Alsace is located in northeast France near the German border, the food and wine of the region are heavily influenced by both cultures. The Vosges Mountains protect the region from rain and winds resulting in a cool, yet dry and sunny, continental climate. The soils are quite varied which influence the diversity of grape varieties planted and, therefore, the range of wine styles produced. Only four grape varieties, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Gerwurztraminer, can be used in Alsatian Grand Cru and dessert wines but many other varieties are planted and used in the Alsace AOC and the Cremant d'Alsace AOC designations.
As I review my notes from some recent tastings, I think that one of the most important things for consumers to know about the wines of Alsace is that most are meant to be consumed 6 months to 5 years from their release.
2007 Trimbach Pinot Blanc (approx $15)
Clear, pale lemon color. Clean, low intensity lemon aroma. Dry, medium- body, acidity and alcohol, lacking any flavor. Quality: Past its prime.
(Pinot Blanc, a genetic mutation of Pinot Gris, is primarily used in Cremant production.)
2001 Trimbach Pinot Gris (approx $18)
Clear, medium lemon color. Quality: Flawed/Corked.
2006 Trimbach Gewurztraminer (approx $20)
Clear, deep lemon yellow going to gold. Clean, medium intense, developing aromas of roses, lychee and clove. Dry, full body, medium- acidity, medium alcohol with a somewhat diluted tropical/pineapple flavor and a medium length finish. Good quality/drink now.
2007 Marc Kreydenweiss Val d'Eleon (approx $18)
50% Riesling / 50% Pinot Gris
Clear, deep lemon yellow going to gold. Quality: Flawed-Past its prime, volatile acidity-smells like ketchup that has gone bad.
2009 Charles Baur Pinot Gris ($18 at French Country Wines in Houston)
Clear, pale lemon. Clean, medium- intense, youthful aromas of peach/nectarine with some flint. Dry, medium body, medium+ acidity and alcohol with flavors of peach, citrus and apple with a medium length finish. Good quality/drink now.
2009 Charles Baur d'Alsace Grand Cru Riesling ($27 at French Country Wines in Houston)
Clear, pale lemon. Clean, medium intense, developing aromas of peach, pear, honey with a bit of a floral/honeysuckle note. Off-dry, medium body, acidity and alcohol with the flavors mirroring the aromas with the addition of pineapple, almost fruit cocktail-like in the medium+ length finish. Quality: Very good/drink now, has some aging potential.
1999 Schlumberger Selection de Grains Nobles Riesling
Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace NV