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.

2004 Riesling Silberberg, Willy Rolli-Edel

Take a careful look at the label - soon it will be history! Prehistory is that the domaine Rolly in 1947 was divided between two sons. After another generation, there were the "cousins" Rolli-Edel and Rolly-Gassmann. But due to lack of succession, Rolli-Edel is about to sublimate, the residual stock is sold out and the vineyards united again with those of Rolly-Gassmann. Silberberg, is one of many brilliant Rorschwihr Lieux-dits. Others are Kappelweg, Kugelberg, Muenchberg, Pflaenzerreben, and Stegreben (often far more personal than Grand Cru Gloeckelberg in the neighbouring village Rodern).

2004 Riesling Silberberg has a classic fragrance characterised by a fresh lemons and crushed rock - the hallmark of Silberberg - supplemented by butter-fried apples and honey. The taste is quite dry, almost "spritzig" with elegant citrus notes and a slightly bitter finish. Indeed far from the style of Rolly-Gassmann but very good! Price: € 6.50

2007 Sylvaner, Domaine Weinbach (Faller)

At the foot of Grand Cru Schlossberg, surrounded by Clos des Capucins, matriarch Colette Faller along with daughters Laurence (wine-maker) and Catherine make world-class wines. Year after year Domain Weinbach rises above what other producers do the same terroirs, which proves the greatness of the domaine. The wines exhibit amazing depth and density, outstanding body and balance, and are sublime one the nose and on the palate. In addition, since a few years the tendency of Domaine Weinbach is to aim for more restrained residual sugar levels.

2007 Sylvaner has a broad aroma of crushed grapes, rye-bread, spices and citrus. The taste is compact, with strikingly rich fruitiness in a medium rich body. Firm acids gives both spine and freshness, enhanced by a trace of characteristic bitterness. Perfect partner to butter-fried scallops. Price: € 12.

2007 Pinot Noir, Bruno Sorg

While the world is flooded with highly extracted, red wines rich in alcohol with unclear storage potential, Alsace offers elegant, smooth Pinot Noir for every occasion. The Pinot Noir vineyard area is increasing rapidly, and the quality is elevated at all levels.

2007 Pinot Noir is very bright red. The open scent contains all the hallmarks of Pinot Noir; blueberry, strawberry, carrots in butter, bitter orange and a hint of rubber. The taste offers sweet fruit and elegant acidity, low-key but ripe tannins and sufficient tannins, in a medium-body. Aftertaste has fresh summer strawberries and excellent balance. Price: € 7.

2007 Riesling Thalberg, Roland Schmitt

Few producers offer so few products as the Schmitt family in Bergbieten. The list includes a mere 4 wines despite an annual output of 45 000 bottles from 10 hectares. It has long produced classic Riesling from Lieu-dit Glinzberg and from Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten, Vielles Vignes and Cuvée Roland. But in 2007, an Riesling Thalberg was launched, and we now await the first wines from a newly purchased parcel on Grand Cru Engelberg in Dahlenheim.

2007 Riesling Thalberg has, after 18 months of development in the bottle, a complex aroma of lime, white flowers, nuts and passion fruit. The flavour harmonises perfectly with the aroma and is bone dry without being harsh, and it is rich without being the least heavy. A model wine from a sympathetic producer who always who never disappoints. Price: € 8.40.

2003 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Engelberg, Bechtold

The Grand Cru Engelberg finds itself on the summit of Mont Scharrach, located in the region called Couronne d'Or, the vineyard area west of Strasbourg. Engelberg rests on calcareous soil, which provides potent wine with excellent character and structure, regardless of variety. Here, Jean-Marie Bechtold crafts delicious wines in a truly personal style in which he achieves a brilliant combination of restrained, velvety softness, dryness and elegance.

2003 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Engelberg has an aroma of coffee, dark berries, liquorice, fennel and a slightly hot, exciting tone of Grand Marnier. The taste is velvety, juicy, medium full-bodied and quite dry with amazingly vivid fruit acidity in the aftertaste. A remarkably fresh 2003. Price: €10.50.

2007 Riesling, Domaine de l'Oriel Gérard Weinzorn

Claude Weinzorn has a passionate relationship to the wines of and the excellent terroirs located on the granite surrounding Niedermorschwihr. His yields is kept low, and the style is classically elegant in a focused and restrained style. ALL wines are delightful in their purity, and both grape character and the vineyard characteristics are fully expressed.

2007 Riesling is based on grapes from young (<30 years [sic!]) vines on the Grand Cru Sommerberg. The aroma is distinctly fruity with yellow apple, melon, clementine and flint. The palate has a fresh attack, it has a slightly less than medium body which is packed with fruit salad, while the finish has intense, almost saline, mineral tones. A terroir wine of high class. Price: € 7.50.

2008 Auxerrois, Clément Lissner

Auxerrois is most unknown grape, mainly because it usually mixed and sold in Pinot Blanc blends, more rarely pure in their own name. The variety stems from Gouais Blanc, a Croatian grape that have been crossed with varieties from the Pinot family to give rise to, among others, Chardonnay, Aligoté (the Kir base of Burgundy), Melon (Muscadet), Gamay (Beaujolais), and the almost extinct Alsatian variety Knipperlé.

2008 Auxerrois has a welcoming, complex aromas of melon, toasted pumpkin seeds and ripe pineapple. The taste is excellently well-balanced, with a fresh and lovely acidity that gives support to the beautiful peachy fruit. The aftertaste has a backbone of tartric acid, which provides structure and freshness, which is unusual for a Auxerrois. A superb wine, whatever yardstick, from one of Alsace's most interesting producers. Price: € 4.50.

2004 Pinot Noir Cuvée Théophile, Mader

Pinot Noir is the grape of Alsace, whose cultivated area is increasing most rapidly. A warmer climate, improved viticulture and progress in the cellar - many factors interact to allow production of full red wines from Alsace. Hence, today one finds many good examples of fruity but elegant, spicy Pinot Noir which must be taken seriously.

2004 Pinot Noir Cuvée Théophile from Hunawihr has a brilliant, bronze shimmering cherry color. The aroma is developed with strawberry/blueberry jam, embedded in lovely oak. The taste is medium bodied, offers velvety fruit with fine acidity and ripe tannins. The silky finish has some length and makes a perfect match with slices of butt of lamb off the grill, marinated in sherry and fresh herbs. A quality wine which many tasters would have placed in St Emilion. Price: € 11.

2007 Pinot Blanc "B", Albert Boxler

Jean Boxler in Niedermorschwihr makes Alsace's most captivating Pinot Blanc. The grapes originate from the Grand Cru Brand in neighboring Turckheim. Brand is always floral, fresh wine with a tight focus. Firmness is also a characteristic of Pinot Blanc. As well of the outstandingly talented Jean Boxler.

2007 Pinot Blanc "B" is an aromatic wine with fresh herbs, white flowers and coconut in the formidable scent. The taste is as compact as the fist of a heavyweight boxer, with layers of ripe, peachladen fruit and a brutal but mature acidity, which leads to a refreshing minerality on the finish. A great wine with huge qualities. Price: € 11.

2002 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg, Charles Baur

Eguisheim has two excellent Grands Crus, Eichberg and in Pfersigberg, but it is the latter that provide the most focused wines. A Pfersigberg is never heavy or overblown, and should show discrete minerality and offers a fragrance of the red earth. Riesling and Gewurztraminer grapes are reference varieties, but Muscat fits at least as good, while Pinot Gris has not yet fully convinced on Pfersigberg.

2002 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg has a mature, complex but above all fresh scent with cinnamon, ginger, citrus, honeysuckle and raspberries. The palate is focused and elegant with a trace of vanilla and banana, minerality and zesty acids. The finish is dry due to a pinch of the typical bitterness. A model wine that gives credit to both Pfersigberg and the local style of Eguisheim. Price: € 14.

2005 Riesling Bruderbach Clos de Frères, Etienne Loew

Westhoffen is a village gifted with many types of soils and bedrock.
Side by side with classic muschelkalk, one finds white, read and green marl on the ridges that surround the village, forming a protective amphitheater with a stable climate without extremes.

2005 Riesling Bruderbach Clos de Frères grows on calcareous sand with marbles of muschelkalk and dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. The aroma is developed with dates, honey, citrus and a toasted aroma reminding of coffee. This toasted character is also in the flavor which is long, medium-full, elegant and fruity. The acidity develops on the palate and finishes high and crispy, a fingerprint of an Alsace terroir rich in alkaline substances. Price: € 8,20

2004 Muscat Grand Cru Brand Cuvée Aurélie, Armand Hurst

Grand Cru Brand rises as a steep amphitheater above Turckheim. This hot pot rests on relatively easily weathered granite bedrock with very good drainage. Therefore Brand excels during cool years with a long autumn. Riesling wine from Brand are floral and has an elegance that brings to mind Muscat, while Muscat instead have profound depth and can withstand long storage.

2004 Muscat Grand Cru Brand Cuvée Aurélie has a developed, creamy aroma with mint, roasted almonds and honey, which brings to mind sweet half sibling such as Moscatel de Setúbal and Muscat Beaumes-de-Venice. The taste is totally dry but juicy with superb minerality in the aftertaste. A wine loaded with power but only a little alcohol - to a ridiculous price! Price: € 9.50.

2007 Pinot Blanc, Roland Schmitt

Riesling, of course, is the grape that most clearly of all reflects its terroir. But for the truly talented vinmakarna, particularly those working biodynamic, and some vineyards all wines exhibit the intrinsic features of the terroirs, regardless of variety. Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten and surrounding vineyards always make a clear and unique imprint, even on the Sylvaner and Muscat. The calcareous marl and the relatively cool climate wines with the flesh, freshness, finesse and vitality.

2007 Pinot Blanc is a fruity fragrance with a touch of fennel and citrus. The taste is medium full-bodied, firm but juicy with a typical and obvious taste of yellow, ripe grapefruit. A wine with class. Price: € 5.50.

2005 Muscat Les 3 Demoiselles, Pfister

Muscat is grown on less then 3% of the viticultural area, and this dry wine does not get the attention it deserves. While the grower struggle with inconsistent flowerings and yields, the average visitor to the area skips Muscat when visiting the producers. However, those of us that acknowledges that Alsace Muscat is a serious, unique, versatile, seductive, and interesting wine with loads of quality and personality, we just can't get enough of it.

2005 Muscat Les 3 Demoiselles has multi dimensional aroma where crushed grapes, kirsch, Cointreau, toffee and nuts. The taste has great definition, firmness, structure and firm acidity, while a moderate (12.5%) of alcohol is perfectly embedded. A serious wine made by a rising star. Price: €10.

2002 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst, Josmeyer

This world-class wines is the result of the amalgamation of the most exuberant grape variety, the most self-minded terroir and one of the most skillful wine producers in Alsace. Hengst in Wintzenheim is a terroir on cold, oligocene marl which gives acidity and focus, and the extremely sunny and dry microclimate allows the grapes to mature gracefully under the clear October skies.

2002 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Hengst has a complex aroma of ginger, exotic spices, honey, apricots and wild flowers. The taste is full and ripe with a superior structure, zesty acidity and sweet dry fruits that create an aftertaste that lasts forever. Marvelous! Price: €25.

2005 Muscat Bollenberg, Camille Braun

Bollenberg is located on a ridge, connecting Westhalten and Orschwihr. This lieu-dit gives rich wines with obvious varietal character, charm and class and the growers match the many micro-climates with each grape. Nevertheless, the prices of the Bollenberg are so low that one becomes embarrassed.

2005 Muscat Bollenberg is a pure Muscat Ottonnel. The aroma is not only peach lade, but does also offer honey, licorice and the delightful fruitiness that is a hall-mark of Muscat. The taste is compact and medium bodied, with splendid acidity and the hint of bitterness that goes so well with asparagus. A real treat! Price: € 6.00.

2007 Pinot Gris, Roland Schmitt

Alsace wines can either be fully dry or carry various levels of residual sugar. The "detection limit" for sugar is ca 4 gram/liter, but if the level of acidity is high (as in many Riesling wines) 10 gram/liter may pass unnoticed. However, regardless of sugar level, all wines from Alsace should be fresh, lively and balanced, never flat, heavy or dull.

2007 Pinot Gris from Roland Schmitt in Bergbieten has an aroma, typical for the grape; orange marmalade, smoke and apricots. The taste is medium bodied with notes of rhubarb pie and pineapple, superior freshness, minerality and an almost dry finish. A lovely wine for the table that will gain complexity over several years. Price: € 7.00.

1999 Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg, Louis Sipp

The vintage 1999 is just as underrated as 2000 is overrated, at least for those of us that love firm, classic, pure, long-lived and velvety Riesling that make the heart beat. Etienne Sipp in Ribeauvillé makes nothing but excellent wines, with a fabulous ability to chisel out the most important feature of a great wine: balance.

1999 Riesling Grand Cru Kirchberg has a fully developed aroma of arrack, chalk, wild strawberries, turpentine, ripe apples and candied lemons. The taste is medium-bodied, fruity and clean, and the wine coats the mouth with sweetness without sugar and tartness without any bitterness. The finish is long, full of the Ribeauvillé minerality and really, really good. Price: € 14.50.

2002 Riesling Muhlforst, Mader

Muhlforst is a lieu-dit in Hunawihr, covering over 80 ha next to Ribeauvillé. The vineyards face south-east, and the terroir is dominated by marl, rich in lime. Muhlforst is one of the most reliable lieux-dits in Alsace, playing in the same league as Bildstoecklé, Bihl, Bollenberg, Rotenberg and Herrenweg.

has a complex nose of grapefruit, with a trace of honey and lemon. The taste is bone dry, with layers of pure fruit, some apples, superb minerality and coarse aftertaste that one also finds in the neighbouring Schoenenbourg. A wine that, just like all others from Mader, is a model for classic Alsace wines for the table as well as for the cellar. Price: € 8.

2006 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mandelberg, Scheidecker-Zimmerlin

Vintage 2006 is heaven or hell, with rot or concentration. Grand Cru Mandelberg in Mittelwihr is also heaven or hell, either square or sublime. Gewurztraminer is certainly heaven or hell, with generous charm or boring stickiness.

2006 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mandelberg is only heaven. The aroma shows breed with smoke, coriander, roses and the hint of banana that characterizes Gewurztraminer that benefit from cellaring. The taste is quite full, with freshness, complexity, depth and a long, lingering aftertaste that is a perfect match for a real, homemade curry. A great personality! Price: € 10.

2005 Muscat Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg, Vincent Spannagel

Katzenthal has 21 wine producers, all small and several quality conscious. Here, the prices are low, the doors are open and the hospitality unsurpassed. Vincent Spannagel is the only producer that offers a Muscat from the cool granite of Wineck-Schlossberg, made from wines of Muscat Ottonel and Muscat d'Alsace planted as lateliqourish as in the year 2000.

2005 Muscat Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg has a big, striking aroma of crushed grapes, mint, apples and liquerish. The taste is mouthfilling with plenty with a lot of substance, clean and fresh acidity, and a touch of bitterness (from Muscat d'Alsace) that adds character to the wine. A wine that proves that for Muscat, 1+1=3. Price: € 10.

2007 Riesling Stein, André Rohrer

Even though the trend had begun to swing towards less sugary wines, puritans may turn with confidence to André Rohrer in Mittelbergheim. Here the wines will qualify for any GI diet, yet they all have rich and mature fruit and clearly show the signs of the terroir. Lieu-dit Stein is situated in the very south, below the village on limestone (acidity), protected from the cooling winds (maturity).

2007 Riesling Stein offers oranges and lime, toast, pesto and time on the nose. The taste is bone dry, almost medium bodied with a peppery acidity that backed up by velvety fruit. The aftertaste is absolutely pure and very, very elegant. A stylish produce from a merry vintner! Price: € 7.

1999 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim, Charles Koehly

On the New Year of 2009, Charles Koehly left this world, far to early. Since the early 1970's, this bold and dedicated entrepreneur developed a successful domain, representing the dynamic tradition of Alsace family estates. The house style is classic, crisp and charming.

1999 Altenberg de Bergheim has a big, generous aroma of lilic, petrol, honey, nutmeg and the inimitable scent of orange tree flowers. The taste is light, elegant and clean with a greenish, apply component that gives the wine freshness and personality. A wine that is truly French, the best mark a wine can get. Price: €11.50.

2007Gewurztraminer Gesetz, Domaine Lucas & André Rieffel

Lucas Rieffel is a young vigneron who is very well known and respected, all over Alsace. Since a decade, he makes well balanced, elegant wines with profound environmental concern, and the various terroirs in the communes of Andlau, Barr and Mittelbergheim.

2007 Gewurztraminer Gesetz offers an aroma of spices and banana, indicating the the wine will develop complexity after a few years of cellaring. The taste includes apricot and pineapple, and is mellow and slightly sweet without being sticky. The sugar will be integrated in a few years, and leave room for a focused variatal character. Superb craftsmanship and a promising future. Price: €8.

2002 Riesling Hinterberg, Audrey & Christian Binner

Biodynamic viticulture, naturally controlled yield and vinification based on care in every step is not just a trend, it is becoming normal for quality conscious producers. The young couple Binner in Ammerschwihr belongs, with Pierre Frick and Bruno Schueller also to a small group that avoids adding sulphur at all.

2002 Riesling Hinterberg, grown in Katzenthal offers a giant aroma of white flowers, almonds, honey and candied lemons. The taste is precise with a palette of citrus flavors, saltiness and a minerality that is dressed in superb acidity. I wonderfully chiseled wine the elegance of which resembles that of the neighboring Florimont. Price: €12.

2002 Riesling Hinterberg, Audrey & Christian Binner

Biodynamic viticulture, naturally controlled yield and vinification based on care in every step is not just a trend, it is becoming normal for quality conscious producers. The young couple Binner in Ammerschwihr belongs, with Pierre Frick and Bruno Schueller also to a small group that avoids adding sulphur at all.

2002 Riesling Hinterberg, grown in Katzenthal offers a giant aroma of white flowers, almonds, honey and candied lemons. The taste is precise with a palette of citrus flavors, saltiness and a minerality that is dressed in superb acidity. I wonderfully chiseled wine the elegance of which resembles that of the neighboring Florimont. Price: €12.

2007 Pinot Gris, Clément Lissner

With Riesling it is simple, the greater the terroir the greater the wine. With Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer it is more complex; the generic wines from less exposed terroirs often provide the most wonderful drinks in the hands of skilled winemakers. The wines crafted by Bruno Schloegel, who runs domaine Clément Lissner in Wolxheim with its' highly specific terroirs, proves this point.

2007 Pinot Gris 2007 has a lovely, pure aroma of burning hardwood, pear and quince. Not a trace of rot in sight. The taste is full but not heavy, with a purity and freshness that challenges any Pinot Gris in Alsace. The essence of Nature, put into a bottle! Price: € 5.50.

2006 Cuvée 8, Domaine Pfister

In Alsace there are several young and skilled female winemakers, e.g. Agathe Bursin (already legendary), Eliane Ginglinger (top-notch Riesling Grand Cru Goldert) and Mélanie Pfister, born in 1981. Following internships at Zind-Humbrecht, Méo-Camuzet and Cheval Blanc, Mélanie has taken on the challange to transfer the concept of making serious multi-variety wines from Bordeaux to Alsace.

2006 Cuvée 8 includes Gewurztraminer that brings volume and spicyness to the nose, Pinot Gris that contributed with body, complexity and champignons (at least in 2006), Muscat that gives elegance, and Riesling that stands for freshness and the tartric acid that guarantees structure and backbone. Well made and perfect on the table! Price: € 10.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Sporen , Scheidecker-Zimmerlin

"Rouille" is a delicious and very french sauce, that comes in as many versions as there are households. When made from bread, red grilled bell peppar, fresh chillies, garlic, egg yolk and olive oil, it is perfect to a rich fish soup and a full bodied Riesling.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Sporen offers candied lemons, coffee and smoke on the nose. The taste is generous but still has minerality supplemented by honey, fruit salad and integrated residual sugar. A very personal XXL-Riesling that thinks that it is a Gewurztraminer. Price: € 8.

Pinot Gris 2006 'Les Perles Rares', Laurent Vogt

The village Wolxheim, located some 15 km due west of Strasbourg, hosts many inspired producers that have access to several high-class soil types. But even on the greatest terroirs, selection is everything, especially in difficult years such as 2006.

2006 Pinot Gris "Les Perles Rares" is golden in color and has, despite of the vintage, a lovely fresh and pure aroma of clementine, roasted almonds and quince. Despite the residual sugar, the taste is fresh and long with an elegance, saltiness and minerality that resembles a Palo Cortado sherry. Price: € 7.50.

2004 Pinot Blanc Réserve Bergheim, Sylvie Spielmann

From Bergheim and north, Auxerrois is the main component in wines sold as Pinot Blanc.
Sylvie Spielmann has the ability to craft vibrant, complex Auxerrois without any of teh heavyness sometimes associated with this early maturing grape. Although Sylvie uses an old chain-driven press, her grape material is first class and her ideals classic in every sense.

2004 Pinot Blanc Réserve Bergheim has a fruity aroma with pear and banan as well as white flowers and mint. The taste is medium-bodied, supple and juicy which feels complete on the palate, offers a wonderfully balanced acidity and a noughty touch of grapefruit bitterness in the finish. Price: &euro: 9.50.