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Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2015
It was here in the Pfalz region, back in the 19th century, that Pinot Gris was first identified as an individual variety and vinified separately. The modern-day Villa Wolf Pinot Gris is made in a full-bodied, dry style with fresh, unoaked fruit and a crisp texture.
This wine is an excellent partner for salmon, chicken or pork.
In the latter years of the 20th century, however, the estate languished, lacking a firm hand to guide its wine production. Ernst Loosen, of the Dr. Loosen estate, took over the vineyards in 1996, launching a dramatic turnaround in the estate’s quality and reputation.
Since 2011, the estate has been managed by a talented and dedicated young couple who met while working at Dr. Loosen. Patrick Moellendorf and Sumi Gebauer have brought renewed energy and focus to the viticulture and winemaking at Villa Wolf.
The goal at Villa Wolf is to produce wines that express the pure, authentic terroir of the Pfalz. Made in the classic style of the Pfalz, Villa Wolf Rieslings are drier and more full-bodied than Mosel Rieslings, with fully ripe fruit flavors and a characteristic stoniness in the aroma.
The Pfalz region also has a long tradition with other grape varieties, allowing Ernst and his team to expand their winemaking palate to include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Dornfelder. To preserve the naturally high quality of the vineyards, we employ sustainable viticultural practices and emphasize gentle handling of the fruit through traditional, minimalist winemaking.
As the world’s northernmost fine wine producing region, Germany faces some of the most extreme climatic and topographic challenges in viticulture. But fortunately this country’s star variety, Riesling, is cold-hardy enough to survive freezing winters, and has enough natural acidity to create balance, even in its wines with the highest levels of residual sugar. Riesling responds splendidly to Germany’s variable terroir, allowing the country to build its reputation upon fine wines at all points of the sweet to dry spectrum, many of which can age for decades.
Classified by ripeness at harvest, Riesling can be picked early for dry wines or as late as January following the harvest for lusciously sweet wines. There are six levels in Germany’s ripeness classification, ordered from driest to sweetest: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein (ice wine). While these classifications don’t exactly match the sweetness levels of the finished wines, the Kabinett category will include the drier versions and anything above Auslese will have noticeable—if not noteworthy—sweetness. Eiswein is always remarkably sweet.
Other important white varieties include Müller-Thurgau as well as Grauburguner (Pinot Gris) and Weissburguner (Pinot Blanc). The red, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), grown in warmer pockets of the country is, at its best, elegant and structured enough to rival red Burgundy.
As the fourth largest wine producer in Europe (after France, Italy and Spain), in contrast to its more Mediterranean neighbors, Germany produces about as much as it consumes—and is also the largest importer of wine in the E.U.
Showing a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness, this “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot noir. The grape boasts two versions of its name, as well as two generally distinct styles. In Italy, Pinot grigio achieves most success in the mountainous regions of Trentino and Alto Adige as well as in the neighboring Friuli—all in Italy’s northeast. France's Alsace and Oregon's Willamette Valley produce some of the world's most well-regarded Pinot gris wine. California produces both styles with success.
In the Glass
Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity but full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear and almond. Alsatian styles are aromatic (think rose and honey), richly textured and sometimes relatively higher in alcohol compared to its Italian counterparts. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is often much lighter, charming and fruit driven.
The viscosity of a typical Alsatian Pinot Gris allows it to fit in harmoniously with the region's rich foods like pork, charcuterie and foie gras. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works well as an aperitif wine or with seafood and subtle chicken dishes.
Given the color of its berries and aromatic and characterful potential if cared for as it is allowed to fully ripen, the Pinot grigio variety is actually one that is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made in the red wine method, i.e. with fermentation on its skins. This process leads to a wine with more ephemeral aromas, complexity on the palate and a pleasant, light orange hue.