Sunday, April 16, 2017

Alsace is Primo for Pinot Blanc, Gris & Noir

Alsace is primo Pinot territory. Not just Pinot Noir, of course, but its related varieties Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc have long and heralded histories in this region. I recent tasted through a few Pinots from Alsace and, unsurprisingly, I found a lot to like. 

I love the vibrancy, tanginess and minerality of this wines. But, especially in the whites, there’s such enjoyable interplay between plump texture and rich fruit flavors. There’s always some level of difficulty determining
how sweet an Alsace white wine will be (demonstrated by the two Pinot Gris wines in this tasting). If it says “vendange tardive,” meaning late harvest, you know you’re in for some sugar. But, otherwise, determining sweetness isn’t easy unless you’re well versed in the producer’s style. 

What’s easy about Alsace is the fact that the grape varieties are generally listed right there on the front label, and the prices can be quite reasonable.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc - France, Alsace
SRP: $ 16
Light gold color. Smells like fresh limes and white peaches topped in crushed chalk, limestone and intense white and yellow flowers. Medium-bodied with brisk acidity and a pleasant, slightly honeyed texture. Tangerine and peach nectarine blend with chalk, saline, white pepper, cut flowers. Deep, lingering sense of minerals. Crisp but lots of flavor and texture. (90 points)

2014 François Baur Pinot Blanc Herrenweg - France, Alsace
SRP: $18
Light gold color. Pretty and rich on the nose with lemon curd, lemon oil and tangerine, also some crushed shells, floral perfume and vanilla potpourri. Deep texture with bright acidity. Complex, balanced, rich and honeyed but lip-smacking and vibrant. Apricots, lemons, orange marmalade, the fruit blends with spiced white tea and salted almond. Very long, impressive in depth and complexity. I’d love to see how this ages over the next three to five years. (90 points)

2014 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés - France, Alsace
SRP: $20
Light gold color. Nose of lemon curd, apricot, pineapple, notes of crushed shells. Plump texture with fresh acidity, just a hint of sweetness, and it all lines up in balance. Juicy fruit (apricot, orange, lemon curd), mineral water, quinine, mint and sea salt notes with elements of white flowers and clean laundry. Very delicious but also precise and age-worthy. Long, lasting, mineral-encrusted finish. 13.5% alcohol and about 7 g/l residual sugar. Pure Alsace Pinot Gris goodness. (90 points)

2010 Maurice Schoech Pinot Gris Mambourg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru
SRP: $30
Rich golden color. Smells like candle waxy, quinine, honeycomb, slight oxidative notes but woven in well with the bruised yellow apple and orange marmalade. Plump and richly textured with significant sweetness and moderate acidity. Flavors of apricots, orange marmalade, lemon pith, with notes of lamp oil and wax. Finishes with minerals and floral complexity. It seems a bit too sweet for my preference (40 g/l sugar) but quite nice. (87 points)

2014 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Noir Les Princes Abbés - France, Alsace
SRP: $26

Very pale ruby color. Smells bright and refreshing with pomegranate, sour cherry and wild strawberry along with pepper, mushroom and lots of roses. Medium-bodied with fresh, lip-smacking acidity and subtle tannic structure. Crisp, chilled red fruits mix well with earth, mushroom and rosebush notes. Bright, refreshing, open for business and near-term enjoyment. (88 point)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

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