Two Grand Crus from Alsace
Alsace, in north eastern France, has 51 Grand Crus. The system, and not everyone there agrees with it, is terroir based and allows (mostly) just one varietal per wine. So in the pair below, we have Riesling on its own and Pinot Gris also on its own.
The area has never been reluctant to blend though and one such to watch out for is Gentil. Most wine producers have a Gentil in their portfolio. It is a blend of most of their varieties and the Alsatians are quite proud of it. They have to meet a high standard to qualify and Gentils are often reasonably priced. Try Trimbach, Hugel and Meyer-Fonné for a start - it is a very cool introduction to the Alsace wines.
Riesling, used for dry and sweet wines in the general Alsace area, is the king here and the Alsatians are extremely proud of it. And indeed, unusually for France, you will see the grape name (not just Riesling) mentioned on the bottle label. Chateau D’Orschwihr is in the extreme south of the region as are the Grand Crus Kitterlé and Pfingstberg.
Chateau D’Orschwihr Grand Cru Kitterlé Riesling 2008, 12.6%, Karwig Wines.
Yellow going on gold is the colour of this old-stager! Intense nose, the expected petrol aromas almost camouflaged by the fruit. Exuberant on the palate, fruit flavours, minerality and excellent acidity, all in perfect harmony up to and through the long lip-smacking finish, a finish that lingers. Very Highly Recommended. A power packed wine and should go well with spicy Asian dishes, so often recommended for the grape.
It is not often you see Vin Non Chaptalisé (no added sugar) on the label. The practice is still permitted, mostly in northern countries, including in France and Germany, where grapes are produced with low sugar content. It is forbidden in California but producers there can add grape concentrate. Acidification is the other side of the coin. Read more here.
Chateau D’Orschwihr Grand Cru Pfingstberg Pinot Gris 2013, 13.5%, Karwig Wines.
Colour is a mid straw. A fruity nose, hints of spice. Rounded, rich and complex, the merest touch of sweetness, with a very pleasant mouthfeel. Nicely balanced, without the minerality of the Riesling. An easy drinking yet compelling wine, well made, quite elegant and Very Highly Recommended.
Pinot Gris, you’ll read, takes the middle path between “acidic” Riesling and “possibly over-sweet’ Gewürztraminer, and this is certainly the case here. Praise too for the Alsace Pinot Gris, from the World Atlas of Wine: “..the fullest-bodied but least perfumed wine of the region; at table it offers a realistic alternative to a white Burgundy.”