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Domaine Ostertag 2016 Les Jardins Pinot Noir, Vin D’Alsace

28 Dec

Domaine Ostertag 2016 Les Jardins Pinot Noir, Alsace, France. 12.5% ABV, SRP $27/bottle (sample).

Color is ruby with magenta edging, slightly opaque from no filtration. The nose is a blend of red fruit: black cherry with plum and a hint of young raspberry. Aromas of eucalyptus and gravel entice the first sip. On the palate: black and red cherry battle for the forefront, strong clay influence is secondary. followed by notes of brettanomyces and smoky dust. A long, lingering finish atop a column of red fruit: exquisite with defined tannins, showing refinement and balance in the structure, and leaving a strong send of appreciation in the wake.

This is a #winelover’s wine; a geeky wine delight; an oenophile’s treasure.

 

In spite of wanting to savor the aromas of this wine slowly for a week, instead I paired the bottle nicely with roast turkey breast, Japanese sashimi, and orrichette with broccoli rabe over several days. The mixture maintained solid structure and linearity throughout from simply re-corking and refrigeration.

 

If you like the unusual pinot that screams of terroir and shows character in biodynamic and organic approach, this is an excellent wine for you!  It will complement and pair to your heart’s content while having a unique attitude and position- unlike other pinot noirs you have tasted and forgotten. Once you have spent some time with the wines, Vin D’Alsace will never let you go entirely.

You’ll be hash tagging #DrinkAlsace before you know it.

#DrinkAlsace

à votre santé!

Gewurztraminer: Alsace and Warm Weather Pairings

21 Sep

Through summer and fall, Gewurztraminer wines from d’Alsace can be the perfect companion for transitioning seasons, perhaps even more with late summer’s outdoor events of festivals, fairs, and concerts.

What’s not to love, with a wine that can rock the heat of summer, or the insane depths of winter?

I mixed and matched these wines for a series of weeks to pair with a bevy of spicy, warm-weather dishes.

 

Beck-Hartweg Dambach-La-Ville Gewuztraminer 2016, Alsace, France. 13%ABV, SRP$20/bottle

Pale straw in color. The nose has a pear and dried apricot with distinctive notes of clove and gunpowder. Superbly dry with a floral mouthfeel followed by fresh ginger note on the finish. On my initial tasting, this wine paired easily with a summer salad of mixed greens with chicken breast, sliced almonds, grape tomatoes, red onion, fresh sweet peas and slices of tangerine. Several subsequent pairings worked nicely with turkey and a chutney sauce, Indian curry, and Asian stir-fry.

 

Gustav Lorentz Gewuztraminer Réserve 2016. Alsace, France.  13.5% ABV, SRP $24/bottle.

Color is an off-clear translucent with a nose of fresh rose petals. On the palate, lychee, fresh pear and citrus are subdued by delightful floral characteristics, showing notes of lilac, african violet, and green cuttings. This is a glamorous wine with a sense of prestige when it hits the mouth. This reserve gewurztraminer goes down so easily you’ll be eager for the second bottle! But beyond drinking delightfully by itself, it pairs SO easily with any kind of summer fare, from American BBQ to spicy Mexican, from Spanish Tapas to grilled seafood.

 

 

 

 

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Calcaire 2016, Alsace, France. 13.5% ABV, $43/bottle SRP

Color is medium straw.  Lychee, tangerine zest and mango on the nose. Very dry on the palate, heat surges across the back palate, sweet nose wafts up while pear drives the fruit home. Lovely mineral finish with sodium and calcium notes. 

18 months in aged French oak, 30 year old vines. This is a gorgeous wine that punches far beyond its price and weight class. One of my favorite pairing meals was grilled flounder served with a spicy habanero chutney.Total perfection: Italian bruschetta: toasted baguette rubbed with raw garlic, coated with diced plum tomatoes that have been tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, topped with a fresh basil leaf. By the same token, NY’s “grandma” pizza which has a zestier sauce, a thinner and crisper dough on the square crust, sometimes a touch more sauce ladled on to of the fresh mozzarella.

 

 

 

 

Each of these wines stayed true with a post-meal cheese course, cleansing the palate beautifully for delicate goat cheese, gouda, and a soft blue.

Shocking surprise pairing #1: barbecued pineapple with grilled meat. Whether you grill beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or a combination- the citrus of the gewurztraminer will enhance the sweetness of the grilled fruit (peach and pineapple are my personal favorite) along with the smoke and char on the meat. Simple citrus marinades are your friend here!

Shocking surprise pairing #2: spicy chicken wings and hot chicken strips. Do you like teriyaki or buffalo wings? Anything with Frank’s Hot Sauce deserves a splash of Alsace Gewurztraminer to pair!

But just don’t take my word for it- get your hands on some Vins d’Alsace and share your thoughts with us!

#AlsaceRocks My 50th Birthday

21 Jul

You turn 50 once. I thought it would be no big deal, but in retrospect, it feels like so much more important than turning 40 did. My birthday week was full of shows and long hours at work, and arrived at the end of June, which happened to be a month of #AlsaceRocks promotions! So when I finally got a chance to sit down, I treated myself to two bottles of Crémant D’Alsace that became an awesome birthday present!

 

Jean-Baptiste Adam Crémant d’Alsace “Emotion” Brut Reserve, Alsace, France. ABV 12%; SRP $22/bottle.

 

Color is a pale gold, with a nose of brioche. The palate is apple, young pear and citrus; the mouthfeel is a medium-bodied rich texture with moderate, delicate bubbles. Comprised of 95% chardonnay grapes and 5% pinot noir, primary fermentation takes place in hundred-year-old wooden barrels and the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. Aged on the lees for nine months prior to disgorgement. This drinks like a champagne at more than twice the price. I was highly impressed at the quality and value of this bottle, but wanted to get a layman’s opinion of the wine. 

 

 

My next-door neighbor Lori was home, and we sat on the front step and enjoyed a glass of this to celebrate the week, that our kids were home, and because we deserved it. Lori admits she doesn’t know a lot about wine, but she knows what she likes, and she has a huge fan of the high-end white Burgundy that is my personal cocaine- so I consider her an excellent, non-professional barometer, and I asked her opinion. Lori thought it was important to note that it is both elegant and fun to drink, how nice and dry the Adam crémant is, and that she really likes the combination of apple and vanilla flavors it exhibits. After another sip, she admitted that while she loves bubbles, she’s didn’t like Champagnes as much as this, which exhibited more character and style. I’d call that a HUGE win, and solid agreement on my loving this bottle, and wanting more from Jean-Baptiste Adam!

 

 

 

Maison Willm Crémant d’Alsace, Blanc de Noirs, Alsace, France. 12% ABV, SRP $22/bottle- seen locally as low as $16/bottle, street price.

Color is pale gold. A delicate nose of green apple with effervescence, while on the palate: lemon citrus, young pear, with refined bubbles that create a silky, gossamer mouthfeel. A tiny hint of bitters with a lovely and succinctly tart finish. I could drink this all day long and nearly refused to jot down tasting notes (as you see, I relented). This delightful wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, which are softly pressed and separated from the skins quickly to refrain from exacting color from the grapes. This is a classic and harmonious representation of Alsace and is a delightful sparkling wine.  

 

 

 

So, if you have to have an iconic birthday, ok, really,  if you need any reason to celebrate, or if you just deserve a treat, seek out Crémant D’Alsace and taste it- I expect you will be shocked and amazed that these taste like single-vineyard Champagne at a fraction of the cost. Whether you prefer the Chardonnay or Pinot Noir versions- both are SO delicious-  I know that you, too, will agree that #AlsaceRocks! 

 

à votre santé!

How Dry Is Alsace? Cuvée René Dopff Riesling

20 Jul

Dopff & Irion ‘Cuvée René Dopff’ Riesling 2015 Vin D’Alsace, Pfaffenheim, France. ABV 12%; MSRP $17/bottle.

 

Color is medium straw; the nose is floral blend of tulip, iris, and sweet honeysuckle. But the sweetness stops on the nose. On the palate, this is so deliciously dry! Gorgeous white peach, youthful pear and white stone fruits, with lively, flowing acidity, hint of almond, beautiful minerality, nary a hint of wood, but a tiny note of lemon peel on the finish.  This is so beautifully dry, such balanced flavor and acidity. It is never over the top; every sip is a mature, reserved, solid mouthfeel that makes me want another.

 

As for pairing, Cuvée René Dopff Reisling demonstrates how extremely flexible it is, coupling with  both high acid and rich, savory dishes. Baked goat cheese, bruschetta, and spinach bourekas in phyllo dough were great matches! It’s an obvious home run pairing for shellfish, raw or crudo, from sashimi to mussels to baked fish or delicate entrees. On a lark, I tried it with a beef stew my wife and I made; I assumed (incorrectly) that it would not be able to stand up to the powerful flavors of red meat. It turns out that the high acidity was a great choice with the huge number of vegetables in the stew, some sweet and some bitter, and could cleanse the palate while matching up with the various flavor profiles and make for a solid pairing.

 

I’m a fan of Alsace, and this wine is a perfect example of why: this wine is entirely hand-picked and sorted, pressed at low pressure, matured on the lees for four months before filtering, treated with such love, care and devotion- and it shows! This screams of the terroir of Alsace, of the brilliant, war-torn soils, the mineral layers, the subtle fruit profile, and of gentle, caring handling. And at this price, what’s not to love? Under $20 a bottle for a wine that is so beautifully demonstrative of the region and made by hand in one of the adored regions of France? Back up the truck, I need more than a few cases.

 

 

à votre santé!!

Dopff & Irion Grand Cru Vorbourg 2009 Pinot Gris

28 Jun

Dopff & Irion Grand Cru Vorbourg 2009 Pinot Gris by Chateau de Riquewihr; AOC Alsace, Riquewihr, France. 14.5% ABV, MSRP $30/bottle.

Color is clear, golden sunshine. The nose offers grilled pineapple, toasted almond, and clover honey. A complex palate features mature Anjou pear, citrus,  honeysuckle, limestone and clay. An initial note of honey hits the palate early and disappears, secondary notes of sweet lime zest, marzipan, and minerals linger behind with a touch of heat across the top palate, a result of the higher alcohol on this wine. Refrigerated after opening, this bottle showed consistent notes with little shift in profile over five days. FIVE DAYS!  The gentle age on this is impressive, and the wine tastes capable of aging for another half century for those who would cellar properly.

 

Make no mistake, this is a wine that I’d be so happy to sit in the backyard and drink all afternoon long while chatting up my neighbors, but the hidden power here is in food pairing. There is plenty of acidity to drink this alongside raw fish, crudo and vegetables, as a matter of fact, I think this wine would be extraordinary for sashimi pairings. In the realm of cooked fowl, fish, salads, and vegetarian dishes, this pinot gris is ideal; while also capable of handling exotic flavors- Chinese and Japanese cuisine, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Peruvian foods.

 

 

This bottle offers history and respect before you even consider popping the cork: it is a Grand Cru wine from ancient soils and an insanely dry climate, that consequently provides complex, direct, and mineral expression. But open and enjoy it, and that thought automatically gains weight. The fact that I can purchase this for $30 is mind-blowing, compared to how hard I have to work to find a chardonnay at the same price point that is this wine’s equal, when I could easily count off chardonnays at double the price that could handle the job.

And why do we reach for Alsace wines when the weather is warmer? There’s really no question as far as how refreshing and expressive the wines are. But why we don’t automatically drink them all year long really mystifies me, perhaps it is how well I enjoy pairing Alsatian wines with food that is closer to the equator. The more I ponder it, the less it makes sense, as in Strasbourg I recall the cabbage, white sausages, tarte a l’oignon, meat pies and hearty casseroles served with these delightful white wines.   I will challenge myself to return to these during the brittle cold of winter and try tasting them again! I expect a similar level of pleasure, but I will have to wait and see if that is true.

This is a bottle worth picking up and enjoying, whether you drink it alone or pair it with food. Then you’ll consider when to pick up more and when to enjoy it next.

 

I need to hear from you, Dear readers! What do YOU like to pair with your wines from Alsace? Let me know! 

 

à votre santé!

 

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