Summer Whites from AlsaceJune 21st, 2011 by Alan A. Barone
Beginning just outside Strasbourg and extending southward for almost 70 miles through the wooded slopes and hills of the Vosges Mountains near France’s eastern border with Germany and Switzerland, here lies the ancient and impressive Alsace wine region. The Vosges Mountains tend to keep the region dry and protected from the cold Atlantic weather.
Unlike the rest of France, Alsatian wines are more easily recognized in the New World because of their unique labeling laws that require that the grape varietal be present on the wine label (not just the name of the place of origin). The vast majority of wines in Alsace are white wines (they do produce a small amount of Pinot Noir).
The four primary varietals of the nine permitted are also the only varieties that are allowed to become grand cru and late harvest wines. Certainly the finest wines are made from the Riesling grape, with its elegant, flattering aromas and dry character is contrasted by the wonderful fruit and mineral textures inherent to these wines. Their Gewürztraminer has a rich, exotic nose with spicy, floral, citrus and tropical notes. Its full-bodied rich flavors are unmistakable.
Next is Pinot Gris, which generally has less intense aromas and fresh, fruit flavors with even a touch of sweetness. Arguably the most important late-harvest grape, the Muscat, is very aromatic with honey-like fruit and is vinified much drier than other regions of the world. Although Pinot Blanc is not included in this distinction, it is a very popular grape that tends toward a more subtle fruit character.
When you are outdoors relaxing on the approaching warm summer days and perhaps readying the grill for a light al fresco dinner of some spicy sausage, shellfish, poultry or fish, enjoy a chilled, crisp, refreshing white wine from Alsace to sip before, during and even on throughout the evening.
My suggestions are great values and will surely enhance the experience:
$20 and Under
2008 Dopff & Irion “Crustaces”
This Slyvaner, Auserrois, and Pinot Blanc blend has aromas and flavors of green apple and pear with just a hint of honey and mineral over a light mouth feel.
2008 Trimbach Riesling
Pleasing citrus aromas with intense lime and mineral flavors are carried with bracing acidity all the way through the palate and finish
2009 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Pinot Gris “Romanus”
This 100% Pinot Gris shows floral and tropical fruit fragrances with a very delicate texture and soft pineapple and nutmeg flavo
2008 Pierre Sparr Riesling
This medium-bodied wine is refreshing with snappy lime and grapefruit aroma and flavor notes and a touch of honeydew melon on the finish.
$21 and Above
2009 Leon Beyer Gewürztraminer
Intense bouquet of dried apricot and fruit blossoms open-up on the delicious palate with peppermint, peach and clove on a full-bodied frame.
2007 Josmeyer Riesling “Les Poerrets”
Les poerrets means stone referring to the minerality that pervades the nose and palate along with well-balanced and pretty citrus notes.
2009 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer
Delightful aromas of rose, berries, melon and spice follow through with more concentration on the palate, along with a dose of minerality.
2009 Marc Kreydenweiss Riesling “Andlau”
Aromas of fresh herbs and citrus open-up on a medium frame with flavors of red apples and dried grapefruit and a hint of minerality on the clean finish.