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A copper-colored wine confounds sommeliers


It’s a talented wine that can upend assumptions. We’re talking about a pour, one you might mistake for a rosé, that we’re seeing more often around town. But color is where the similarity ends. These bottles, with deeper aromas, a weightier mouth feel, and velvety texture, are marching to a different drummer. To make them, winemakers take red or black grapes, handle them as if making white wine, and turn out these salmon-hued quaffs.

One is Siegrist Blanc de Noir, made in 2010 by Thomas Siegrist, Siegrist’s daughter Kerstin, and son-in-law Bruno Schimpf, in the German region of southern Pfalz. Blanc de noir, a French expression that translates as “white from black,” is more commonly used to describe Champagne made from deep-hued pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. The Siegrist wine is copper colored — not quite white, but definitely not a red — made with a blend of frühburgunder (pinot madeline) and cabernet sauvignon.

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After the grapes are gently pressed, grape skins are separated from the juice. That juice is then fermented in stainless steel without skins. Yet it’s apparent that even initial contact with skins — full of pigment, flavor, and puckery tannins — lends intriguing weight and a velvety texture to the final product. Red fruit flavors like tart cranberry and a spritz of pink grapefruit make this a rich yet invigorating sip, perfect to pair with roast chicken, game birds, or richly sauced fish.

Damon Goldstein, owner of Truly Fine Wine, Inc., the importer of Siegrist wines, assures us that this style is not just a fashionable flash in the pan. “The Germans have been doing this for quite some time,” he says. “It’s more common to see it there than here.” The Siegrist family offers these bottles as a different expression of black grapes. Historically, the wine has been made from 100 percent pinot noir, but the 2010 harvest did not yield enough fruit to make both blanc de noir and the line of reds. So early-ripening pinot madeline and cabernet sauvignon were pressed into service. The wine confounds sommeliers who taste it blind.

Recently, Goldstein challenged some wine professionals to identify the blanc de noir. “I told people there, a lot of them somms, that I’d give them a bottle if they could guess what this wine was. Not a single person in the room could identify it.”

Most agreed on one thing: They loved it.

Siegrist Blanc de Noir 2010 (around $20), at The Spirited Gourmet, Belmont, 617-489-9463; Boston Wine Exchange, Financial District, 617-422-0100.

Ellen Bhang can be reached at
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