As someone who pays attention food and wine pairing, I am realizing my choices are no longer based on matching the intensity of the wine to the intensity of the food alone. Once I have decided on the type of wine, the determining factor now is that the wine needs to be from a place I am planning to visit. Whenever this might be, albeit the sooner the better.
A destination that’s on top of my future travel list (which to be honest is starting to get out of control) is the beautiful little wine town of Gimmeldingen.
Located along the famous Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Street) in the Pfalz wine region, the town’s claim to fame is the annual almond festival. Actually, the whole Pfalz area is a white and pink wonderland during March/April when the local almond trees are in bloom. But thanks to a particular large number of almond trees in and around the little town of Gimmeldingen, it is THE destination to visit during the local almond blossom season.
The almond festival is timed to coincide with peak almond blossom each year, thus the final dates are always decided at fairly short notice. That said, it usually takes place sometime during mid-end March.
The festival out of the way, attention will turn back to the region’s main business: winemaking.
Of the around 130 small wine towns distributed across the Pfalz, Gimmeldingen is particularly known for its historic high quality Meerspinne (sea spider) vineyard. After a requalification of the area, the vineyard was divided into several smaller ones, of which one is the now equally famous Mandelgarten (almond garden).
There’s no surprise the small town is home to a number of excellent, award-winning wineries. Most of them are family-led and look back to a long history.
Weingut A. Chrismann is one of them and a visit to their tasting room should be part of any trip to the area. Meanwhile, I have chosen their Gimmeldingen Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) to go with my homemade beetroot ravioli. Which are definitely a story of their own and a star on the table thanks to their reddish-pink colour.
About Weingut A. Christmann
The impressive coat of arms outside the winery might get you confused whether you are looking at a spider or possibly a ladybug sitting inside the wreath of vine leaves. Meanwhile, it does not let any doubt about the long history of Weingut A. Christmann. Though at first the family only bought the vineyards they already cultivated as tenants in 1798 (the official date of the winery’s beginnings on their labels) and the winery got its current name much later still, at A. Christmann winery the family history in winemaking started in the very area back in 1575.
Today the winery is part of Germany’s prestigious VDP association, and winemaking is fully organic, with high attention to biodynamic cultivation in the vineyards. In the winery, grapes are moved by gravity only.
With around 70% of vineyards planted with Riesling, it’s clear where the winery’s attention lies. Yet, recently their interest is increasingly turning to Pinot Noir as well which makes for around 20% of their vineyards. The rest is a mixture of Pinot Blanc and a few other white varieties.
Tasting Notes: A. Christian Weissburgunder Gimmeldingen
Classified as VDP Ortswein – the second highest out of the four VDP classifications – this Pinot Blanc is harvested in the old vineyards in Gimmeldingen, from vines that due to their age grow smaller but more flavourful grapes.
Grapes are hand harvested at the ideal degree of ripeness to limit fruit acid to a moderate level.
In the glass, a light yellow with pale green highlights.
On the nose, aromas of pears, papaya, passion fruit and dried pineapples and hints of fiery nuances.
On the palate, complex, flavourful, and long-lasting, showing a subtle minerality of the limestone soil.
It’s a perfect weekday wine and pairs perfectly with antipasti, white meat, crustaceans, vegetarian dishes as well as Asian dishes and sushi.
I have paired the Weissburgunder Gimmeldingen with my homemade beetroot ravioli, which turned out absolutely perfect.
Recipe: Beetroot Ravioli with Spinach-Ricotta filling and Orange-Walnut Butter
300 g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
150 ml beetroot juice
pinch of salt
250 g ricotta
200 g spinach
1 egg yolk
30 g parmesan, freshly grated plus some more for garnishing
100 g butter
50 g walnuts, chopped
10-12 safe leaves
Mix flour, a pinch of salt, oil and knead into a smooth dough. If it remains to crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for one hour.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan bring abundant salted water to boil. Add spinach and cook until soft, for about 3-4 minutes. Drain in a sieve, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, then set aside to let cool.
Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out the dough into thin sheets.
Wring out the spinach once more, then mix with ricotta, onion, egg yolk and parmesan until well combined and smooth.
If you do not have a ravioli maker or ravioli stamp, cut out small cycles using a glass or similar. Put dollops of the filling (about one teaspoon) to one side of the dough. Cover with the other side and, using a fork, pinch the two sides together.
If you have a ravioli stamp, distribute the dollops along one side of the rectangle, a few cm apart from each other. Then cover with the other side of the rectangle and cut out the ravioli with the stamp.
In a large saucepan, bring abundant salted water to a light boil. Add the ravioli and cook for about 3-4 minutes. The ravioli will float to the top when they are fully cooked.
Transfer ravioli into a fine sieve and let drain for a minute.
In a large skillet, melt the butter until lightly brown. Add walnuts and sage leaves. Add ravioli and toss in the butter for 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to a plate, top with some freshly grated parmesan.