spread and regulation of viticulture throughout the area around the 9th century. Over the course of the next millennium, the three Pinot varieties were brought to Germany and became incredibly important to German viticulture, especially in the country’s southernmost wine region, Baden. Nestled between the verdant Black Forest and the Rhine River, Baden shares many of the same growing conditions as nearby Alsace, yet produces wine with its own distinct flavors.
This trifecta of German Pinots presents the opportunity to taste these grapes in a new light. Here’s the 411 on the grapes, the regions to know, and the flavors to look for:
This article is sponsored by Wines of Germany.