German Pinot Grigio, Heger Oktav 2008

the Rambler in the background....

Yes, you read that right, GERMAN pinot grigio or grauburgunder as they say in German. It seems that the Italians do not have a monopoly on European pinot grigio. The Germans have also gotten into the act, although Heger has been making wine since 1935. The winery was founded by Dr. Max Heger near the town of Ihringen in what is one of the warmest parts of Germany, the Kaiserstulh region, which is dominated by a long extinct volcano. It’s warm enough here to grow cabernet sauvignon and Ihringen supposedly has the highest average temperatures in Germany.

Heger has a reputation for knowing how to work with barrique barrels to age their wines. The wine we tasted, the Heger Oktav 2008 had spent time in large oak barrels which did much to produce a robust yet subtle wine. I was introduced to this wine by who else? The WineRambler. He just loves to spring all these, what we would consider, non-traditonal German wines on The Winesleuth. The Germans however, have been working with various international varietals for many years. It’s only now that I’m discovering all the other types of wines that Germany  has to offer.


Back to the wine, a lovely yellow in colour, this pinot grigio was certainly like no other I had ever tried. Even the more expensive Italian pinot grigio’s were nothing like this one. Toasted oak notes on the  nose with some ripe apple and honey notes following onto the palate. An elegant yet powerful wine, a startling surprise. Orange peel, lanolin and very mouthwatering. This wine had loads of character and a definitive orange/clementine profile with a certain spiciness on the palate that I coudn’t quite put my finger on. Very well balanced with an supply mouthfeel but at the same time a prickling sensation on the gums which just made it all the more interesting to drink. It finished however, not with a bang but more like a thief in the night. One minute it was there and the next it was gone! Nonetheless, I enjoyed this wine immensly and was sad to see the bottle go but we had other fish to fry (or wine to drink, I should say) and we we’re off to the next German wine surprise that the WineRambler had up his sleeve.

I am enjoying these German wine exploratory sessions more and more.


  1. I often forget that varietals such as Grauburgunder are not really known outside of Germany (unless they are labelled as Pinot Grigio/Gris, of course, and come from other countries). Coming across a Grauburgunder I like is not so unusual for me as there are so many good ones in Germany. At the last tasting in Munich, we actually skipped the whole Oktav range at Heger to focus on the great growths because there was so much choice… I have included a few of those in my next wine order, plus another Oktav Pinot Gris/Grigio and also a Pinot Blanc.

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