Thursday, December 30, 2010

In very simple terms, the character of a wine of a certain grape variety is determined by
a) the vintage
b) the producer, and
c) the terroir.
With age, a influence of the terroir increases gradually. The vintage character decreases as acids become softer and sugar become integrated with age. If the producer is skilful - as is Beyer - and has kept the yields low and fermented slowly, time will allow the terroir to be come on display.

2002 Riesling Réserve from Léon Beyer in Eguisheim is medium golden. The bouquet is complex with hazelnuts, warm peaches and the typical, earthy hallmark aromas of Eguisheim. The flavour has gained surprising body and fruit, impeachable balance and a fresh and crisp aftertaste. Wonderful!
Pris: € 15.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

008 Riesling Grand Cru Geisberg, Couvent de la Divine Providence

Monastic culture has not only shaped France, it has also been a prerequisite for the country to be able to develop and refine the wine culture in a unique way. But monastic life is not on top of the French youth's priority list, obviously they find a lot of other attractions. As a consequence of the weak recruitment to the orders, for example, Couvent de la Divine Providence in Ribeauvillé has been forced to cease their wine operation, and from 2006, Trimbach has fully responsible for the superb monastic vineyards.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Geisberg from Couvent de la Divine Providence has developed aromas of dried figs, orange marmalade, honey and geranium. On the plate it is medium-bodied, rich, fruity and elegant with nice acidity and a wonderful sense of grapefruit peel in the aftertaste.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2007 Riesling Kronenbourg, Bott-Geyl

Behind some modest vineyard names (lieux-dits) we find, almost invariably, great wines. One of these is Kronenbourg, which is the offshoot east of Grand Cru Schoenenbourg in Riquewihr and Zellenberg. Kronenbourg offers extremely persistent, dry wines from Riesling and Muscat of a more classic cut than the famous neighbor to the west.

2007 Riesling Kronenbourg from Bott-Geyl in Beblenheim has medium yellow color. The aroma is restrained and young with white pears, ripe apples and a low-key spiciness. The taste is very young with layers upon layers of dense fruit, high but ripe acids and monolithic salinitity in the aftertaste. A youthful  wine with lots of potential, that is biodynamically grown and certified according to the Agriculture Biologique. Price: € 10.85.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

2007 Pinot Noir "F", Beck-Hartweg

Alsace Grand Cru wines may (almost) only be produced from the four "noble" grapes. However, many growers have love to have some Pinot Noir, Auxerrois and Sylvaner on their prime land. To make the terroir visable for the customers, many chose to name their wines with a clear reference to the Grand Cru in question. That is why we see Pinot Noir "P" (for Pfersigberg), Auxerrois "H" (for Hengst) or Sylvaner "Z" (for Zinnkoepflé).

2007 Pinot Noir "F" from Beck-Hartweg in Dambach-la-Ville has grown on Grand Cru Frankstein. The color is brilliant and show some sign of maturity. On the nose, the wine offers cinnamon, cassis, raspberries and vanilla. The taste is light, fresh and elegant with very good Pinot fruit and a mature tannic structure. Price: € 10.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2008 Pinot Gris Terrasses Hinterburg, J-M Bernhard

In Katzenthal there are two lieux-dits that are easily confused: Hinterberg which is wedged inside Katzenthal, and Hinterburg which lies along the road from Katzenthal to Turckhiem. Both teroirs are very steep, and also relatively clayey even though they are on the granite (mica), and both are perfectly suited for Pinot Gris. Thanks to the good but not extreme exposure and medium-warm soil the grapes ripen without losing acidity. 

2008 Pinot Gris Terrasses Hinterburg from J-M Bernhard in Katzenthal smells of apricots, smoke and fresh mushrooms. The taste is just over medium bodied with embedded sweetness that is more than balanced by the lively, ripe acidity and a great backbone. Definitely deserves its 15/20 from La Revue du Vin de France. Price: € 8.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2007 Riesling Bouxreben, Ziegler-Mauler

J.J. Ziegler-Mauler is found in Mittelwihr, housed in very modest premises near the square. With only 4.5 hectares and a marketing budget close to zero Ziegler-Mauler belongs to a category of producers that have not yet been discovered by tourists, unlike the French vinmagasinen La Revue du Vin de France and Gault et Millau, who lavishes praise on the company.

2007 Riesling Bouxreben from Ziegler-Mauler in Mittelwihr comes from a lieu-dit near the municipal boundary to Riquewihr. The aroma is intense, between youth and maturity, with hints of roasted nuts, dried fruit and ripe yellow apple. The taste is dry with massive fruit, supported by a good, ripe acidity and a good minerality. A  wine with personality. Price: €8.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2008 Auxerrois, Etienne Simonis

When you are about to taste, or even judge a wine in order to publish your thoughts you undertake a great responsibility. Personally I never convey my first impressions of a wine, I have always tasted the wine at least twice until I write about it. And since no taster get it right every time, I never give negative criticism to any wine or any producer.

2008 Auxerrois from Etienne Simonis in Ammerschwihr has brilliant. medium-deep colour with a tint of grey.  The aroma is extremely fruity with pear. pineapple and toffee. The taste is elegant, and surprises with an almost sandy structure from refined tartric acids balancing the perfectly. A wine justly noted as "Coup de coeur" by La Revue du Vin de France. Price: € 5.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2009 Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg, Kientzler

There are a few producers in Alsace - and perhaps in all of France - which only makes great wines.  Frome these few you will encounter nothing obscure, no ups-and-dows and just a natural vintage variation. However, you will find the personality and character in abundance. One of these magicians are Kientzler, who cultivates 10  ha in Ribeauvillé and Bergheim, with the Grands Crus Geisberg and Osterberg as top names. You can find the discrete domaine along the road to Bergheim, surrounded by vines.

2009 Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg from Kientzler in Ribeauvillé has medium yellow, blazing colour. The nose is a little stiff and restrained at the moment, but rich in minerals. Perfectly crafted  flavour with great structure, nice acidity and rich fruit hidden under layers of youthful fruit. This will become a great wine! Price: € 23.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg, Raymond Renck

Michelangelo claimed it was his job to free the sculpture that is trapped in a piece of marble. The same idea I get whenever I drink a  young, fruit-packed wine that still hides the minerality, complexity and finesse that within seven years will make it a true  vin de terroir. It is easy to talk about the virtues of cellaring (and waiting), but at the same time these wines give a sensuous, undemanding and disarming delight.

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg from Raymond Renck in Beblenheim has a deep greenish-yellow colour. The wine smells of luke warm apple pie, lemon and a little chocolate. The taste is fruit-driven with a complete mid-palate and a fine structure with Schoenenbourgs obvious minerality and grapefruit-like structure. Yummy! Price: € 10.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2002 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim, Gustave Lorentz

Few things in the wine world is so impressive as to develop and maintain a house style. It's a bit like ''Mom's apple pie'', there is really no single secret that makes them so special, but it is the whole .... Top wines from Gustave Lorentz always express a unique style: fragrant, soft and caressing but still form with vibrant acidity and an abundance of ripe fruit. Lorentz wines never wines that smell like gas stations, which proves that the wines are picked perfectly ripe.

2002 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim is straw coloured. The scent is seductive with a thousand kinds of flowers, acacia honey and blood orange. The flavour is full, balanced and smooth as velvet, while the acidity wraps the sweet fruit in the finest silk. A wine to share with someone you really love. Price: € 14.60 (ones upon a time), now € 22.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Riesling Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Meyer-Fonné

With respect to the Grands Crus of Alsace, there is certainly a premier, second and third division. In this hierarchy, no one is making a more rapid climb than Wineck-Schlossberg. This unrivalled development is due to the skill and dedication of (relatively) young producers such as  Meyer-Fonné, Bernhard and Klur, all in Katzenthal. To addition to this group, others such as the likes of Paul Blanck and  J.B. Adam make a very important contribution to the reputation of W-S.

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg from Meyer-Fonné in Katzenthal has superbly clean aromas of almonds, mango, smoke and minerals. The taste is medium-bodied, generous, and succulent with loads of mature fruit in addition to wonderful acidity and structure that leads to an extraordinary finish. My gosh!  Price: € 13,50.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2008 Pinot Gris, René Etienne et Simonis

Over the last few years I have advocated the key principle that if a producer has a bit too slender Riesling, one will love his Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. And vice versa . Etienne Simonis is one exception to this rule, because all his wines have a good structure and body without turning falling into the trap of heaviness, clumsiness or too much residual sweetness.

2008 Pinot Gris from René Etienne et Simonis in Ammerschwihr has developed and rich aromas of chocolate and pistachio. It is powerful and fruity, and offers a dry taste with an almost sandy structure and a good bite of acidity. Fabulous on the table for no money at all. Price: € 5.60.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

1990 Riesling Patergarten, Paul Blanck

In 1985, the cousins Philippe and Frédéric Blanck took over after brothers Marcel Blanck and Bernhard Blanck, sons of Paul Blanck. Thereby, they became part of a tradition starting in 1610 when Austrian Hans Blanck made his first wines in Alsace. Thus, this wine is part of the unrivalled Alsatian tradition of family viticulture, more than ever the basis of the commercial success and the increasingly environmentally oriented commitment that prevails all the way from Thann in the south to Marlenheim in the north.

1990 Riesling Patergarten from Paul Blanck in Kientzheim offers fresh, candied lemons, white flowers, honey and tar (!) on the nose. The taste is silky and supple with superb structure (tartaric acid) and freshness combined with lovely fruit that still, after more than 20 years of cellaring, coats the mouth. This is life! Price (of current vintage): €12.

Monday, August 16, 2010

2008 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sporen, Frédéric Engel

Currently, a new wine legislation is  implemented in France. In Alsace, this means that for every Grand Cru, it will specifically be determined which grapes will be allowed. With respect to Grand Cru Sporen, it will be easy to decide on  Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, more to discuss regarding Riesling while Muscat will not stand a chance. For Schoenenbourg in the same village,  Riesling is the ultimate grape but personally, I'm also hoping for Muscat. What a mess it can be! And unfortunately,  we dare not believe that terroirs such as  Grands Crus Vorbourg, Gloeckelberg, Frankstein and Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé will get right to the Grand Cru Pinot Noir. Or?

2008 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sporen from Frédéric Engel in Riquewihr has a discrete, wonderful scent of roses, cardamom and luke-warm pineapple. The taste is moderately fruity, medium-bodied and supple with some sweetness, a hint of bitterness. It is wonderfully clean and has firm acids that provide  both freshness and structure. The definition of an elegant wine! Price: € 10.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2007 Riesling Ostenberg, Etienne Loew

Riesling is a grape that can present a wide palette of aromas, from green apple and citrus aromas to honey, pineapple and floral aromas. The fragrances  originate from a group of chemicals called terpenes, and there are six such substances which together dominate the scent palette of young Riesling. What we actually experience is the cumulative effect of these substances, not the compounds  individually. In the must, terpenes are highly bound to glycosides but are partially released by fermentation. The higher the pH in the fermentation is, the more terpenes are released, adding to the olfactory structure of the wine. Therefore, the berries' must need to be ripe for the aroma to become rich and complex.

2007 Riesling Ostenberg by Etienne Loew in Westhoffen has a developed and complex aroma of orange blossom, ginger and honey. The flavour is rich, mild and supple with a mature and pleasant acidity that slowly evolves on the palate. A wine from oolitic limestone from the Jurassic period  which is very similar both in terms of geological origin and aromatic character to a Altenberg de Bergheim. Price: € 10.

Monday, August 2, 2010

2008 Pinot Gris Cuvée des Seigneurs, Eblin-Fuchs

Zellenberg is a strangely located village, and it looks like it has landed from above on a hill, surrounded by vineyards. The village itself is very quiet, but 6 producers have their premises in the village, most next to the Route des Vins. Geologically, the village sits on a slob of Bundsandstein about  240 million years old,which 40 million years ago was tilted over end  on top of younger geological strata. Zellenberg have their own high-class terroirs, such as Grand Cru Froehn, a piece of Grand Cru Schoenenbourg and several Lieux-dits, but all producers also have land in Hunawihr, Riquewihr or both.

2008 Pinot Gris Cuvée des Seigneurs from Eblin-Fuchs has golden yellow color with a slight red tone. The scent is fresh and completely without disturbing fungal elements and offers apricot, chocolate and smoke. The taste is just over medium bodied with firm acidity and an excellent backbone that makes the impression  dry and dense. An unusually personal, refreshing and useful Pinot Gris! Price: € 7.25.

Monday, July 26, 2010

2007 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois, Henry Fuchs

Auxerrois is not a grape you search out because of a characteristic aroma but primarily for a) its taste, and b) its usefulness. But although 7% of the Alsace vineyards are planted with this relative to Chardonnay, it may not be sold under its own name in Alsace and it is normally blended with, and sold as, Pinot Blanc. The structure of the taste is similar to a Chardonnay from Macon: relatively fat, moderate acidity and all in all a wine that matches all kinds of food, white meat as well as fish dishes. And many producers will testify that this as what they put on their own table, day after day.

2007 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois from Henry Fuchs in Ribeauvillé has a very floral, fresh and complex aroma of lilacs, peaches, walnuts, flint and Bassets Allsort. The taste has a very good attack, is dry and crisp, yet offers both substance and weight and a very pleasant salinity. A very good wine from a revived domaine! Price: €5.20

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2008 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois, Martin Schaetzel

One of the virtues of Riesling is that it does need to be boosted by oak in any form.  Intstead, the wines made from the worlds' best variety are by nature complex, pure and fruity. Auxerrois, however, is a bit anonymous and had low acidity and picks up som volume from the oak. in addition to  Martin Schaetzel producers such as Stirn, Kubler, Lissner and Beck-Hartweg manage to carefully integrate the structure and the vanilla of the oak into their Auxerrois.

2008 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois from Martin Schaetzel has a golden and dense appearance. The generous nose offers warm apple crumb, crème brulée with a generous dose of vanilla and tropical fruits.  The taste is perfectly balanced and well structured with mango notes, a slight bitterness resembling yellow grapefruit (pamplemousse) and surprising minerality. A great example of how ageing on oak (élevage en barrique) add qualities to the Auxerrois. Price: € 7.60

Saturday, July 10, 2010

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Kastelberg Vielles Vignes, Guy Wach - Domaine des Marronniers

Have you heard of Guy Wach and Domaine des Marronniers? If not, you're in good company, because of all the top producers in Alsace, Guy Wach is the most discrete. Maybe it's because his firm is small and situated in Andlau, the village with three celebrated Grands Crus, including the absolute pinnacle - Grand Cru Kastelberg. Kastelberg consists of shale that is rich in easily dissolved salts. The soil heats up easily, while clay minerals which are interspersed in the shale layers hold a lot of water that prevents the maturation from being blocked in periods of drought. Shale simply make the grapes ripen perfectly every year.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Kastelberg Vielles Vignes is golden yellow and viscous. The aroma is complex and developed with a little botrytis, anise, smoke, honey, ginger, roasted almonds and Christmas spices. The flavour is full bodied with some sweetness, crisp and supple acidity and a very long finish. A wine with rare complexity! Price: € 15.

2007 Edelzwicker Sélection du Gourmet, Emile Herzog

Say "Edelzwicker" and many will frown. But although most Edelzwicker are wines that are offered on 1-liter bottles almost for free, it is wrong to generalise. Because one can make Edelzwicker in many ways and with varying level of ambitions. At worst, it is hard-pressed must from  high yield sites on the  Plaine d'Alsace. But better is, if it is done from surplus, high quality must for which the vat intended lacked space, or - as in this case - if it is deliberately made from co-planted grapes, grown in a well-tended vineyard with a reasonable yield.

2007 Edelzwicker Sélection du Gourmet from Emile Herzog Turckhiem is made from Chasselas, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. The scent is fresh and peppery spicy but also contains green apples, apricot and hazelnut. The taste is clean and fresh with moderate body, youthful fruit and a hint of bitterness (from Gewurztraminer)  in the finish. Lovely on the table! Price: € 5.60.

Friday, June 25, 2010

2009 Pinot Noir Strangenberg, Agathe Bursin

Not only is it a privilige to enjoy a tasting in the minimalistic living room of Agathe Bursin, to try a barrel sample of her extraordinary Pinot Noir is heaven. It is logical that the last couple of years, La Revue du Vin de France has selected her reds as being among the best of Alsace. It grows on Strangenberg, the hill which connects Grand Cru Vorbourg with Grand Cru Zinnkoepfle, where a calcareous bedrock and a protected exposure provide perfect conditions for Pinot Noir.

2009 Pinot Noir Strangenberg from Agathe Bursin in  Westhalten bursts of varietal aromas:  black cherries, burned rubber, blackberries, vegetables and Seville oranges. The taste has great volume and is saturated with fresh and vibrant fruit. A simply stunning barrel sample that will be released in June 2011 after 18 months on oak. Price: € 14.00.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2007 Muscat Reserve, Frey-Sohler

Sadly enough, the vineyards between St Hippolyte in the south and Mittelbergheim in the north do not catch the attention that they deserve. Maybe it is because ikonic wineproducers are missing. Nevertheless, many very good wines are produced here on granitic foothills that give relatively lightweight but well structured wines with a lot of finess, purity and character.

2007 Muscat Reserve from Frey-Sohler in Scherwiller is a 50/50 blend of Muscat Otonell and Muscat d'Alsace. The aroma is developed with pears, fresh grapes, white peppar and peaches. The taste is medium weight (to be a Muscat, that is) but sec, and well balanced with a nice backbone of tartric acid. A solid effort. Price: € 7.00.

Monday, June 7, 2010

2001 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kanzlerberg, Sylvie Spielmann

Old Gewurztraminers do not die, they are just reborn. The young wine is often over the top with roses, red apples, banana and spices and a jammy sweetness on teh palate. But over time, the sweetness  decreases in response to a polymerization reaction. At Grand Cru Kanzlerberg in Bergheim, Sylvie Spielmann shows off her great skill and creates long-lived, superb wines with superior backbone.

2001 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Kanzlerberg has a golden yellow color with green tints despite eight bottled. The aroma is lush and complex with honey, pepper, mint, apricots and millions of other scents. The taste is supple but elegant with a velvety structure and a mild sweetness balanced by fine acidity and a touch of bitterness. Price: € 16.00.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2007 Riesling Steinacker, Xavier Wymann

Located in the geological fracture zone, Ribeauvillé has a great variety of subsoil geologies. These range from the granite of St Ulrich, over sandstone, limestone and marl to the alluvial soils deposited a mere 15 000 years ago. This is were we find Steinacker, a stoney (quite logically), warm vineyard which yields ripe, open and early maturing Rieslings.

2007 Riesling Steinacker from Xavier Wymann has  an aroma of oranges, almonds, banana, licorice and anise. The taste is almost medium full, round, pleasant and honest with a fresh acidity on the finish. A good, no-nonsense drink. Price: € 6.80

Sunday, May 30, 2010

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg, Jean Sipp

A good wine offers pleasure during their entire course of development. While it is true that storage makes the vast majority of wines better, all the basic qualities must  be in place from the very beginning. Jean Sipp makes wines that are supple and inviting even as a young, without razor-sharp acidity or austere elements. Nevertheless, the wines of this hospitable domain develop  great complexity and dignity with time, very typical and true to the terroirs of Ribeauvillé.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg has a generous aroma of bitter orange, mango, star anise, artists' turpentine, pepper, caramel and wet gravel. The taste is smooth, fruity and elegant with lingering acidity acid, notes of refreshing grapefruit and a long, clean aftertaste. Bottled joy!
Price: € 18

Monday, May 24, 2010

2006 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, Domaine Stirn

The renowned Grand Cru Schlossberg, the largest Grand Cru of Alsace, is a sought-after terroir for excellent Riesling and for Gewurztraminer. Above Schlossberg, we have Bois de Kientzheim, a dense forest which forms a terrific habitat for game such as deer and wild boar (fr. sanglier). Many non-survivors among these end up in the kitchen of St Alexis, a charming hunting lodge restaurant above Kayserberg that offers rustic and generous food.

2006 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg from Domaine Stirn in Sigolsheim offers the honeyed, buttery concentration of the vintage in addition to figs, almonds, lemons and yellow apples on the nose. The taste is round and supple with a superb freshness, sufficient backbone, great purity and the minerality of the terroir on the finish. More exotic than the 2006 Grand Cru Brand. Price: €10.90.

Friday, May 21, 2010

2008 Muscat, Maurice Schoech

Almost all dry Muscat from Alsace is consumed very young. In its' childhood, the character of crushed grapes in the aroma is more than obvious, while the taste is light as a feather. Paradoxically, some cellaring makes the fruity aroma somewhat harder, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, while the taste becomes broader and fuller. It is a wonderfully refreshing drink a warm spring evening, with or without the asparagus.

2008 Muscat from the low-key but skillful Maurice Schoech in Ammerschwihr brings red grapefruit, gooseberry and ripe pears on the nose. The flavor is rich with distinguished fruitiness in the middle and long, pronounced but ripe acids in a rather light, bone dry and firm body. Very well done! Price: € 6.00.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

2007 Riesling Langgass, Emile Herzog

In 2009, I was exploring the producers of Turckheim. Among them, they are quite few, I stumbled across Mme Herzog, widow of the late Emile Herzog who worked for INAO for several decades. Today, Mme Herzog farms a mere 1.4 ha of prime vineyards, some of which are located in the garden of her suburban villa! Literally, this is a "garage vinery" and the 5000-7000 are bottled and labeled by hand. The vineyards are worked with horses and Mme Herzog has state-of-the-art knowledge about every phase of the winemaking process.

2007 Riesling Langgass has ginger, apples and orange blossoms on the nose. The taste is so clean, so fresh and so homogeneous. A marvelous wine made by a remarkable woman! Price: € 7.60.

2006 Riesling Grand Cru Brand Vielles Vignes, Domaine Stirn

Fabien Stirn has all it takes to become one of the big names in Alsace: determination, knowledge, skills and a portfolio of grand terroirs. Working land in a handful of villages from Turckheim to Ribeauvillé and the Grands Crus Brand, Schlossberg, Mambourg (not in production yet) and Marckrain, he turns out focused wines with true terroir character. In 2006, he used the advantage of working permeable grantite soils to wait until the skies cleared mid-october to produce wonderful Rieslings with the remarkable richness and no trace of grey rot

2006 Riesling Grand Cru Brand Vielles Vignes offers oranges, honey, coffee and roasted almonds on the nose. The taste is medium bodied, clearly off-dry with superb acidity, some lemon peels and a square, hard and rare minerality. Bravo! Price: € 10.90.

2007 Pinot Gris Herrenweg, Zind-Humbrecht

Olivier Humbrecht is without doubt one of the world's most skilful winemakers, and for me, his ability to combine the natural, fruity character of aromatically perfect grape material with a high complexity is unique. To some extent, this is about balancing the reductive and oxidative processes from "débourbage" until the wine is poured into the wine glass, an art Olivier masters to perfection.

2007 Pinot Gris Herrenweg has a yellow straw color, a great scent with a lot of honey, clementines, toffee, raisins, nectarines, nuts and a touch of mushroom. The taste is powerful, almost hard, with a distinct sweetness (20 g/liter) that is overwhelmed by splendid acids and a sensation of minerality in the finish. Price: € 28.

2007 Riesling Muhlforst, Mader

The vintage 2007 was characterized by a very long autumn in which the grapes were able to develop a broad and complete aromatic palette without running the risk of being affected by harmful mold. There is no green tones, and the complexities can sometimes give an atypical - but wonderful - experience.

2007 Riesling from Muhlforst in Hunawihr has an amazingly deep yellow in color. The scent carries apple peel, saffron, chocolate, raisins and a sweet fragrance - Fruit & Almonds! The flavor is concentrated without being heavy, the structure is beautifully sandy without being bitter and the mature acids are long and firm. A surprisingly big wine to come from classically oriented Mader. Price: € 8.0.

2004 Gewurztraminer Bollenberg, Camille Braun

Gewurztraminer may - if the vineyard is optimal - mature with great dignity. Then the perfumed scent fades, and the high natural sugars melt down to become volume and body. Bollenberg in Orschwihr has a perfect micro-climate which allows the grapes to reach aromatic maturity before the sugar content becomes to high and the acidity too low.

2004 Gewurztraminer Bollenberg has an amazingly youthful, greenish color. The scent is a purebred, typical palette of ripe yellow apples, a little banana, hyacinth and ginger. The spicy taste is perceived to be dry with some salty licorice and silky but firm acids. A superbly balanced wine with only 7 grams of residual sugar and 4.5 g total acidity. Price: € 6.

2006 Pinot Gris, Guy Wach

If you are looking for a village tucked away from the tourists, with good restaurants and wines of unmatched diversity and outstanding quality, the Andlau is the place to go. Located in a small valley, tucked in between the three Grands Crus Moenchberg, Wiebelsberg and the great Kastelberg it is a one-stop place for all the temptations that the vineyards of Alsace can offer. The "musketeers" Kreydenweiss, Gresser and Wach are all top-notch producers in a dry, yet generous style

2006 Pinot Gris is offers figs, apricots and hazelnuts on the nose. The taste is medium-bodied and only slightly sweet, with a square, focused acidity that is impressive for this difficult vintage. Price: € 8

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Sporen, Scheidecker-Zimmerlin

A hefty rib with chili-infused ratatouille demands a wine with power and substance. Then we are looking for an odd, personal terroir in a hot amphitheater in the heart of Alsace. Sporen is a sun-drenched terroir with a marly soil poor in limestone which gives tremendous volume and moderate acidity, a distinctive vineyard that yields a wine with pronounced schizophrenic character - is it Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer?

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Sporen, has developed a deep, exotic scent with dried apricots and roses. The taste is contradictory with minerality, great body and integrated sugar. A splendid wine revisited. Price: € 8.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Goldert, Ginglinger-Fix

The most exciting feature of a wine is its ability to evolve over time. While maintaining its basic character, the aging wine gives new interpretations of all its properties, expressed in other ways and in different proportions in the young wine relative to the patinated wine.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Goldert has, over a few years, gained more volume in the fragrance and more precision of flavor. Today, the scent is aromatic and flowery and intense with pineapple, figs and oranges. The agile flavor is complemented by the distinctive sandy minerality and delicate, but elegant and long acidity. A racy wine that borrows features from both Muscat and Gewurztraminer Price: € 9.80.

2007 Pinot Blanc, Christian & Véronique Hebinger

There are days when you do not want to think too much about finding the right wine for dinner. Those days you should bring out a bottle of Pinot Blanc, preferably with a sizeable dose of Auxerrois, which gives roundness and body. If this Pinot Blanc is from Eguisheim, you can be sure that the wine is tight, rich and well-made. In addition, if the name on the label is Hebinger, you should expect a wine of quality!

2007 Pinot Blanc has a nice aroma of lemon, yellow apple and a touch of cabbage. The taste is medium bodied, complex and completely dry with minerality and wonderfully refreshing acidity, which is firm without being green. A bit like a really good Grüner Veltliner, if the comparison is allowed. Price: € 5.50.

2005 Gewurztraminer Silberberg, Bechtold

Jean-Marie Bechtold is a strong personality with a strong and genuine commitment to the environment. In and around Dahlheim in northern Alsace he makes biodynamic wines in a very personal style. His hallmark is a special softness that brings out the subtle aspects of his grape material from the half dozen vineyards he carefully manages.

2005 Riesling Silberberg has a full and developed aroma with a spicy character of a genuine Indian curry, a hint of smoky rubber and ripe red apples. The taste is supple and caressing with nicely integrated sweetness within a well-balanced, almost medium-bodied taste.
Price: € 8.50.

2008 Pinot Blanc, Bruno Sorg

It takes a lot of skill and dedication to make firm Pinot Blanc based on 80% Auxerrois. However, year after year, François Sorg puts his act together, spoiling his loyal clients with this charming wine that is perfect for the table.

2008 Pinot Blanc is fresh and fruity with white peach, licorice, oranges and sun-ripe tomatoes from the garden on the nose. The taste is medium bodied and dry with a great mid-palate, zesty acidity and a very pure aftertaste with just a hint of bitterness which adds structure. This is by far the best edition of a wine with the highest ratio quality/price around. 2008 is a magic vintage! Price: €5.

2007 Riesling Rothstein, Clément Lissner

Although many producers are proud of their Grands Crus, their hears often belong to their beloved lieux-dits. This seems true for Hagel (Louis Sipp, Ribeauvillé), Muhlforst (Mader, Hunawhir), Gebreit (Rieffel, Mittelbergheim), Ostenberg (Loew, Westhoffen) and Rothstein (Lissner, Wolxheim). It is among these wines, you'll find the real gems in Alsace, unique wines with great personality.

2007 Riesling Rothstein has a developed and generous aroma of yellow apples, white raisins and figs paired with a smoky and flinty note. The taste is dry but full-bodied, with supple fruit paired with firm acidity and a wonderful minerality. Top! Price: €6.

2003 Pinot Noir Barrique, Koeberlé-Kreyer

No blue grape is so much favored by cellaring as Pinot Noir. It requires several years, but then the angular acids will give way and release the spiciness, generosity, and the smooth richness.

2003 Pinot Noir Barrique has a clear, ruby red pinot colour with a slightly orange edge. In the developed scent there are spicies, lingonberry jam (a creation more Swedish than meatballs) , buttered carrots and a hint of vanilla. The taste is medium-bodied with sweet fruit, quite dry with refreshing acidity and velvety tannins. A wine that makes one happy! € 9.35.

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Kaefferkopf, Maurice Schoech

Kaefferkopf is one of the most heterogeneous Alsace Grands Crus. Here there are clay soils on top of granite, and gravel from the granite on calcareous marl. Yet Kaefferkopf always a special freshness, a lemon-like and powerful personality as well as vibrant overtones. The tradition used to be that Kaefferkopf was sold in the form of Gewurztraminer with a small amount of Riesling, but since the terroir became Grand Cru in 2006 the pure Riesling wine has become more common.

>2008 Riesling Grand Cru Kaefferkopf, Maurice Schoech2008 Riesling Grand Cru Kaefferkopf has a young, tight, but rich aroma of pineapple, lemon and white flowers. The taste is strong, fruity, with clean and firm acids that promise a long life. Powerful! € 12.

2001 Gewurztraminer Réserve, Leon Beyer

It is said that the wines from a particular producer is a reflection of his physiognomy. This is completely wrong. In contrast, the wines may reveal certain personality traits, such as a desire to experiment, perfectionism, traditionalism, and even anarchistic traits. The family firm Leon Beyer in Eguisheim makes classic wines that reflect the attitude of the family. They are extremely professional, orthodox and purposeful, while the wines are welcoming and generous in flavor, aroma and quality, but completely in the absence of populism

2001 Gewurztraminer Réserve has a mature and complex fragrance of roses with Indian spices and preserved fruits. The taste is perfectly balanced with a hint of sweetness that complements superbly refreshing acidity. Price: € 14.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Clément Klur

In recent years, Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg in the small village Katzenthal has earned better and better reputation thanks to ambitious producers such as Clément Klur, Meyer-Fonné, Jean-Marc Bernard and Paul Blanck. On Wineck Riesling dominates overall, and because the terroir does not favour botrytis, the wines are crystalline, fresh and classic.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg-Wineck has an elegant, relatively open nose, with hints of herbs (oregano), candied lemons and green apples. The taste is smooth even though it is tight and balanced, with high acidity and a long fine aftertaste. Excellent with oysters! Price: €12.

2006 Pinot Blanc, Pfister

It is becoming increasingly common to use oak barrels for élevage of Pinot Blanc. This wine from Pfister in Dahlenheim is a clear suspect; the aroma is developed and nutty with great complexity. To get the oak treatment confirmed I checked with Mélanie Pfister who replied:

2006 Pinot Blanc has been produced in stainless steel tanks, as all the other wines on the domain. The wine has spent time on its yeast deposit, which contributes to the rich palate. Pinot Blanc is flowery as young, but with time they develop nuttiness (which may bring to mind oak barrels) as well as an element of minerality." A very good wine that could have been mistaken for a Meursault, had it not been for the minerality in the aftertaste. Price: €8.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Pfingstberg, Camille Braun

The only comfort that December brings is the ending of November, the opportunity to light candles and to uncork a bottle of summer. Camille Braun, located in Orschwihr, has received much and well-deserved attention from La Revue du Vin de France. This charming domaine offers a lot of class at very reasonable prices, regardless if you are a big importer or a private, visiting customer.

2005 Riesling Grand Cru Pfingstberg offers camphor, ripe yellow apples and kirsch on the nose. The taste is rich and full, yet the aftertaste has very good structure, great acidity and a sandy minerality. A winner!
Price: € 10.

2008 Muscat, Laurent Barth

A single day on Ipanema Beach is enough to make one crave for Alsace Muscat. Not even Swedish November with chilly winds, gloomy darkness and unsurpassed humidity, can drive away the desire for this lovable and sun-drenched wine.

2008 Muscat is actually from the Grand Cru Schlossberg above Kientzheim despite its simple denomination and is - like all other wines from this Bennwihr-born personality - a miracle of purity and character. The aroma brings a cocktail of orange, apple and banana. The taste is amazingly rich and powerful, with tough acids, focused fruit and a long minty aftertaste. Just as a Caipirinha - only better. Price: € 9

2007 Sylvaner Cuvée "Z", Eric Rominger

Tradition is great in Alsace, much stronger than the commercialism, opportunism and short-sightedness. Therefore, many producers cultivate "lesser" grapes in the best locations. Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé is ideal for the Sylvaner, and is highly valued in the twin villages Westhalten and Soultzmatt, which together with Mittelbergheim and some villages in northern Alsace (Westhoffen and Bergbieten) give great Sylvaner, by any standards.

2007 Sylvaner Cuvée "Z" has a dense but quite restrained aroma of peach, pineapple and wet wool. The taste is fruity, quite dry, medium-bodied with a typical bitterness in the long aftertaste. Price: € 11.

2007 Riesling Cuvée Speciale, Christian & Véronique Hebinger

As an amateur obsessed with wine, it is only too easy to focus solely on wines from the finest terroirs and the most written-about producers. But above all it is a grief that so many extremely well-made, personal and useful wines are overlooked by those who - rightly - visit Alsace. Perhaps it is within the gap between the basic cuvées and the Grands Crus that you may find the bargains that brings the most joy for money.

2007 Riesling Cuvée Spéciale is still very, very young and has an aroma which offers yellow apples, bananas, walnuts and chocolate. The taste is very tight, remarkably fresh with a restrained fruit that lingers in the well-structured aftertaste. Pure pleasure! Price: € 5.80.

2007 Riesling Tradition, Barmès Buecher

Overlooking Quarter Latin of Paris, we find Panthéon, a grand monument with a clear view of Tour Eiffel. One block down the street, on Rue St. Jacques there is a wonderful little Parisian wine shop, Caves du Panthéon, which has a tantalising selection of wines from France's small quality growers. Here you can buy the...

2007 Riesling Tradition, a strictly biodynamic wine by Geneviève and François Barmès. The scent contains candied lemon, almond from Valencia and a warm, buttery tone of toffee. The taste is dry and amazingly complete, with a dense fruitiness of apples, pears, ripe yellow prunes and grapefruit. The acidity is ripe and fresh, accompanied by a model minerality that gives a sense of absolute purity in the finish. A wine at a high level despite the modest classification. Price: € 11.

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

The scientific research on wine has revealed the chemical compounds which give certain aromatic characteristics of white wines. For instance, the characteristic smell of "petroleum" is caused by 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalen, a derivative of carotene also known as TDN. The scent of citrus and ginger, however, come largely from 3,7-dimethyl-2-octen-1-ol, a typical commercially available component that is widely used in perfumes. But still, it will take long until one can identify what lies behind the character of "minerality", you know where the hard, salty, fresh and dry lingering feeling in the mouth when drinking fine Riesling.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg-Wineck has a generous aroma of warm apples, cloves and sweet flowers. The taste is fruity, supple, rich and already complex with a minerality that remains half hour in the aftertaste. Wonderful and almost for free. Price: € 10.