WINES of Alsace, France
Few wine regions can claim pure expression: Alsace is an exception. Why? Alsace has a truly exceptional setting for making wine. Protected by the Vosges Mountains, this picturesque region is singularly blessed with enviable conditions: ancient soils, noble grapes and an extraordinary climate – one of the driest in France. Thirteen distinct territories make Alsace a mosaic unlike anywhere else. Here, minerality and freshness aren’t just concepts, they are the story of the wines.
Hugel Gentil $6 / $20
The perfect introduction to Alsace wines as it combines the qualities of all our white varietals. This wine revives an ancient Alsace tradition that wines assembled from noble grape varieties were called “Gentil”. Gentil “Hugel” allies the suave, spicy flavour of Gewurztraminer, the body of Pinot Gris, the finesse of Riesling, the grapiness of Muscat and the refreshing character of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. A kaleidoscope of grapiness, produced exclusively from hand harvested grapes in predominantly clay and limestone vineyards, from a dozen of the most favored localities in and around Riquewihr. A cool and long growing season gives this unique dry wine great finesse and unequalled drinkability. The aroma hits the nose with a powerful fruitiness filled with the scent of youthful springtime and a flavor melts and charms on the taste-buds. This is an ideal thirst-quencher; serve immediately although, thanks to its perfect and harmonious structure, there is a potential improvement to be had from laying it down for 3 to 5 years. An ideal wine for aperitifs, serve at 8°C. Oysters, shellfish, seafood, raw fish, sushi or marinated, Carpaccio of langoustines, scallops, grilled fish in light or slightly creamy sauces. Ideal with lightly spiced oriental, Indian, Moroccan, Mexican dishes; or serve with white meat: veal, pork and poultry, partridge, pheasant.
Hugel Pinot Blanc $6.5 / $22
It is the most approachable wine of Alsace and also the most consistent year in year out. Not far in style from an unoaked Chardonnay such as a Macon or Chablis. This wine has a very youthful colour, fresh and crystalline with a shimmering pale pastel green colour and silvery highlights. With hints of springtime, pistachio and verbena leaves. Very pleasant, smooth and tender legs It has a very precise, refreshing, open and expressive nose, enriched with a sound and lively aroma; there is an agreeable and harmonious approach with the fruity spontaneity of green apples, white peaches, lemon balm and spring flowers. On the palate it is a well-balanced and pleasant dry wine which is also fresh, refreshing, and pleasingly well-rounded with a pleasantly smooth and full structure which begs to be enjoyed, and leaves a nice, fruity and well stated after-taste. An excellent wine which successfully presents the qualities of a largely underestimated grape variety. It should be enjoyed during its sparkling youth and will also be magnificent if laid down for 3 to 5 years. This is really a full-flavored, well-made and precise wine. Best served at 8°C; ideal for aperitifs. A perfect opening wine when served at the start of a meal. Best served with sea and fresh-water fish, preferably grilled, in sauce, smoked, marinated or at the start of a meal, with asparagus, Mackerel in aspic, seafood platters, goat or sheep cheese or simply enjoyed as a pleasant, easy to drink white wine.
Hugel Pinot Gris $8 / $29
A very fresh yellow, pale green with dominant hints of green with lighter hints of the pale yellow of lime trees in spring, some silver, crystalline highlights, a pleasant energetic sheen, full and lively legs. The aroma is still a bit restrained and serious but with the fresh, clear, precise and well stated fruitiness of lime, fresh kiwi, lemongrass, gooseberry, fresh moss and a lightly mineral flinty nuance. On the palate this is a dry, refreshing and lively wine with a pleasant sense of tension and vivacity which enlivens the palate, it’s rounded and full flavor amply quenches the thirst. Ideal served now as an aperitif for those who appreciate the vivacity and tension of a truly classic Riesling, or served with seafood, fresh shellfish, fish Carpaccio, king prawns, cold cuts or a quiche Lorraine. Smoked fish, eel, bacon, smoked or dried ham. Perfect for laying down for 1 to 4 years. Best served at 8°C. After a few years it could be served with turbot, sea bass, monk-fish, lobster, king prawns, seafood, sander, pike, salmon, scallops, marinated or raw fish Carpaccio, goat’s cheese.
Meyer Fonne Edelzwicker $8 / $29
Though Alsace is best known for its stunning varietal wines, the Edelzwicker is a notable exception. These “noble blends” may contain any combination of the region’s numerous permitted white grape varieties—in this case, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Chasselas, and Riesling make up the mix. Unlike many wines from nearby Germany, which often have a touch of residual sweetness, Alsace prides itself on its dry wines, and here is a great example. Delicate, floral, and highly aromatic, Félix Meyer’s Edelzwicker is an insider’s ticket to the wonders of Alsace at bargain cost. It is above all a vin de Plaisir, offering abundant fruit and freshness with a frisky, stony finish that makes it incredibly versatile with food. Traditional Alsatian cuisine is an obvious match, but the possibilities are endless: salads, charcuterie, goat cheese, and Southeast Asian dishes all have a place alongside this Edelzwicker. Its capacity to quench one’s thirst and charm the senses makes the one-liter bottle all the more logical.
Kuentz Bas Riesling $7 / $24
Kuentz-Bas bottles under two labels. The Cuvee Tradition wines are made from grapes that they purchase. They are vinified in glass-lined tanks to preserve fruit and freshness, and are intended for foudres, and bottled approximately a year following the vintage. The family also has three Grand Cru vineyards, Pfersigberg, Eichberg and Florimont. This Riesling shows great varietal character and regional typicity. Bone-dry on the palate, it features intense, clean aromas with excellent minerality. It showcases what well-made Riesling from Alsace can taste like. While it makes for a delicious aperitif, this wine truly shines at table—you’ll find it marries with anything from traditional Alsatian fare to more creative and exotic dishes, with wonderful results.
Ostertag Pinot Noir $12 / $45
This wine is the result of the assembly of 3 small vineyards grown in Biodynamie, located on the plateau overlooking the village of Epfig. The soils are based on a sandstone bedrock, with a greater or lesser presence of clay depending on the area. At the Domaine, the biggest efforts are made in the vineyard and for the pinot André Ostertag is particularly attentive because the difficulty here is never in obtaining the natural degrees but in obtaining ripe tannins! Certified in organic and biodynamic agriculture. The Pinot Noir grapes are 100% de-stemmed for both cuvées. Fermentation lasts about ten days with a daily pumpovers. The Pinot Noir Les Jardins ages in stainless steel tanks for 9 months and the Pinot Noir “Fronholz” ages in old barrels for a year. Fleshy red and black cherry aromas set the tone on the nose. The palate adds lots of freshness that is toned down by strucutre. Fine tannins add grip but this is all about hedonistic fruit with a clean, grippy finish.