Tag Archives: Alsace

Bentleigh Tasting Group – Alsace Whites

The group met recently after a brief hiatus to look at a pretty diverse topic. Alsace is a French region very close to my heart having visited twice. It is possibly the most underrated and also misunderstood, which is partly to do with the seemingly unfocused nature (no one key variety or style) and the fact that it has a complicated history (several times it has been part of Germany). In my opinion it is the most beautiful wine region, and the people are some of the warmest in the country, possibly due to their history of oppression and war.

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Rene Mure – 21/02/2012

Not having tasted any pinot noir wines from Alsace, I was not familiar with the style. From a purely unbiased quality perspective I found the pinots from Mure lacked depth and structure, but were very clean pure examples of the variety.

Cote de Rouffach Riesling 2009
Talcy spritzy lime sherbert aroma, full flavour ripe citrus peach and good intensity.

Vorbourg Riesling 2008
Brighter and tighter in the acid structure, with a dusty minerality, less fruit but more expressive.

Clos St Landelin Riesling 2009
Floral wattle lemon barley aroma, was rich and soft on the palate, but requires some cellaring to fully express itself.

Clos St Landelin Riesling 2010
More powerful in its minerality and had a nice dried herbal element, exhibited finesse and elegance with spectacular balance.

Clos St Landelin Pinot Gris 2009
Very subtle smoky cheese charcuterie nose, was lovely and rich on the palate, with great volume and suppleness.

The gewürztraminer wines were a little out of balance, showing too much ripeness and sweetness for the acids and alcohol.

Clos St Landelin Selection de Grains Noble Pinot Gris 2002
Lovely creme anglaise lemon toffee aromas, but seemed to lack the necessary acid balance for longevity and freshness.

Rene Mure wines in bottle and glass

Rene Mure wines in bottle and glass

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Domaine Leon Beyer – 21/02/2012

Riesling 2010
A very tropical lime aroma reminiscent of a caipirinha on Ipanema beach, and was juicy and concentrated on the palate with a clean finish.

Les Escaillers Riesling 2008
Complex pie crust and caramel honey aromas overlaying the kerosene and lime, and had a toasted hazelnut mid-palate texture.

Comtes d”Eguisheim Riesling 2007
More nougat and orange blossom aromas, was more voluptuous and rich on the palate, but was developing quickly due to the sample bottle being a half-bottle.

“R de Beyer” Riesling 2004
Some rich ripe passion fruit and minerality on the nose, and was surprisingly fresh on the palate for its age.

Comtes d’Eguisheim Pinot Gris 2007
A bold and slightly wild nose of spices and pear, and on the palate managed to sit perfectly between dry and sweet, with some toasty and oily texture and viscosity.

Comtes d’Eguisheim Gewürztraminer 2007
Smoky rubbery reductive character on the nose, but was very powerful and yet mellow on the palate, with some salted caramel complexity.

Comtes d’Eguisheim Gewürztraminer 2003
Certainly pushing the wildness and had picked up some fatty volume and richness from age.

Selection de Grains Noble Gewürztraminer 1998
Significantly more subtle on the nose than the previous two, and was exhibiting treacly molasses and cookie dough volume whilst still retaining some freshness and acidity.

Traditional foudre barrels at Leon Beyer

Traditional foudre barrels at Leon Beyer

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Domaine Josmeyer – 21/02/2012

Le Kottabe Riesling 2009
Showing very bright mineral salty notes with hints of lime and peach blossom, and was purer and lighter than many I tried across the border.

Les Pierrets Riesling 2009
More brooding and less bright and flinty, showing complexity and texture and a tropical fruit nature.

Samain Hengst Grand Cru Riesling 2007
Wonderful concentration depth and volume, bold ripeness and minerality and was pretty extreme on the palate.

Le Fromenteau Pinot Gris 2009
Rich ruby ripeness on the nose, great balance and texture, and a full flavour without clumsiness.

Brand Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005
Looking quiet, and had very gentle mid-palate ripeness with a slight sweet and sour component.

Hengst Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007
A very earthy salty nose, immense length but seemed to build on the palate as it worked its way back.

Josmeyer Hengst Grand Cru Riesling

Josmeyer Hengst Grand Cru Riesling

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Domaine Weinbach – 22/02/2012

Schlossberg Riesling 2010
Lovely bright quince and lime fruit character, and a slightly smoky mineral texture that came very late on the palate.

Mambourg Vendages Tardives Gewurztraminer 2010
Haunting purity of fruit on the nose, and some lovely savoury complexity without being thick and cloying. Both wines were definitely showing their youth, and will live a long time in the bottle.

L’Inedit! Riesling 2009
A nice off-dry balance and gorgeous viscosity and texture on the palate, with a very subtle white truffle stone fruit finish.

Cuvée Ste Catherine 2009
My personal favourite, was showing delicate yet bright pear fruit on the nose, and a slight botrytis character was adding some nice oxidative complexity of white mushrooms.

Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer was again very delicate on the nose, showing some youthful musk and rose water, but on the palate was more concentrated in the spice notes and viscosity. The 2009 wines were generally riper and richer, yet still retained wonderful balance and elegance.

Altenbourg Gewurztraminer 2008
More subtle than the Cuvée Laurence and was showing more savoury complexity.

Furstentum Vendages Tardives Gewurztraminer 2008
One of the most restrained yet balanced GWTs I have ever tied, and in maturity will exhibit some lovely rich caramel and spiced toffee notes.

Mambourg Quintessence Selection des Graines Nobles Gewurztraminer 2006
Without doubt the finest dessert wine I have ever tried. It had gentle floral notes on the nose, was exquisitely subtle on the palate, balanced and caressing yet fresh, broad yet focused. It checked every box you could possibly imagine. Simply a revelation, and one that will stay with me.

Weinbach Furstenturm Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives 2008

Weinbach Furstenturm Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives 2008

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Trimbach – 22/02/2012

Classic Riesling 2009
Ripe tropical citrus notes but retained steeliness, and was quite expressive on the palate with texture and ripeness.

Reserve 2009
Wasn’t as bright or bold, and had a more reductive mineral character with some delicate floral notes.

Cuvée Frederic Emile Riesling 2006
The famous one, and a blend of two Grand Cru vineyards, had a slightly oxidative ripe stone fruit aroma and some richness from some botrytised fruit, and a little warmth that will integrate given some time.

Clos Ste Hune Riesling 2006
A very contemplative wine, both hauntingly ethereal and complex, and yet rich and oily in texture. It is a wine that deserves serious ageing.

Cuvée Frederic Emile Selection des Grains Nobles 2001
Had developed a very truffle peach blossom aroma with some mushroom creaminess on the palate.

Selection de Grains Noble Gewürztraminer 1989
Oppressively reductive and nutty, expressing some smoky mature cheese, with plenty of life left in it.

Clos Ste Hune

Clos Ste Hune

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Domaine Ostertag – 23/02/2012

Pinot Blanc 2010
Bright and fruity on the nose, but very soft and pleasant on the palate, a little light but adaptable with food.

Fronholz Riesling 2009
Very steely quartz minerality, a salty and bold texture, and an underlying honey note.

Muenchberg (not to be confused with the Moenchberg) Riesling 2009
More subtle and supple on the palate, with wonderful elegance and length whilst still being juicy and fresh.

Zellberg Pinot Gris 2009
Showed the influence of barrique maturation, as it had a crunchy oak-derived texture rather than a residual sugar viscosity.

Fronholz Vendages Tardives Gewurztraminer 2007
Not obviously sweet, nor was it particularly dry. Very floral and fresh, it had great integration of acids, sugar, alcohol and texture, but was definitely showing its youth.

Domaine Ostertag range

Domaine Ostertag range

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Marc Kreydenweiss – 23/02/2012

Clos Rebberg Grand Cru Riesling 2008
Amazing toffee and honeycomb vibrancy, and was very delicate and pure on the palate with some savoury cheese elements on the finish.

Wiebelsberg Grand Cru Riesling 2008
A talcier and more herbaceous nose, with savoury smoked honey complexity on the palate with some richness to boot.

Kastelberg Grand Cru Riesling 2008
A lot more brooding and closed than its partners, with a much later dark honey component and more subtle austerity.

Clos Rebourg Pinot Gris 2007
Moved from honey into beeswax honeysuckle, had soft balance and well-contained fruit, with wonderful concentration and elegance.

Moenchberg Pinot Gris 2009
Exhibiting some dark earthy berry components on the nose, complemented by leesy honey notes. On the palate it was showing some nutty texture and richness, and whilst powerful it was still very elegant.

The Marc Kreydenweis range

The Marc Kreydenweiss range

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Domaine Zind-Humbrecht – 23/02/2012

Goldert Grand Cru Muscat 1981
A very ripe tropical passionfruit and pineapple fruit character, a rich oily and complex palate with honey and cream, and showing some subtle savoury notes.

Goldert Grand Cru Muscat 1973
Spectacular concentration, the aromas were completely unfamiliar not having tasted white wines of this age in my limited experience. There were some delicate herbal and steamed vegetable aromas, but late on the palate there was some caramel nougat and slightly smoky minerality. The wine was still showing youth, and will live another 25+ years.

Goldert Grand Cru Muscat 1967
Officially the oldest table wine I have ever tasted, and whilst the first two vintages were still very light and straw in colour, this was a richer golden hue. The 1967 was still showing plenty of ripe glazed fruit characters on the nose coupled with some salted nut and mushroom complexity. On the palate there was something so familiar but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but settled on roasted artichokes. All three wines had amazing balance and length, and probably had some residual sugar when young which had dissipated in time.

As such we ended up tasting 33 wines, which was a little too much and I was getting palate fatigue by the end.

The 2010 wines that had recently been bottled included the Pinot Blanc, the Thann Riesling, the Clos St Urbain Riesling and Pinot Gris, the Clos Winsbuhl Gewurztraminer, and the Vielles Vignes Vendages Tardives Gewurztraminer. These wines were generally very concentrated and high in acid freshness, and were all far too young to be drunk now, with the possible exception of the Pinot Blanc.

Almost half of the many wines produced by Zind-Humbrecht are rieslings, from numerous renowned vineyards including Hengst, Windsbuhl and Brand.

There were a few standouts, such as the Turckheim 2008 which had some creamy oxidative richness and texture, and because of its demi-sec residual sugar would be fantastic with spicy Asian food.

Windsbuhl 2008
Very elegant and fine acids, lovely freshness and brightness, but was very young.

Brand 2009
Some lemon peel and dried mango notes, with some sharp tropical notes on the palate.

Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain 1988 magnum
Exhibited the classic aged riesling characteristics of kerosene and lime on the nose, but was still very fresh in its citrus notes on the palate.

After trying some much older vintages of the same wine, it was nice to try the current release of the Goldert Muscat, which had the typical musk and dried grape notes, but was very fresh without obvious fruit on the palate.

Rotenberg Pinot Gris 2009
Some very subtle truffle and foie gras aromas, and was surprisingly savoury on the palate with a dry finish, a true hallmark of an Alsatian pinot gris.

Clos St Urbain Pinot Gris 1994
Very oily, rich and powerful, and is sitting in a very expressive place at the moment.

Some of the gewürztraminer wines were on the heavy and fat side, such as the Hengst 2008, whereas some of them were very soft and gentle like the Clos Winsbuhl 2008.

To finish with we looked at a SGN GWT from 1986 which was very earthy and had characters of fungi and cream, with a lanolin creamy texture on the palate. Tasting through the pinot gris and gewürztraminer wines showed how important texture viscosity and residual sugar can be to these varieties, but in terms of style seemed somewhat disparate from the very elegant and fine rieslings. This made determining the style of Zind-Humbrecht difficult, and will require more tasting to determine.

Zind-Humbrecht Goldert Muscat 1973

Zind-Humbrecht Goldert Muscat 1973

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Marcel Deiss – 24/02/2012

Langenberg 1er Cru 2009
Flinty and bright minerality, was full and bold in fruit and was quite rich whilst being pure and restrained.

Schoffweg 1er Cru 2008
A soy mirin and oyster sauce nose with very shy fruit, and was much more subtle in the minerality and savoury elements on the palate.

Gruenspiel 1er Cru 2007
Somewhat an oddity as it contains some red pinot noir in it. Some red and white berry aromas and was very soft but slightly astringent

Gruenspiel 1er Cru 2004
Showing the influence of age on the colour of the wine (orange onion colour) and on the palate, picking up some savoury mushroom and berries and nuts.

Mambourg 2009
A creamy vanilla aroma derived from barrel work and malolactic fermentation, with a bold and earthy mid-palate structure.

Schoenenbourg Grand Cru 2008
A lovely pure mineralic stone fruit nose with rich sweet texture and balance.

Altenbourg Grand Cru 2008
Much bolder and more powerful with some nut and mushroom complexity. Both wines were exceptionally well balanced, fresh and elegant and will live for a long time in the bottle.

Marcel Deiss Altenbourg

Marcel Deiss Altenbourg

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