Tag Archives: Alsace

Domaine Paul Blanck – 24/02/2012

Muscat 2011
Unmistakable musk aroma, but without the viscosity and oiliness you can sometimes get with the variety.

Gewurztraminer 2011
Reminded me of the lolly teeth I used to eat when I was young, sitting somewhere between musk sticks and spearmint.

Schlossberg Riesling Grand Cru 2011
Very floral and white peach aromas, and was more intense and balanced in the texture and acidity.

Furstentum Riesling Grand Cru 2011
Richer, fuller and broader on the palate, showing more tropical citrus notes and more texture.

Furstentum Riesling Grand Cru 2005
Wonderful mineral kerosene nose riesling gets, with ripe pineapple and pear fruit on the palate.

Domaine Paul Blanck

Domaine Paul Blanck

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Kuentz-Bas – 24/02/2012

The 2010 Tradition wines (Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer) were all very fresh and consistently high-quality varietal examples, showing texture and food-friendliness.

The Collection wines (Riesling 2010, Pinot Gris 2008 and Gewurztraminer 2008) I tried were all exceptionally good, with the Pinot Gris the standout showing slightly smoky reductive pear notes on the nose, and restrained richness and creamy earthiness.

Of the Trois Chateaux wines I tried (Riesling 2010 and Pinot Gris 2009), the Riesling stood out with its salty earthy minerality on the nose and palate, with great concentration and texture, but without weight and overt fruit.

Pfersigberg Grand Cru Riesling 2010
Closed and far too young, but had wonderful complexity and length on the palate.

The Eichberg Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2010
Very dark floral honey nose, had wonderful density and savoury complexity, but was very elegant and harmonious.

Long tastings in Alsace

Long tastings in Alsace

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Difference of opinion (Alsace, France – Day Four)

One of the major goals of my journey is to discover first hand what makes each great region in the wine world unique, to find a consistency if there is one. With so many regions to choose from as a wine consumer, it helps to have some element of the product to distinguish it from everything else. Most major regions in Europe usually have more producers than all of Australia, and when you only visit six of them it isn’t always easy to get an accurate snapshot. If you are visiting very high quality ones it does help, as the tenets of quality are usually the same (low yields, natural yeast fermentation etc.) Even in these circumstances you can get producers that have almost completely different philosophies, yet both produce outstanding wines. This is one of the many things that makes wine such an amazing product, and working in it exhilarating.

Old foudre with tartrate build-up at Kuentz-Bas

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Steiner school (Alsace, France – Day Three)

On my trip thus far I have had the opportunity to visit quite a few biodynamic growers and producers, from California to Casablanca. With 15% of all vineyards (anecdotal) engaged in biodynamic viticulture in Alsace, this may be considered the unofficial home of it. As an atheist and natural cynic, my initial impression of the biodynamic principles outlined by Rudolf Steiner almost 100 years ago was that it sat somewhere between a cult and a pagan rite. Even after studying the principles through my Masters degree I understood the reasons for doing it, but didn’t necessarily understand the philosophies and some of the practices involved. Perhaps it is also my business and marketing background that makes me a little more cynical about it and it may be a different case if I were an agriculturalist myself. In my trip I have learnt a lot about the concept and met many passionate and committed individuals, but I have also met as many cynics. At the end of the day, if it makes better wine, that is all I care about. I certainly don’t ascribe to gaining certification merely as a marketing strategy, and respect people who truly believe in it to produce healthier soils and vines. My week in Alsace saw me visit many of the top producers using the philosophy, and all three of my visits on the third day were BD producers.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht

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Familiar ground (Alsace, France – Day Two)

Returning to Alsace feels like coming home, as I feel an affinity to these wines are producers. After trying so many mediocre pinot gris (not pinot grigio, there is a difference) around the world it is nice to taste true examples of this seemingly elusive variety. It is nice to also visit producers I have visited before, or to visit ones whose wines I am familiar with. And although the weather is almost completely different to July 2010, it felt like only yesterday I was turning into the Domaine Weinbach Clos. They do say that familiarity breeds contempt, or in my case complacency. Much like when I was in Champagne, I got quite lazy updating this blog and now find myself chasing my own tail. No use in dilly-dallying then…

Domaine Trimbach in Ribeauville

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Palette fatigue (Alsace, France – Day One)

In 2010 the Alsace region was one of the five I visited whilst I travelled in France for three weeks, and was thus the second region that I would be returning to in Europe. Much like Champagne it is quite a different sight to see in winter compared to summer, but unlike Champagne has its own natural beauty not reliant on vines covered with leaves. The region is as I remember it, and supported my comparison with the Pfalz region. It should be noted that Alsace is not Germany, nor is it really France. The people here are very relaxed and generous, and certainly more humble than their counterparts in other French wine regions. One similarity they have with their German neighbours is their focus on single varietal wines, and a lot of them. In my honest opinion there is not one outstanding variety like there is in the Pfalz, but three (riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer). Between the numerous varieties and the dry and sweet wines, along with the classifications of vineyards, each producer may have as many as 30 wines at any given time, which would suggest dilution and confusion. I think it is both fantastic for variety, and also challenging to be able to promote such varied styles.

Brand vineyard

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