wines of Alsace

wines of Alsace

Wine wisdom from the Alsace region:
• There are seven primary grapes in Alsace (six white and one red).
• Pinot Noir is the only red grape and is used largely in crémant production.
• Bottles with long, tapered necks are Alsatian.
• Wines of Alsace have historically been fermented to dryness.
• Crémant d’Alsace represents one of the most popular sparkling AOC wines consumed in France.

In our first week of class, we ventured to the Alsace region of France—an area heavily influenced by war over the years. Because of its location on the German border, the winegrowing region changed nationalities from French to German six times.

Although officially French now, the area is rich in German-leaning grapes and wine-making philosophies. Wine labels reflect this in that they note the grape variety (in Germanic tradition) instead of the French place.

Of the seven primary grapes—Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sylvaner, Muscat and Gewürztraminer—four of these are known as the Noble Grapes of Alsace. These four (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Gewürztraminer) are the only grapes that fall under the Alsace Grand Cru AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée).

Alsace is known for organic and biodynamic growers and is among the leaders in the organic movement. The country’s first biodynamic estate was in Alsace (Eugene Meyer). Most of the vineyards and all of the Grand Crus are still hand-harvested.

And now for the tasting!

Willm Brut Blanc de Blancs NV

Willm Brut Blanc de Blancs NV

Willm Brut Blanc de Blancs NV
Willm was the first Alsace producer to export to the United States. The estate is especially known for having one of the best terroirs in Alsace for Gewurtztraminer. This wine is 30% Pinot Blanc, 30% Pinot Gris, 30% Riesling, 10% Gewurtztraminer. Its fruity characteristics of grapefruit, apple and grape make it a good match for poultry, fish and vegetables. It is available at DABC for $13.99.

Hugel Gentil 2013

Hugel Gentil 2013

Hugel Gentil 2013
This is a blend from 12 vineyards in Alsace. “Gentil” means that 50% of the grapes must be Noble. This bottle includes 45% Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner, 23% Riesling, 16% Pinot Gris, 10% Gewurtztraminer, 6% Muscat. The apple and pear flavors of this wine paired perfectly with the spinach quiche served with it at Franck’s Angel Café. Cost is $14.49 at Utah DABC.AlsaceHugel

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012
The Schlumberger vineyards are the largest in Alsace, including the largest Grand Cru holdings. The wine is made from 30% Pinot Blanc, 70% Auxerrois. Aromas of mushroom, leather and minerality suggest a pairing with cream sauces. It is $15.99 at Utah DABC outlets.

Trimbach Riesling 2012

Trimbach Riesling 2012

Trimbach Riesling 2012
The Trimbach estate is headed by Hubert Trimbach, his daughters, and his nephews. They are the 13th generation of winemakers there. They currently produce about 80,000 cases of wine annually, and over 1/3 is exported to the US, making it the largest and most widely recognized Alsace brand in the United States. The yellow label hasn’t changed since 1960. It is 100% Riesling and is $21.99 in Utah.

Willm Pinot Gris Réserve 2013

Willm Pinot Gris Réserve 2013

Willm Pinot Gris Réserve 2013
Willm is a premier estate founded in 1896 by the Willm family. This 100% Pinot Gris wine is fermentedin stainless steel vats for 4-6 weeks. It is sometimes described as “a red wine that happens to be white” and so pairs well with pork, smoked salmon and beef. Is it $15.99 at Utah DABC outlets.

Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer 2008

Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer 2008

Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer 2008
Weinbach’s rich, rose-scented Gewurztraminers are among the finest in the world. This wine is made from 100% Gewurztraminer grapes farmed biodynamically. They received their Demeter certification in 2010. Floral notes alongside honey and honeysuckle lend to the sweet flavor. This wine is currently not available in Utah.

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