Press "Enter" to skip to content

Tag: Alsace

Wine of the Week

A virtuoso Alsace Pirouette

Les Vins Pirouettes is an open Alsace project consisting of independent wine producers, always growing in number, and led by the respected Christian Binner. Their vineyards are organic or biodynamic certified, and cover many different soils and expositions in 13 different villages. Other than that then have their own personality and style.

Annual production is around 80,000 bottles. There is always spontaneous fermentation, no fining, no filtration, and no sulphur added.

The name Pirouette symbolizes the playfulness and fun they’re all having with this movement, but also the mastery needed to achieve a good result in this type of winemaking.

Each cuvée is vinified at the winemaker’s own place, with the gentle helping hand of the project’s enologists Xavier Couturier and Pierre Sanchez. So the individuality should always be intact.

Ensaladilla rusa the day after

The wine in question is a sylvaner from Ammerschwihr, from a vineyard planted in 1978-1983 on limestone, clay and pebbles. The grapes were picked and selected by hand, and the yield turned out to be 20 hl/ha.
Spontaneously fermented, matured in large, old oak vessels. Unfined and unfiltered. Certified oganic, with biodynamic principles.

Le Sylvaner d’Olivier 2016 (Les Vins Pirouettes)

Light golden. Aromatic with white flowers and elderberry, and some herbs. Medium weight, and very refreshing acidity.

Price: Medium

Food: Fish, vegetables, light meat…

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Brand new Grand Cru

This was one of the wines that stood out in a private blindfold Alsace tasting, with unusually many wrong guesses about which ones were rieslings. However this one couldn’t go wrong, with its steely acidity and inspiring energy.

The name Brand, meaning land of fire, is a reminder that this part of the hill once was eroded by fire. The legend goes that the sun fought a dragon here. It hid in a dark cavern under the vineyard, thus being responsible for the characteristic “warmth” of this grand cru. Only riesling is planted, a total of 2.4 hectares, and now around 70 years of age.

Overlooking the Brand (credit: Dom. Zind-Humbrecht)

The Brand is located just above the village of Turckheim, itself in the outskirts of the bigger town Colmar. Here we find several small granite hills. It is not far from the Munster valley, so which means that despite its south, south-east facing, it also sees the wind running down the valley. As indicated above, the granite warms up quickly (not necessarily because of that dragon, to be honest) and secures that heat from the sun go deep in the soil. The roots grow deep, and feed from the clay and minerals from the granite decomposition. Yields are naturally low here. Due to the ripeness of the grapes in 2019, the fermentation was particularly slow for this wine, but it went on and on, and eventually the wine was bone dry after a 12 months fermentation.

Some keywords: Biodynamically farmed, handpicked, spontaneous fermentation, 16 months on lees and a total of 18 months on big old barrels.


Brand Grand Cru 2019 (Zind-Humbrecht)

Bright gold colour. The nose is discreet at first, but opens up with air. It shows citric notes (mature lime, towards clementine), but also a stony wet minerality associated with granite. has a granite wet stone aromas and begs for time. On the palate it is powerful and acidic, but also with some warmth behind there. It has a persistent aftertaste, already in balance and harmony, and a saline finish. This said, the wine is young and will reveal a lot more complexity over time. But it it’s now you must buy if you want to enjoy it in a few years.

Price: Medium/high

Food: We had prepared rather down-to-earth, Alsatian inspired food like pig cutlets and bratwurst, and red cheese (like the local Munster), but it tackles a lot of tasty dishes, both light meat and tasty fish. At this point food is almost essential, as we have mentioned, it’s very young.

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Kreydenweiss Crémant

Kreydenweiss is a leading light in biodynamic Alsace. They perform well in various styles, and you can find several of their wines on these pages. May I for instance bring your attention to this original orange wine. This time we shall talk about a really good economic sparkler, made with half and half of auxerrois and pinot blanc.

It was created by Marc’s son Antoine, who now runs the family estate.

2015 was a year with sparse rainfall, partly saved by some showers in August. They now another crémant, but this remains somehow an entry-level fizz with grapes supplied by their partners. The quality was good, and as opposed to the year before the grapes were completely without rot. Surprisingly, in spite of the hot summer, the wine retain very well the acidity. Because of the hot weather the grapes were low on nitrogen, that feeds the fermentation, so it took a great deal of patience before it started.

Crémant d’Alsace 2015 (Marc Kreydenweiss)

Light straw-coloured, gentle mousse. Aroma of white flowers, lime, white peach and yeasty biscuit. Fresh style, high acidity, still a bit honeyed and quite full in the mouth.

Price: Low

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Smooth Sylvaner

Fernand Engel’s office is located in Rorshwihr, but the domaine’s 160 hectares of vineyards are spread over 8 villages in Alsace. Here they can play with many different microclimates.

This wine is made from 100% sylvaner, almost 50 years old vines, handharvested. It’s spontaneously fermented and kept for 8 months on lees.

Renaissance Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes 2017 (Dom. Fernand Engel et Fils)

Light yellow with greenish hint.
Introvert at first, but the aroma opens with air and shows mature fruits, herbs and a nutty touch. Smooth, somewhat glyceric in the mouth (some 5g residual sugar), some citrus, herbs and crushed stone, and a good length.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, tasty fish and shellfish,  vegetables, try with Asian

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Alsace Grand Cru from Frick

Domaine Frick is an Alsace favourite, for their honest work, sustainable practises and the delicious fruit and the vineyard expression in their wines.

Here is a recent post where you can read a little about the background

This particular wine comes from a vineyard in Pfaffenheim on fossil ground with limestone and some red clay and gravel. It was planted in the 1970’s and 80’s. The grapes were harvested and selected by hand, spontaneously fermented and was subject to a week of skin-maceration. It was matured in big, old vats of French oak. No filtering nor fining. Biodynamic certified by Demeter, an organization that Frick in fact has done a lot to develop.

Vorbourg Alsace Grand Cru 2016 – pinot gris macération sans soufre ajouté (Dom. Pierre Frick)

Amber with red tones. Aromas of raspberry, yellow apples, fennel. Full on the palate, a light tannic grip, integrated acidity, and a salty finish. Vivid, energetic, and 15% alcohol is no problem. Needs air, and “grows” in the glass.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, such as poultry and pig, white and grilled fish, red fish, shellfish (stronger types such as crab), salads, fresh and mature cheeses. Very versatile, in other words

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Frick’s Gewürztraminer Macération

Jean-Pierre and Chantal Frick cultivate 12 hectares of vineyards in and around Pfaffenheim, Alsace. Since 1970 the domaine has been organically cultivated, and certified biodynamic since 1981. In fact Jean-Pierre has since long been a guiding light for others who want a sustainable approach to vinegrowing.

Since the beginning of the 80’s they have abandoned the use of additions, clarification and filtration, except for a small amount of sulphur before bottling for wines with residual sugar.

The Steinert vineyard was planted in the 1970’s on limestone, fossil ground and gravel. The fermentation was spontaneous, and the maceration lasted for around one week. Then the wine was aged in big vats of French oak.

Steinert Grand Cru Gewürztraminer Macération 2016 (Dom. Pierre Frick)

Light golden colour. Aromatic, hints of fennel, spices, roses and some tropics like mango and litchis. Quite fat in the mouth, intense, full-flavoured, bone dry, long, and just enough power and acidity to keep the 15% alcohol in check.

Price: Medium

Food: Light meat, seafood

Leave a Comment

Articles

The Wine Office II and III

Since my previous visit to Vinkontoret (the Wine Office, see here), a nice place to sample wines in Stavanger, Norway, one of the sommeliers has left. Christoffer Ingebretsen, formerly in charge of the restaurant at the town’ concert hall, is now alone. And he is busy, but he handles the crowd, and even remembers most of the wines I ordered two months ago.

Among them were Alsace Pinot Gris 2013 (J & A Ganevat): A Jura producer, but also with some negociant activities, like here, where they control the vineyards. A light yellow wine with aroma of yellow tomatoes, a little raisiny, waxy, and a touch of flor. Full, smooth and quite long.

Yesterday another Ganevat, Champs Poids Chardonnay 2014, a Côtes du Jura, was tested:

Back to my March visit, a Grand Cru Sommerberg Riesling 2009 (Albert Boxler), was fabulous: Deep yellow. Honeyed, waxy, and herbs on the nose. Full, smooth, and a great acidity contributes to the long finish.

This one was uncomplicated, yeasty and fresh, with a touch of peel and a limey acidity. Côme Isambert 2015 is a quaffable Saumur chenin blanc grown organically chalky, schisty soil and aged on the lees in big barrels. Côme doesn’t own the vineyards, but buys the grapes from four different growers and does the rest himself. Pure joy!

Next order: -It would have been nice with some red wine now. Christoffer: -OK, I’ll bring you some!

Asking for some red wine I was given this selection 

Clos Mogador of René Barbier is a wine I have followed through many years, here in the 2013 vintage. René here means both father and son. Taken the lead now has junior, who is married to Sara Pérez, that has exactly the same position in Mas Martinet, also in the municipality of Gratallops. Dark, slightly violet; dark fruits, blackberry, rosemary, and a cool freshness; full and warm in the mouth, lots of tannins and a nice minerality.

The rest in brief: Barolo Riserva “7 anni” 2008 (Franco Conterno): Some developed tones; red fruits, lickorice, underwood, mushroom; fresh acidity, evident tannins, but not aggressive. La Guiraude 2015 (Alain Graillot), Crozes-Hermitage. Red, violet hint; fresh aroma, still with youthful charm, red fruits, flowery; in the mouth young tannins, inspiring acidity. Côte Rotie 2010 (E. Guigal): Ruby red with developed tones; meaty aroma, forest berries, some sweet tones (toffee); round, full, well-balanced, maybe at its peak now, but I’m not sure if this is for me.

Worth mentioning from the last visit was also a barbera, La Scarpa La Bogliona 2008, a richly flavoured wine in good balance, with cherry and nuts, and a sweet & sour-like touch.

With the wines I ordered a cheese and charcuterie plate. The cheeses were Swiss, from Burgundy, La Mancha, and Lombardia, and of various styles.

Ok, the visits may seen as a bit of an of an impromptu character, but so what, this is a fascinating place with enough wine to follow your instincts, and many whites can go after a red. Each time at this office is a well worth, rewarding safari – and there’s not too much paperwork involved.

 

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Soft, slightly spicy white

Aiméstentz is based in Wettolsheim, central Alsace. This is a winery with a strong belief in their soils, and they encourage biodiversity in and around their vineyards.

Generally they keep their wines 6 months or more on fine lees. This particular wine underwent a 4-6 weeks fermentation at 16-20°C and 10 months ageing in big old oak vats.

20170402_181442-1

Pinot Blanc Réserve 2015 (Aiméstentz)

Straw-coloured. Aroma of yellow apples, slightly nutty and a touch of spices. Quite vinous, soften, clean and long taste with good balance acidity-residual sugar (around 5 g/L).

Price: Low

Food: Tasty shellfish, salads, white meat

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

A lovely dry Alsace riesling

This wine stood out in a wine club tasting of “rieslings of the world”.

The winery is located in the small village of Andlau, Alsace, between Strasbourg and Colmar – and the vineyards are also found in three neighbouring villages. Antoine Kreydenweiss is now both manager and oenologist. He inherited the biodynamic principles of his father, and is working the land together with his wife, his family – and his horse.

The climate could be described as continental, and there is a variety of terroirs in the area. The domaine covers today 13.5 hectares, among these four grand crus. Most of it is found on slopes and small hills with a south-southeast orientation. The soil is a veritable mosaic, including pink sandstone, granite, both grey and blue schist, sediment, and limestone, that -according to the producer- brings “finesse, minerality and freshness” to the wines.

The wines are typically fermented in big oak barrels (foudres), and ageing on the lees is carried out in all wines. The grapes for this Andlau wine was grown in sandy soil, pink sandstone from the Vosgue mountains, in a place perfect for riesling, according to Antoine Kreydenweiss.

 

Andlau Riesling 2015 (Marc Kreydenweiss)

Light golden. Aroma of mature apples, citrus, minerals and a touch of honey. Fresh and fruity in the mouth, a good level of acidity and a nice and dry finish.

Price: Low

Food: White fish, shellfish, rindwashed cheeses like Munster or goat cheeses, salads or light meat.

 

Leave a Comment

Wine of the Week

Another rich wine from Zind Humbrecht

Zind Humbrecht has for long been one of the leading lights for biodynamic wines, rich, fullbodied, yet balanced – and wonderful for the season that’s now approaching.

The company was set up by the Zind and Humbrecht families in 1959. Today it is represented by Olivier Humbrecht who sees himself in a father-to-son tradition that goes back to 1620. In total the domaine has 40 hectars under vine and has been biodynamic certified since 1991. Since 1992 it has been located just outside Turckheim, on the Colmar side.

They prefer long growing periods to achieve ripe and concentrated grapes, often with botrytis that gives sweet, exotic aromas. Fermentations are slow, and the minimum of time spent on lees is 6 months. The result are very impressive, intense, rich, alcoholic wines, often with residual sugar, that nonetheless keep the characteristics of their different vineyards. They will keep, and they will “dry up” after some years in the cellar. Last year I tasted the 1989 version of this week’s wine, a wine in excellent condition.

clos-jebsal Clos Jebsal

The Jebsal is one of the steepest vineyards in Alsace with a surface of 1.3 ha. south-exposed in the commune of Turckheim. It lies on grey marl limestone, rich in clay and gypsum, with numerous terraces. At a time abandoned and divided into many smaller plots, Leonard Humbrech managed to restore it in 1982. It was then planted with pinot gris, and the first vintage to be bottled was 1987.

Despite the ability to produce sweet, botrytised wines (in fact all vintages have been sweet, most often a vendange tardive) this vineyard also is the first in the domain to see flowering and véraison (the changing of colour, beginning of ripening), and thus produce wines often characterised by cool soils. The soil has a good water retention capacity and prevents stress, so it can yield wines with a natural balanced acidity.

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendange Tardive 2005 (Zind Humbrecht) 37,5 cl.

Yellow-gold colour. Aromas of orange, herbs, dried fruits, honey, and a touch of smoke. Very intense and (I would say) moderately sweet, but the acidity comes out after a while. A concentrated, flinty and very long aftertaste.

Price: High

 

Leave a Comment