Our lunch group deviated from its more preferred big and bold red wine theme for the 2nd month in a row in favour of doing wines from Alsace [last month was Loire]. It was refreshing to get some exposure to a region[s] not visited that often.
I did take notes on all 14 wines, but I’m only writing up a a few of those that were highlights for me, but first our menu:
Brazilian seafood stew with seabass, shrimp, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato, plantain, cilantro and coconut milk seared with white rice
Crispy dungeness crab taco with peach salsa, citrus dressing and guacamole
Vietnamese crepe made with coconut rice milk, stuffed with shrimp, pork and mushrooms, served with romaine, soba noodles, herb salad and Vietnamese sauce
Duck medallion wrapped in bacon and stuffed with carrot, onion and kalamata olives with honey balsamic glaze and carrot puree
Apple crisp with vanilla ice cream
Many of the top Alsatian producers were represented, some more than once. Most of the popular white varietals were poured including Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. We had one Pinot Noir which was a real treat.
My top wines of the day:
2013 DOMAINE ANDRE OSTERTAG BARRIQUES PINOT GRIS ALSACE- this came around early on and caught my attention as it morphed into wondrous things with time in the glass; I expected some minerals and petrol in the nose, but all it gave was upfront citrus notes, in particular, some lemon, lime and pear notes; more of the same arrived on the palate; toward the end came a rush of minerals and chalk; it was delicious, sensorially pleasing and bone dry.
Andre Ostertag ages his Pinot Gris for one year on the lees. Very little new oak is used and it has a very light toast. All used barrels come from the domaine and may be 1 year or up to 20 years old. The percentages of new oak used each vintage is relatively stable. For the Pinot Gris “Barriques”, it is 8%.
The name Ostertag means “Easter day,” and the family coat of arms shows the Easter lamb carrying a battle flag. This image was the inspiration for the estate’s logo of a sheep.
The images on the vins de fruit and vins de pierre labels are by André’s wife, Christine Colin-Ostertag.
2002 F E TRIMBACH CUVEE FREDERIC EMILE RIESLING ALSACE- following its yellow gold color came aromatics of some dusty minerals which transmuted into fresh lemon, grapefruit and apricot on the palate; it was rich and creamy and totally dry; it was mentioned this is made only in years deemed worthy of the best effort, but when I looked it up i found every year but 91` was released since 1984. This bottle was my fav of a nice vertical of 3 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Rieslings from 01`, 02` and 08`.
2009 MARCEL DEISS BURLENBERG LA COLLINE BRULEE ALSACE PREMIER CRU- mostly Pinot Noir; ruby red color; lovely floral and fruity nose which became ripe and pure red cherry/ berry to the taste; it had a smooth and soft texture and finished with an amazing array of spicy red fruit; one of a few Pinots I’ve had from Alsace and it was beautiful.
This release was first made in 75``. Blended in is some Pinot Beurot, a Burgundian clone of Pinot Gris which is a mutated clone of Pinot Noir, and is genetically similar to it other than in color.
The word pinot means pine cone, probably a reference to the pine cone shape of its bunches.
There were many other wonderful wines such as a 94` Zind-Humbrecht Heimbourg Gewürztraminer paired with a 94` Zind-Humbrecht Los Saint Urbain Rangen de Thann Pinot Gris, but the last one I`ll review was also the oldest on the day:
1981 HUGEL & FILS SELECTION de GRAINS NOBLES GEWURZTRAMINER ALSACE- served with the 2 94` ZHs and a 94` Marcel Deiss Selction de Grains Nobles Gewürztraminer, this shined above and beyond the other 3 that were superb in their own right; it had amazing balance with elegance and class and surprisingly to me, it was just medium bodied and in no way cloyingly sweet; my first nose and sip said this is so Sauternes like in the fruit and taste profile; it had honeyed apple, apricot and pear notes with a streak of honeysuckle throughout and some zesty acidity as well.
Hugel is a family operation that has been making wines since 1639; production is currently managed by the eleventh and twelfth generations.
Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives wines are produced from overripened grapes, harvested much later than traditional grape harvests and only during the most prolific vintage years. It is the so-called noble rot that gives this wine its almost indefinite aging potential. Because of its rarity this wine is the emblem of the Hugel family domaines.