Lam: World is waking up to German Pinot
With three short Burgundy vintages and the subsequent price hikes, savvy consumers are waking up to German Pinot Noir according to chef Martin Lam.
Speaking to the drinks business at the annual Wines of Germany tasting in London this week, Lam said: “As Burgundy has become so expensive, savvy consumers are now looking outside of the region to places like Germany for their Pinot fix.
“Switched on producers are reacting by labelling their Spatburgungers as Pinot Noir to attract an international audience and sell the wines outside of Germany.
“The new generation of consumers are as happy to buy German Pinot Noir as they are those from New Zealand and Chile. The lighter reds from Pfalz should be chilled down but the top drops from Baden should be treated with the same respect as a top Burgundy.”
Lam was speaking after a masterclass at the Wines of Germany tasting where he pared eight different dishes with a selection of German wines.
Among the pairings were smoked eel fillets, Jersey potatoes and horseradish cream with Thörnicher Riesling dry 2014; and grilled quail breast and rose harissa with Weingut am Stein Würzburger Innere Leiste Spätburgunder 2012.
Believing there is no such thing as the perfect food and wine match, Lam said the key was to either harmonise or contrast the flavours found in both.
“You don’t always want the flavours to chime, sometimes its good to play them against each other,” he said.
“The strength of German wine on a contemporary list is its ability to match with so many different cuisines, from Thai to Indian. The floral, delicate flavours are very friendly to spice and heat.
“The wines have great balance, which helps them pair well with food. Even the sweeter styles produce sublime wines, some of which are less alcoholic than cider.
“Germany has a very developed food culture that is practically invisible outside the country. It has 11 three Michelin-starred restaurants, 37 two star and 226 one star restaurants,” he added.
Lam also highlighted that German wine was viewed very differently historically. “In the early 20th century German wine’s reputation was on a par with France and Mosel Rieslings used to be the same price as first growth Bordeaux.
“Then there were two world wars and the likes of Liebfraumilch came onto the market, tarnishing its reputation, but it’s starting to come back,” he said.
“It’s time for German wine to broaden its visibility outside a small group of aficionados. Latching on to Riesling has been good marketing but there is so much more to German wine,” he added.
Formerly chef and owner of Ransome’s Dock in Battersea, Lam now looks after the wine lists Bistro Bruno Loubet and the Grain Store, and works as a food, wine and restaurant consultant.