Saturday, December 29, 2012

2004 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg, Mittnacht Frères

Hunawihr is a small village with just two streets. But there are some producers you absolutely can not miss: Mader (with its dry rich style), Sipp-Mack (on the way back after the painful split in the Sipp-Mack and Agapé), the cooperative (which never makes you disappointed) and the discrete but absolutely fabulous Mittnacht Frères. The firm is located on the main street, opposite François Schwach and David Ermel, and is run by cousins ​​Marc and Christophe. Here are all the wines very, very high quality.

2004 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg from Mittnacht Frères in Hunawhir is golden yellow. The nose is fresh and tight with hints of ginger, peach, smoke, grapefruit and wet stone. The taste is complex with creamy fruit, firm acids and a honey-like sweetness that leads into a long, balanced finish. Yezzz! Price: 18 €.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg, Louis Sipp

Grand Cru Osterberg provides some of Alsace freshest wines, regardless of grape. Often you'll find firm acids of lime and lemon in the Rieslings, and even Gewurztraminer from Osterberg is tight and elegant despite much residual sugar. The character comes because Osterberg slopes slightly to the east rather than to the south, while the heavy and calcareous marl soils keep protects the acids during the ripening process.

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Osterberg from Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé is green shimmering in golden yellow. The scent is fresh and it has exciting aromas of cured ham, lavender, honey and grated ginger. The taste is very mellow with a velvety mouth feel, and tight and almost harsh acid that provide energy to balance a natural sweetness. The aftertaste has a lot of salinity, a trait that will become more and more prominent with age. Price: 20 €.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The 2012 Alsace vintage, commented by vigneron Florian Beck-Hartweg

Alsace wine producers will remember 2012  as one of the most stressful vintage in the last times! We had all the climate extremes we could imagine : some winter frost, much rain in summer, hail... We had to be very vigilant all year long and adapt our strategy to the climate.

The sunny and dry weather in August and early September saved us. This permitted to dry the leaves and the grapes, and thus to avoid the rotting of the grapes. The grapes ripened very fast, permitting to start the grape picking earlier than expected. Then the weather forecasts predicted a long rainy period, and we realized that we had to pick the grapes as fast as possible, knowing that the grapes were perfectly ripe and that there was a risk of dilution and rotting.

We started with the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, which are really great: very healthy and a nice balance in the wines. Then the Gewurztraminers were very aromatic and balanced too. We picked all our vineyards because we realized that there was no chance to produce any good late harvests this year, which turned to be a good choice. Finally we picked the Rieslings last, which had more difficulty to ripen due to the draught. The best vineyards with low yields and deep roots managed to ripen before the rains, the others will be a bit lighter this year.

However, the result is much better than what we expected during the summer! In my opinion and in my region of Alsace, Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris will be the best varieties this year, some Riesling and the late harvests won't be as good as in the last years.

Florian BECK-HARTWEG, ecological winegrower in Alsace
Dambach-la-Ville, 9 December 2012.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten, Roland Schmitt

It's fascinating when wines, with age, attain the aroma and flavor of a completely different type of wine from a completely different place. This Riesling can easily be mistaken for a great Chablis Grand Cru. The combination of minerality, acidity and focus reminds me of the sheer power of the great vineyards Les Clos and Bougros. But maybe this is logical since is the soil of Altenberg de Bergbieten is heavy, full of lime and barely warm enough.

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten from Roland Schmitt is golden yellow. The fragrance is overflowing of acacia, orange flowers, wet flint and one hint of green bananas. The taste is dry, powerful, rich and complex with a dominant minerality, grippy acids and an infinite and clear aftertaste. Dazzling. Surprising! Price (as of 2012): € 14.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2010 Riesling Clos des Chats, Simonis

Actually, it is inconceivable that they have managed to build a golf course in the hills of Alsace. It lies in the valley that extends to the southwest from Ammerschwihr. At the height of the first tee, but on the opposite side of the valley lies the protected, magnificent vineyard Katzenstegel. Here the bedrock is composed of granite, covered by a thin layer of sun-baked sand.

2010 Riesling Clos des Chats from Réne Simonis in Ammershwihr is deep yellow. The scent is, despite the vintage, very generous with pineapple, passion fruit, orange and lilac. The taste is powerful and bursting, full of delightfully chewy fruit, framed by good acids, while the finish is so clean.  Bottled sunshine. Price: € 10.50.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Crémant Blanc de Noir, Louis Sipp

The main base for crémant is Pinot Blanc, followed by Auxerrois. This explains why a full 21% of the Alsace vineyards are cultivated with these two grapes. However, increasingly important are Chardonnay, which adds racy acids and toasty finesse, as well as Pinot Noir. Just as in Champagne, Pinot Noir based sparklings are a bit rich more fruity and a bit fuller.

Crémant Blanc de Noir from Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé is deep coloured with a redish tint. The aroma is very fruity, dominated by cherries. On the palate, this crémant is very full, yet nice and dry with lingering acidity and a trace of tannins in the aftertaste, perhaps the result of a moment of maceration? A real mouthful! Price: € 11.

Monday, September 24, 2012

2009 Muscat Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé, Seppi Landmann

Seppi Landmann is a producer with a passion for wine and wine as a carrier of culture. Not only does he have plantings of Muscat on his best terroir, for the harvest in the weekends he invites friends, auto workers from Toulouse, Swedish wine tourists and others who want to spend a pleasant but tiring day on the steep and sunny slopes of Zinnkoepflé. For lunch soup, rich stories and laughter are served.

2009 Muscat Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé from Seppi Landmann in Soulzmatt has a bright golden yellow color. The aroma is rich and composed of orange, melon, almond and white flowers. The flavor is wonderfully elegant, complex and dry with layers of fruit and lively acids in a featherweight body. A wine full of character that illustrates Seppis great skill and delicate touch. Price: € 12 (au primeur).

Monday, September 17, 2012

2007 Riesling Jubilée Hugel, Hugel & Fils

In 2066 we will be able to drink the 2007 vintage at the same age as we now drink the 1953. Unfortunately, there is only one single bottle left of the 1953 Riesling Jubilée Hugel. The third last was emptied in the company of Serge Dubs, the world's best sommelier. The second last of this stunning wine was drunk by the wine club Munskänkarna in Lund, Sweden in September 2012 at a tasting of old Hugel wines in the presence of Etienne Hugel. Thank you Etienne, thank you Hugel & Fils for what you do for Alsace and the regions' amazing, age-worthy wines!

2007 Riesling Jubilée Hugel from Hugel & Fils in Riquewihr is golden yellow with a youthful, greenish tint. On the nose it is dense with acacia, grapefruit, yellow apples, chocolate, bisquits and a hint bicycle tube. The taste is medium bodied, velvety and harmonious with sun-ripe, mature fruit and an acidity that is discrete at first but then evolves on the palate to frame a long and very promising aftertaste. Drink now and during the next half a century to come. Price (2012): €26.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2010 Pinot d'Alsace, Marcel Deiss

The entire wine industry in Alsace is built around wines with up-front and easily recognizable grape character. Consequently, Alsace is the only region in France where you can put the grape on the label. However, Marcel Deiss enhances stresses the terroir, and most of their wines are sold with only vineyard designation. Pinot d'Alsace is an exception, although it is impossible to be sure which grapes the wine is made from. My tip: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir in descending order.

2010 Pinot d'Alsace from Marcel Deiss Bergheim is deep yellow. The scent is very much "pinot", if you close your eyes reminiscent of a powerful Champagne with chocolate, lemon and distinct features of the storage sur lies fines . The taste is broad and complex with harmonious fruit salad character and sounding, solid acids and premiere balance. An extremely well crafted wine, sold Sweden for SEK159! Price: € 12.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crémant, Albert Boxler

Sometimes, when visiting wineries, you say things that make you very popular. During a visit to the Boxler family I praised the beautiful and original label on the firms' crémant. It turned out to be a child's drawing, made by their son Louis at age six. It was their own idea to divide the drawing into separate fields, and add one  which is metallic copper colored in the same tone as the foil cap on top of the cork. Neat!

Crémant from Albert Boxler in Niedermorschwihr is from vintage 2008. The aroma is wonderfully fresh with apples, lime, minerals and a hint of sourdough bread. The flavor contains both soft, velvety fruit and crisp, focused acids that form a harmonious whole. The mousse is fine and lifts the wine to great heights. Good, usable and ridiculously cheap. Price: € 9.50.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2009 Gewurztraminer Nature'S, Louis Sipp

A few decades ago growers were struggling to get enough sugar in the grapes. Several factors contribute to the facts that the must has higher sugar content today. The climate is warmer, yields are lower and consumers will not accept wine from unripe grapes with green character. For Gewurztraminer this is often a problem. Many Gewurztraminers are considerably sweet, almost sticky, when bottled. But with only 3-4 years of cellaring the sugar integrates and the wine exhibit elegance and purity.

2009 Gewurztraminer Nature'S from Louis Sipp in Ribeauvillé has a restrained nose, with milk chocolate, orange, violet and pears. The flavor is rich and strikingly elegant, with supple fruit, a distinct but fully integrated sweetness and a minerality that gives the wine character and length. Price: € 10.

Monday, July 30, 2012

2007 Pinot Blanc Cuvée Précieuse, Pierre Frick

Jean-Pierre Frick was one of the first in France with that, already in the 1980s,  applied biodynamic methods and to reject all forms of sugar addition (chaptalisation), even in its sparkling crémant. Today he is a pioneer in making wine without the addition of sulfur, even before bottling. But most importantly – his wines are fabulous! Rich, fresh and personal.

2007 Pinot Blanc Cuvée Précieuse from Pierre Frick in Pfaffenheim has a golden color. The aroma is massive, with hints of figs,  nuts and butter that bear witness of maturity, but also an exotic element of Mediterranean spices. The taste has a large volume with a velvety soft mouthfeel, racy acids and some minerality to balance the residual sugar (6 grams per liter). A wine that can handle even the richest dishes! Price: € 8.80.

2010 Riesling, Léon Beyer

Léon Beyer has long nourished the image as the winehouse that makes the driest of all dry wines in Alsace. Thus, it was feared that the firm's basis Riesling from a year of extremely high acid levels would be backward and sour. However, concern is not justified. This shows that 1) Beyer have skilled providers of grapes, 2) not even Beyer allows the dryness go to extremes and that 3) Léon Beyer is a producer you can trust.

2010 Riesling from Léon Beyer in Eguisheim has a generous aroma of oyster shells, cooked apples, ripe lime and green herbs. The taste is quite light, but the charming and youthful fills the mouth well while the acids ase fresh and clean and just a hint malic. A very positive acquaintance! Price: €11.50.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Froehn, Becker

Grand Cru Froehn covers some  14 hectares, and with an average yield of 50 hectoliters per hectare, it should - given that a sizable portion of wine from a Grand Cru is not sold as Grand Cru - be made ​​about 60 000 bottles of Grand Cru Froehn. Who makes them? There are only six Vignerons Independants that make Grand Cru Froehn, as well as two cooperativ, Beblenheim and Hunawihr. Where do they go? No, what Froehn needs are more producers that, just as Becker, emphasize  and develop this terroir.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Froehn from Becker in Zellenberg has an expressive and sweet smell that includes pineapple, milk chocolate and raspberries. The taste is medium bodied and very dry with good intensity, acids leaning towards lemon and a fairly long finish. Very sympathetic! Price: € 12.80.

Monday, July 9, 2012

2009 Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg Jeunes Vignes, Albert Boxler

There is a magician in Niedermorschwihr. His name is Jean Boxler, the grandson of Albert, who founded the firm. Jean Boxler wielding his wand - baguette in French - of Grand Cru Sommerberg which rises with a slope of 45 degrees near the village, like the Grand Cru Brand. Brand is an amphitheater that slopes down to Colmar. All wines, regardless of grape variety or quality level, is top class in its category.

2009 Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg Jeunes Vignes from Albert Boxler is glistening golden yellow. The aroma is rich and ripe with apple pie and a hint of botrytis (?) which gives complexity (ethyl acetate). The taste is medium bodied, fresh and rich with good acidity, nice minerality and a hint of heat, so typical of the vintage. The finish is long and vibrant. A wine that is a bit more accessible than the firm's flagships "D", "E" and "K". Price: €17.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2010 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois, Albert Mann

When La Revue du Vin de France was to select French Winemaker of the Year 2011 the choice fell upon in Wettolsheim. Why? Was it because of their legendary Pinot Noirs? The classic Riesling Grands Crus from Schlossberg, Furstentum and Hengst? Or because every wine of the estate, despite its' pedigree, is on the top level in a region where the competition becomes stiffer for every year. 

2010 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois from Albert Mann turned out to be the right choice at the cool restaurant Le Coupil i Ribeauvillé, a perfect match for tapas and a tartine with mozzarella, tomato and ruccula. The aroma is a sofisticated bowl of strawberry, melon, pineapple, orange and almonds. The taste has great tension, is fresh and elegant and displays the versatility of the grape in a perfect manner. Not a great wine but really, really good.  Price: € 10.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

2008 Riesling Cuvée Prestige, Beck-Hartweg

In the southern part of the Bas-Rhin the best slopes are granitic. The geology is not as complex as some tens of kilometers south around Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr and the other famous villages in the heart of the Alsace vineyards. The wines from the granites of Bas-Rhin grow in a pretty cool microclimate and are clean, crisp and crunchy with nice acidity. Growers avoid botrytis on the bunches because in order not to risk that the wines lose their elegance.

2008 Riesling Cuvée Prestige from Beck-Hartweg in Dambach-la-Ville has all the classic Riesling components in the fragrance. There are apples, candied lemon and acacia but also a smokiness reminiscent of Chablis. The taste is medium bodied with layers of ripe fruit, while the tartaric acid gives the wine a wonderful structure, and the aftertaste has a slight, mineral saltiness. Extremely well made and inspiring, created by the mere 25-year-old Florian. Price: € 7.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2007 Sylvaner Cuvée "Z", Eric Rominger

France has many acclaimed wines, and just too many who do not get the appreciation they deserve. This overlooked category includes many frech and mineral Muscadet, numerous Banyuls that is an excellent substitute for port wine, brilliant white Burgundies from Saint Aubin, healthy red Cabernet Franc wines from the Loire, and - not least - Sylvaner from Alsace.

2007 Sylvaner Cuvée "Z", Eric Rominger in Westhalten has grown in Grand Cru "Zinnkoeplé. The scent is developed, toasty and mixed with melon, coriander seed and smoke. The taste is big and powerful, full of energy and with a lovely balance between the sturdy acids and the dense, slightly oily aftertaste that is completely dry. Just what a Sylvaner should be. Price: € 11.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2007 Pinot Gris, Seppi Landmann

Seppi Landmann has for years welcomed pickers from all corners of the earth to participate in the harvest of grapes from Grand Cru  Zinnkoepflé, lieu-dit Bollenberg and the beautiful valley Vallée Noble. His late harvested vendanges tardives and sélecton de grains nobles have been legendary in character, depth and purity. But the years have passed and Seppi has now, in the absence of natural heirs, formed an alliance with Rieflé Rouffach to secure continuity.

2007 Pinot Gris Vallée Noble from Seppi Landmann in Soultzmatt has a deep yellow color. The scent offers fresh apricots, spices, orange peel, ripe pears and flowers. The medium bodied taste has a distinct but integrated sweetness, moderate acidity and slight bitterness in the pleasing aftertaste. Price: € 9 (Primeur)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2007 Pinot Noir Cuvée Mathieu, Martin Schaetzel

When local winebloggers recently met, I had the pleasure to drink Georgian wine fermented in a qwewri . A qwewri is a vessel of clay that is dug into the ground and filled with grapes which are then fermented into a completely natural wine, full of vitality and character. The wines become extremely powerful with a complex taste loaded with tannins. A Pinot Noir from Alsace represents a totally different style…

2007 Pinot Noir Cuvée Mathieu from Martin Schaetzel in Ammerschwihr signals PN already with its color. The aroma is developed, fresh and clean with cherries, carrots, vanilla and some rubber. In the mouth the wine offers a silky texture, complex and slightly caramel-like fruit and ripe tannins that offers a good structure. Not great, not spectacular, but a really well crafted and useful wine that developed further during a full six hours in a glass. Price (current vintage is 2009): € 11.50.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Brand, Stirn

It is easy to appreciate when the flavor of a wine matches the aromas. As in a good Chablis, where the smoky aroma of flint and herbs, seamlessly are captured by a taste that is clean, hard, uncompromising and ... absolutely gorgeous. But Alsace offers a lot more surprises, where aromas and flavors may seem to come from different worlds.

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Brand from Stirn in Sigolsheim has huge but focused aromas of chocolate, honey, lilac, clementines and arrack. The taste, however, is tight, perfectly balanced with rich and silky fruit that expand into a firm and elegant minerality. A perfect illustration of how the vines on Brans receive sun and heat through the canopy, while the roots seek nourishment and survival deep in a fragile granite. Price: € 12.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2008 Pinot Noir, Agathe Bursin

When will Alsace Pinot Noir stand up against red Burgundy? Never, is a good answer because a good Echezeaux, Chambertin and Bonnes Mares is in a class by itself. Regardless of reference. But also since reds from Pfalz and Ahr quite often puts Alsace in place. Fortunately, there are exceptions, and several of them are to be found in the sector Rouffach, Westhalten and Soultzmatt. A little warmer, a little more iron, a little harsher but mostly - abundance  of determination, passion and skill.

2008 Pinot Noir from Agathe Bursin in Westhalten has carmine red color. The nose is well defined with currants, black cherries, cooked carrots and wonderfully integrated vanilla. The taste is initially acidic, but opens up in the glass and presents its' silky fruit, supple acidity and a tight finish with no trace of stalkiness. Price: € 14.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Edelzwicker, Gérard Schueller

Elias Canetti got the Nobel prize in literature for the novel Die Blendung. It comes to my mind after spending a week in Burgundy, tasting several hundreds of the worlds' most prestigeous wines, day after day. Wines where 9 out of 10 fall into pieces after some years, after having been sold at astronomical prizes with promises of a glorious future that never arrives. At the same time you may uncork a 20 year old Alsace or Bordeaux at any quality level, selected with blindfold without any worries of oxidation.

Edelzwicker from Gérard Schueller in Husseren-les-Château has a lively and attractive aroma of flowers, mango, apricots and yellow apples. The taste is good, honest and refreshing with lovely acids, a nice backbone and some length. Price: Next to nothing.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

1995 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst, Josmeyer

A wine consists of equal part chemistry and emotions. Some wines make our eyes water, by admiration and by the privilege of getting to drink them. A great wine that approaches its' 20 anniversary attains many similarities with a great piece of art or a classic piece of music: the convey an impression of both a lot of energy and of eternal life.

1995 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst from Josmeyer i Wintzenhem is golden and crystal clear. The aroma is expressive but not vulgar and offers roses, ginger, nuts, chocolate and a hint of volatiles as signs of maturity. The wines coats the mouth, and the pure and complex taste is harmonious with fresh acidity, layers of elegant fruit, fully integrated sweetness and a stunning minerality that lingers on forever in the dryish aftertaste. Magic! Price: €23 (year 2006).

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2000 Gewurztraminer Comte d'Eguisheim, Léon Beyer

Léon Beyer makes super-dry wines that are almost undrinkable in its first 4-5 years. But the domaine has the good taste to wait to release the wines until the young wine has filled out and gained substance and character. The ugly duckling, sort of.

2000 Gewurztraminer Comte d'Eguisheim from Léon Beyer has grown on Grand Cru Eichberg and has a golden yellow color. The aroma is saturated with ginger, cloves, figs, quince marmalade, expensive vanilla and candied oranges. The taste is almost completely dry, but layers of fruit unfold as a peacock tail in the mouth, offering one sensation after the other. The finish is long, fresh and subtle with a nice minerality that lingers on forever. A magical wine, a privilege to drink it. Price: € 30.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2005 Sylvaner Vielles Vignes, Paul Blanck

Sylvaner is a grape that unfortunately lacks clear markers. And today it is not enough to have qualities to sell. To do so consumers must also recognize the grape variety 99 times out of 100. Therefore, Alsace Sylvaner shows a lot of self-confidence simply by being itself. Blunt, strong and good.

2005 Sylvaner Vielles Vignes from Paul Blanck in Kientzheim has a slightly spicy aroma of bay leaves and coriander and a fruity character of apricot and peach. The taste is firm yet light and elegant, with generous acidity and good length. Ideal for food, no matter what kind. Price: € 10.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crémant, Charles Baur

Although there are exceptions, there are two basic conditions to make really good Crémant d'Alsace: Chardonnay and long storage sur lattes . Chardonnay makes the wine crisp and elegant. Sur lattes is the period when the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, when the mousse is formed and dead yeast is broken down so that the wine gets its' complexity. In Alsace, the wine should pas at least nine monthssur lattes which is way too short.

Crémant from Charles Baur in Eguisheim spends 36 months sur lattes and has an aroma of toasted bread, citrus, ripe apple and cola beans. The taste is balanced with a fine structure, and the eight grams of residual sugar is easily supported by the fresh acidity. Price: € 9.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg, Odile Weber

Odile is an important name in Alsace since Sainte Odile is the patron saint of Alsace. She was born blind in 662 A.D., as the daughter of her cruel father Etichon, Duke of Alsace. During her time on earth she managed to bring back her brother from the dead, regain her own sight through prayers and make her father build a monastery in Hohwald close to Andlau, southwest of Strasbourg. Odile was canonized 1807.

2007 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg 2007 by Odile Weber in Eguisheim offers a fresh nose with lilac, minerals, ripe stone fruits and honey. The taste is medium bodied and elegant with savoury fruit, supported by high acidity and a minerality typical of the terroir. Really good! Price: € 12.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl, Zind-Humbrecht

Clos Windsbuhl is located relatively high, at 300-350 m and has a cool microclimate. The bloom is usually two weeks later than at, say, Grand Cru Brand in Colmar. This year, however, spring came early and the grapes were allowed sit a long as 120 days on the vines. Perhaps it is the explanation for wine's amazing complexity.

2007 Riesling Clos Windsbuhl from Zind-Humbrecht in Turckheim has golden yellow, dense color. The nose is tight and clean with flint, coriander, dates and chocolate. The taste is very dry, crisp with a steel-like, clean acidity and plenty of minerality and grapefruit peel in the long finish. 13.1% alcohol, a mere 1.4 grams of residual sugar per liter. Price: € 60.