Tuesday, December 13, 2011

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Saering, Schlumberger

Take a skillful producer, one of the most reliable years in memory, the worlds' greatest variety, a good vineyard and you can't go wrong. Although Saering does not have the punch of its' neighbors Kessler and Spiegel, the accessible style makes this wine a real charmer.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Saering from Schlumberger in Geubwiller is medium yellow. It has a typical and attractive grape aroma of rubber, lemon peel and fried apple pie. The taste is medium-bodied with a slightly agressive acidity, smooth and attractive fruit and apples in the aftertaste. Price: €18.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Spiegel, Dirler-Cadé

In a sense it is a tragedy that most Alsace wines from 2008 will be comsumed way to early.This vintage gave wines with high levels of noble acidity - tartric acid - as well as excellent aromatic complexity and moderate sugar levels. There is only one advice to give - stock up!

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Spiegel from Dirler-Cadé in Bergholtz is medium golden yellow. The aroma is huge with mano, honey, pineapple, apple sauce and a whiff of rubber. The taste is like an iron fist, loaded with layers of focused fruit and sandy structure of acidity. No perception of sugar whatsoever. Those who have patience will be richly rewarded. Price: €18.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2008 Riesling Steinacker, Louis Sipp

It is easy to make the false assumption that a terroir in Alsace need to have an ancient history to produce good wines. However, only few lieux-dits formed after the last glaciation have a strong reputation. These are Herrenweg (notable farmed by Zind-Humbrecht), Clos des Capucins (the vineyard surrounding domaine Weinbach) and Steinacker (of Ribeauvillé). The wines from these soils offer may not be the most complex, but are full of pure pleasure.

2008 Riesling Steinacker from Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé is medium golden yellow. It has a already a surprisingly developed, rich aroma with petrol, honey, oranges and yellow apples. The taste is medium-bodied with plenty of fruit, a fresh and clean acidity and a certain astringency of grapefruit peel in the finish. A charmer with many qualities. Price: €10.

Friday, October 14, 2011

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg, Bruno Sorg

Year after year, François Sorg, son of Bruno, puts out a range of pure, complex, lovely wines that are great illustrations of their terroir. The top-range Rieslings are made from Grand Cru Florimont in Ingersheim and Grand Cru Pfersigberg in Eguisheim. While the former defines purity and elegance, the latter defines complexity and minerality. However, they share the two most important features of any wine of quality - personality and balance.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg from Bruno Sorg in Eguisheim offers complex, superb and deep aromas of grapefruit, rubber, coffee, ripe exotic fruits and - more importantly - the soils of Eguisheim just after rain. The taste has a trace of bitterness, loads of mature fruit and mouthwatering acidity, but most of all the structure and minerality are first class. A Riesling just like I want it. Price: €11.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2008 Pinot Blanc Saint-André, Rémy Gresser

Along with Val d'Agly in Roussillon,  Alsace has the most complex geology in the whole of France and thus in the world. The youngest soils are formed by sand, gravel and stone were deposited from running meltwater that formed deep river beds by the end of the last glaciation 10 000 years ago. Apart from the sheer granite, the oldest soils consist of shale that is approximately 450 million years old! And no other soil type gives such an amazing combination of ripeness, texture, freshness, elegance and finesse that shale!

2008 Pinot Blanc Saint-André from Rémy Gresser in Andlau has an amazingly complex nose, with orange, bay leaves, anise, smoke and ripe butter-pear. The taste is medium bodied, silky and elegant with soothing fruit that is in perfect harmony with a racy, good acidity that is not the least aggressive. Price: € 7.

Monday, September 19, 2011

2007 Pinot Gris, Agathe Bursin

Les Divine d'Alsace is an association of female winemakers in Alsace. Besides Agathe Bursin, Melanie Pfister (DahlenHeim), Dominique Schoenheitz (Wihr-au-Val), Veronique Muré (Rouffach), Marie Zusslin (Orschwihr) and Sylvie Spielmann (Bergheim) and many others are among the members. Maybe it's my imagination, but I have never tasted a heavy, sticky or sloppy wine from one of them. Least of all from Agatha Bursin, who with almost pedantic care makes small masterpieces from all grape varieties.

2007 Pinot Gris from Agatha Bursin in Westhalten has scents of almond, clementine, ripe but not dried apricots, revieling grape material that is perfectly healthy. The taste is medium bodied, with zesty acidity and a long finish packed with clean, ripe fruit. A very well made wine with a long life ahead of it. Price: € 9www.alsace-wine.net/p/bursin.shtml

Sunday, September 4, 2011

2009 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Furstentum, Albert Mann

Furstentum is a heterogeneous Grand Cru located  high above the village Kientzheim due west of Colmar. Although the vineyard is located in due south, Furstentum has an ideal microclimate. Here,  the two families who constitute the firm Albert Mann, Maurice and Jacky Barthelme with wives, make biodynamic Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer of remarkable class and quality. Furthermore, all products, from the popular "Edelzwicker" Senteurs des Vignes to the Grand Cru wines from Pfersigberg, Hengst, Schlossberg, Steingrubler and Furstentum are crafted with incredible skill and typical of their terroir.

2009 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Furstentum from Albert Mann in Wettolsheim has a golden, brilliant color. The aroma is wonderfully fresh with apricot, smoke and toffee. The taste is rich and complex with a velvety elegance and very good structure, whereas the fresh acid easily carries the sweetness and adds to the eternal aftertaste. Price: € 20 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2008 Pinot Noir Barrique, Clément Lissner

There are many wine lovers who turn away from "modern" alcohol-fueled, overly extracted wines that go directly from the youthful austerity to over-the-hill. There is a new ideal emerging of elegance and complexity where the terroir is allowed to shine through. It is on this segment that Pinot Noir from Alsace has a, increasingly promising, future.

2008 Pinot Noir from Clément Lissner in Wolxheim has a bright cherry red color. The aroma is smooth with vanilla, tar, black cherry, chocolate and licorice.
The taste is medium bodied, silky and elegant with ripe fruit that has wonderful fresh acidity, a distinctive minerality and a light, elegant finish, with subtle and mature tannins and good length. A harmonious wine that probably developed during 10 years. I wish I had more bottles. € 9.

Friday, August 5, 2011

2005 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Spiegel, Dirler-Cadé

Organic wines is on  march across France, especially in Alsace. Those who work organically, without using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, can be certified in accordance with AB, Agriculture Biologique, by Ecocert. Those who also works biodynamically may be certified as Demeter or Biodyvin. Dirler-Cadé makes superb wines from the Grands Crus Spiegel, Saering, Kessler and Kitterlé and is certified in accordance with AB and Biodyvin.

2005 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Spiegel from Dirler-Cadé in Bergholtz has a complex aroma of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, white raisins, red apples and ripe stone fruits. The taste is just over medium bodied with a caressing sweetness that is perfectly  balanced by the ample acidity, and a superb length with complex fruit intermingled with a refreshing minerality. Price: €20.

Friday, July 29, 2011

2008 Pinot Gris Tradition, Hugel

The family business Hugel making enormous efforts for the benefit of Alsace. The importance simply can not be over-rated. Etienne Hugel, who personalizes the Hugel spirit world-wide, markets Alsace wines worldwide, especially in Asia. The quality of all of Hugels' wines is high and increasingly better. The product line "Tradition" is made from grapes from their vineyards and are always fine wines with character and depth. The price is also very reasonable in relation to the high quality.

2008 Pinot Gris Tradition from Hugel in Riquewihr offers a fresh, smokey aroma with ripe apricot, almonds and melons. Relatively dry, supple taste with a very fine mid-palate and absolutely clean finish. A superb effort with a perfect definition. The 2008 vintage, 1/3 of the wine went through malo-lactic. Price: €12.60

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2005 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Spiegel, Dirler-Cadé

Alsace wines of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer need 5-7 years of storage before they enter the maturation phase, which lasts at least 20 years, and often up to 50 years. When white wines from New World, and sadly, even many expensive Burgundy from the 1990s and later, fall into pieces even "simple" Alsace wines just keep getting better with age, especially if they come from glorious producers such as Dirler-Cadé.

2005 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Spiegel from Dirler-Cadé in Bergholtz is reddish yellow, with a complex aroma of orange, vanilla, ginger and maturation tones of leather. The taste is homogeneous, fresh and spicy with a refreshing acidity and a sweetness that begins to mellow and never takes over. The wine has almost no bitterness and is therefore perfect for a not-too-mature Munster Gerome. Price: € 15.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg, Jean-Marc & Frédéric Bernhard

Almost all the Grands Crus of Alsace are oriented to the south-east or due south. Warmest of all is the Grand Cru Mambourg, which rises  like a ski slope over Sigolsheim. Here the snow melts first, and the wines are most often rich, almost thick with a slightly burned and smoky character. Only the most skilled producers are able to master the power of Mambourg and bring out the finess and the minerality that the terroir offers.

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg by Jean-Marc and Frédéric Bernhard in Katzenthal is deep yellow. The aroma is extremely complex with plum, elderberry, dried fruits, flint, smoke, and a distinct toasty element as in a mature champagne. The taste is sumptuous and fruity with a hedonistic sweetness which is supported by wonderful acidity and a sandy minerality, supplemented by a slight bitterness in the finish. A bargain! Price: € 13.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Eichberg, Paul Ginglinger

Eguisheim is one of the, quite rightly, most visited wine villages of Alsace. With over 1/3 of its viticultural area on Grand Cru territory, and virtually all of the rest area on the slopes - Les Coteaux - Eguisheim offers an abundance of charming wine, full of substance and with great minerality. Among the very top domaines we have Paul Ginglinger which since 2000 has been run by one of the region's most respected young winemakers, Michel Ginglinger.

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Eichberg by Paul Ginglinger in Eguisheim is deep golden in color. After having been given som air, it exhibits explosive aromas of clementines, pineapple, sweet apricot, acacia honey and wet stones. The flavor is full bodied and intense with excellent structure and spine, while the long finish has a wonderful minerality and is perfectly balanced. I love it! Price: € 15.

2007 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Frankstein, Beck-Hartweg

Grand Cru Frankstein is of eight Grands Crus which lie on granite, the rock that the Vosges mountain range is made up of. Granite is hard and resistant to weathering, typically with thin, sandy soils that provide fast heating during the day, rapid cooling at night and that are well drained. Here, a skilled grower can choose to either create voluptuous, easy-going wines with character of fruit salad, or firm and crystalline wines in a more restrained style, without hints of botrytis. Florian Beck-Hartweg has, with great skill and dedication, chosen the latter course.

2007 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Frankstein by Florian Beck Hartweg in Dambach-la-Ville is medium yellow. The scent is fresh and includes ripe stone-fruit, smoke and cardamom. The taste is medium bodied with great structure and backbone as well as an integrated sweetness (17 grams/litre) that is balanced by ripe and racy acids. A wine made ​​according to Agriculture biologique with a long life ahead of it. Price: € 10.60

Friday, May 13, 2011

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Jean-Marc Bernhard

Once, long ago, I thought Wineck-Schlossberg was a second-tier vinyard which at best gave crisp, fresh, but one-dimensional wines from its hard granite. Fish wines, in short. But Frédérick Bernhard has used his his wand to prove how wrong that assumption was. For each vintage his wines gain more and more of the substance, complexity and real terroir character.

2007 Riesling Grand Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg by Jean-Marc Bernhard in Katzenthal is yellow with a green stick. The nose is initially closed, but after an hour, wonderful aromas of apple, melon, pineapple and chalk burst out of the glass. The taste is medium bodied with excellent focus, high, vibrant acids and a complex and dense palate with grapefrukt in the long finish. Darn good. Price: € 12.

Monday, April 25, 2011

2001 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg, Louis Sipp

One can argue that none of the Alsace grape varieties, including Riesling, gain as much on ageing as Gewurztraminer. Young and "Great" Gewurztraminer is often dominated by pronounced, almost pungent aromas of roses, bananas, and spices and the taste may be dominated by a sugary sweetness. But, over time, the aromas gain complexity and become integrated and interwoven, while the sugar in the taste give way for an elegant minerality and acidity, without losing its' charming fruitiness.

2001 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg by Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé has a deep yellow color. The scent is multi-dimensional with grapefruit, mint, cardamom, licorice, honey, yellow apples and strawberries (and much more). The taste is fruity but firm and elegant with a silky sweetness in the finish, which includes a fresh acidity and a minerality bordering to saltiness. To drink now, and over 20 more years. Price: € 19.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2009 Riesling Andlau, Marc Kreydenweiss

Marc Kreydenweiss, one of the pioneers of organic farming, is a name that is mentioned with great respect. He has land on Andlaus three, brilliant Grands Crus, but may be best known for a less prestigious wine-growing vineyard: Clos Rebberg. After a few years where the wines lost zest due to malo-lactic fermentation, he is now back on top!

2009 Riesling Andlau by Marc Kreydenweiss comes from land adjacent to Grand Cru Wiebelsberg. It has a dark, dense yellow color and an open, fresh scent of anise, herbs, grapefruit and a bit of toast. The taste is medium bodied, fruity and broad-shouldered with apples and grapefruit, nice acidity and a clean, long and grapy taste with a fine structure and balance. A lovely bottle for the table. Price: € 10

Friday, March 25, 2011

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Brand, Zind-Humbrecht

The central, original part of the Grand Cru Brand where Zind-Humbrecht owns land lies in an amphitheater that is oriented due south. The unusually easily weathered granite nourishes the vines and creates an even temperature throughout the day. Therefore, the acids in a Brand are always soft and elegant, never aggressive, while the nose offers ripe fruits and flowers. A Brand can be drunk young but ages splendidly.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Brand from Zind-Humbrecht in Turckheim is brilliant golden yellow. The scent is bright and extrovert and clean as a mountain lake with well-defined notes of honey, candied lemon, lilac, almond and a barely perceptible hint of petroleum. The taste has amazing volume of caressing and fresh fruit, as well as a wonderfully pure acidity which leads to a long finish with fine grip. A miracle of precision!

2008 Riesling Vignoble d'E, André Ostertag

Alsace build his greatness on the pure, natural wines that highlight the grape variety and terroir. Wine complexity is normally based on low yields, a long growing season and careful vinification with élevage sur lie. But gradually,  the use of oak increases. It is primarily Pinot Gris and Auxerrois which can carry  the structure and the flavours that the oak carries with it. Andre Ostertag is famous for bringing up all kinds of wine in oak, but especially for the extremely high quality that characterises all his wines.

2008 Riesling Vignoble d'E from André Ostertag in Epfig is medium yellow with clear green tints. The aroma is forward, more nutty than fruity but young and fresh, with clear hints of toast, gooseberry, lemon meringue, hazelnut and toffee. The taste is medium bodied, very dry, with ripe acids and considerable length. Price: € 15

2007 Pinot Gris Trois Châteaux, Kuentz-Bas

Kuentz-Bas is a renowned firm that until a decade ago was managed by two cousins. With great terroirs on the Grands Crus Eichberg and Pfersigberg they created well balanced and cellar-worthy wines in a dry and versatile style. Kuentz-Bas was a name which brought respect! But then came an anxious time. The owner duo split in disagreement over almost everything, the quality plunged. In 2004 the firm was taken over by J. B. Adam in Ammerschwihr which has introduced Trois Châteaux as organic product line.

2007 Pinot Gris Trois Châteaux from Kuentz-Bas in Husseren-les-Châteaux are beautifully golden. The scent is powerful, with clear hints of fresh mushrooms, honey, smoke and apple pie. The taste is fruity with a rich mid-palate, fresh acidity and superb length. Kuentz-Bas is back in business! Price: €15.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1971 Riesling Réserve Exceptionnell, Louis Sipp

It is, of course, a generalization to say that Alsace wines are the worlds' most age-worthy wines. Indeed, there are German Rieslings, Sauternes, Champagnes and Chenin Blanc from the Loire that easily improve for 50 years or more. But the uniqueness of Alsace is that quite "simple" - and affordable -  wines can have an almost eternal life, provided that the yields are kept low and the acidity is in place.

1971 Riesling Réserve Exceptionnell by Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé origins from lieu-dit Steinacker. The color is brilliant and golden.
On the nose, it is compact, with wet wool, lots of citrus, chocolate, nuts and lots of other komponenenter. The taste is absolutely vital, focused and completely dry with stunning acids that highlights layers of fresh fruit and a long, long finish. Incredibly good! Price: € 11 (current vintage).

Friday, January 14, 2011

1998 Riesling Clos Ste Hune, Trimbach

Sometimes the term "Wine of the Week" feels very inadequate. The wine of the year? The wine of a life-time? In any event, it is a precious gift to have the opportunity to drink one of the world's best wines. A wine for which the intellect is not enough, a wine full of emotions.

1998 Riesling Clos Ste Hune from Trimbach in Ribeauvillé is brilliant golden. Elegant aromas of almonds, petroleum and botrytis. Delicate taste with perfect balance, a velvety texture, and  hints arrack. Quite astonishing acids that are unique to Clos Ste Hune. Unusually bold and potent vintage. Superb! € 180.