When I’m alone, I don’t drink alcohol with dinner. However, if I cook a nice meal for guests, it’s always nice to enjoy it with some good wine. In Germany, this is not difficult to find as it’s in the middle of Europe with its thousands of wine regions. One of the smallest, and most northern, wine regions in Europe is right here at my doorstep on the Sächsische Weinstraße.
For our pesto dinner, Sarah and I went to the wine shop in the Kunsthof Passagen in Dresden. We were helped by a very friendly woman, who has visited the local wineries from which her wine comes from. She started by offering us a wine from Baden, but we had just come from that area, and we wanted to try something Sächsisch. She knew we were eating lamb, so she suggested a dry white wine and pointed us in the direction of the Frédéric Fourré Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris).
I love Grauburgunder, so I was sold on that. However, the woman continued to explain to us how small this vintner is, and that it is too expensive for these small vintners to get a certain accreditation from the state. Furthermore, in the process of testing, these vintners would lose a significant portion of their yield. Instead, they have formed an organization of their own, the Weinbauverband Sachsen. Fourré, like many of the other regional vintners, just started rebuilding his vines after the wall came down in 1989, so his land and yield are very small. You all probably know by now that I love supporting the small, local guy – and when it’s something I really like in general all the better!
Due to their small size, it is very difficult for Saxon wineries to compete against the massive wineries from Baden-Württemberg. Thus they have developed a specialty niche, and the prices of their wines show this. While a good Baden-Württemberg wine* can usually be bought under ten Euros, Saxon wines range anywhere from ten to twenty. Our Fourré cost around sixteen. This may seem inexpensive to American eyes (purists might say a decent bottle is cheap when it’s around twenty dollars) but from a discounted European perspective, it’s a hefty ticket.
But it’s worth it. Even Nathan, who usually doesn’t drink, enjoyed sharing this bottle with us. It was delicious next to the lamb: a fruity yet dry, rounded taste which brought out the flavors of the pesto and lamb, yet helped reduce the sweetness of the dates. We had no problems drinking this with our dinner, and it tasted just as good after dinner by itself (or, with a piece of parmesan cheese). I’ve had similar experiences with other wines in this region, most notably the wines, especially the Bacchus, from Schloss Wackerbarth.
To find Saxon wines, try online or in your local wine shop. If they don’t have it, ask if they know about it. I don’t know if it is exported internationally, but it should be!
*Some wines in Baden-Württemberg were produced en-masse in recent years and very cheaply sold to discount grocery stores. This means I can buy a drinkable bottle of wine for one to two Euros, and a quite good wine for three or four, but it also means that Baden-Württemberg’s reputation has unfortunately gone downhill, even though many wineries still produce excellent wines.
Frédéric Fourré can be found on Bennostraße 41, 01445 Radebeul, Tel. 0351-8011345, Fax 0351-8011345, email: fourre [dot] fred [at] t-online [dot] de. Tours of the wine region are also available if you contact the Dresden, Radebeul, or Meissen tourist information offices.