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The loess soils of the Wagram are particularly favourable to Grüner Veltliner and this is another excellent example by Diwald. Very Highly Recommended.
This is a light gold colour, and bright. Aromas led by citrus, a touch of pepper. Zesty too on the palate as this light and lively wine spreads around. Light and thirst quenching yet also quite assertive. It has spent 8 months on lees.
Generally GrüVe is well paired with salads and vegetables and makes for a mouthwatering aperitif and importer Mary Pawle recommends serving this Diwald with scallops.
But the grape is very versatile. Terry Theise, in Reading Between the Wines, says GrüVe is a hugely important variety “both for its flavour and also for its usefulness”. It is “by far the most flexible dry white wine in the world at the table”. He concludes: “..once you encounter it, you may not be able to imagine life without it”. High praise indeed.
The Diwalds, long-time practitioners of organic wine-making, say Goldberg is one of the best single vineyards in the village. Terraces and hills which slope towards the Danube Valley and mighty loess ground build the foundation for the Goldberg wines. According to Martin Diwald, the goal is “to produce cheerful wines, in which the zest of the region and the philosophy of the vintner are united.” Reckon he scores with this one! As do his customers.
Jacques Frelin Pouilly-Fumé (AOP) 2017, 13%, €26.60 Mary Pawle
Minerality and elegance are head-lined on the back label of this organic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and they are indeed a notable part of the very pleasant experience.
Colour is a very light straw. Intense aromas (melon, pear/apple, honeysuckle notes). Lively fruit, the classic citrus in there too, lively acidity, that minerality and elegance, very refreshing and a good dry finish. Well made, well balanced. Excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
No need to say too much more. Mary Pawle recommends trying it with trout or salmon and also goat’s cheese. I’ve seen recommendations for pairing it with shellfish, spicy food, salads, pork, and light pasta dishes.
Karwig's Closing Down Sale Continues Three to look out for!
Rochebin Macon Lugny (AOP) Chardonnay 2018, 12.5%, Karwig Wines was 15.85, now 10.30…
Colour is a mid gold. Aromas of white fruit, floral notes too. Soft and rich on the palate, peach and melon flavours, rounded mouthfeel, fresh acidity too and a good finish. Very quaffable on its own and pairs well with: spiced tapas, charcuterie, white meats (chicken, veal) or seafood platters. Treat yourself - Highly Recommended.
Machard De Gramont “Dom. De La Vierge Romaine” Pinot Noir Bourgogne (AOC) 2017, 13%, €19.95 (prior to closing down sale) Karwigs
Aged in old oak for 13 months, this is an excellent Pinot Noir, full of character and well-priced even before news of Karwig’s closing-down sale broke.
Mid-ruby is the colour and it has a bright sheen. Aromas, with berries and cherries in the mix, are light and lovely. On the palate it is deliciously fruity, the merest touch of sweet spice, acidity enough, tannins barely noticeable with a decent finish. Elegant and fresh and Highly Recommended.
This has the VDP eagle displayed on the neck, “a guarantee of pure wine pleasure”, not a bad start. For many years the winery was a foundation for the benefit of the town of Eltville in the Hattenheim region. In 2003, it came back into private ownership.
Colour is a light straw with green tints. Citrus aromas with a touch of diesel. Lively and fruity on the palate, fading slowly to a dry finish. Highly Recommended.
“A real drinking pleasure” is how Le Caveau describe this Pinot Noir from New Zealand. They have been trying to source a Kiwi supplier for Pinot and Sauvignon Blanc for a while and reckon Pebble Dew is the answer.
It has one of the lightest red colours you’ll see, very close to rosé. The red fruit aromas are packed with promise. And the fruit delivers well on the palate, supple and juicy, right to the refreshing finalé, with a touch of tannin, evident on the top of the lips. It is a light and lively wine for summer, has a bit more going for it than the Sauvignon Blanc.Highly Recommended.
Colour of the Pebble Dew Sauvignon is a very light straw. Aromatic too with white stone fruit and lime in the mix. Gets more citrus-y on the palate, the lively fruit matched with acidity. Pleasant and easy drinking. Nice aperitif and should go well with seafood and salads. Recommended.
Château de Bastet “Aeris” Côtes du Rhone 2015, 13%, €15.20 Mary Pawle
Generally, white Côtes du Rhone have a clear and crisp appearance, with a floral and fruit bouquet and a well balanced palate. This “Aeris”, organic and biodynamic, certainly fits that description. Serve at 8 to 10 degrees and it is the perfect match to grilled fish, shellfish, fish stew and goat cheeses. Salad Nicoise too.
Château de Bastet decided to go biodynamic in 1997. This 2015 is a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Other white grapes permissible in the region are Clairette, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc too and Picpoul.
It is light straw in colour. And there is a nice mix of aromas, floral along with pear and peach. Smooth with good depth of flavour and a pleasant finish. Highly Recommended and, by the way, well priced.
Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet (AOP) 2018, 13%, €13.80 Mary Pawle
A dry white from the Languedoc region near the Med in the south of France. Mary Pawle tells me this grape, Picpoul de Pinet, is often referred to as the Muscadet of the South and is excellent with oysters and most shellfish. And that’s confirmed by the label recommending fruits de mer, coquillages et crustacés, with a serving temperature of 8 degrees.
It has a mid-yellow colour with green tints. Aromatic for sure - citrus, melon and floral. Rounded and abundant fruit flavour (lime, grapefruit), generous mouthfeel (close to creamy), a perky acidity and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.
Picpoul is the grape and Wine-Searcher says this Picpoul de Pinet is its most famous incarnation. “The variety's ability to keep its acidity even in a hot, Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect choice for the region, making taut, full-bodied white wines with herbal and citrus aromas.”
This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.
That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality.
Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red.
Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.
Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle
There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.
Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.
Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.
Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.
Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling (Rhinegau) 2017, 12%, €16.90 Karwig Wine
I’ve long been a fan of Carl Ehrhard’s wines. I met the man himself at a Ballymaloe wine event a few years back and there he described Riesling as “the most fantastic white variety”. This particular bottle is one of his everyday wines but an above average one, well priced too.
The Rheingau is the spiritual heart of German wine, the birthplace of Riesling, according to the World Atlas of Wine. The area in general is well known for its dry Rieslings - “full bodied with racy acidity”.
Colour is a light straw with greenish tints and you'll note micro bubbles clinging to the glass. Aromas are a gentle mix of apple and citrus, with the slightest hint of diesel. There is that trademark tingle on the palate. Intense fruit, now led by citrus, and that bracing and refreshing acidity combine well all the way to a long and satisfying finish. This dry wine is Very Highly Recommended.
Might be no harm, I say to myself, to get a few of these in for the summer evenings in the back garden. Perfect for aperitif and with seafood and Riesling is regularly recommended for Asian food. The vinification is directed towards preserving the natural fruit and, not for the first time, Mr Ehrhard succeeds. One of the most reliable winemakers.
We’re on a good thing here. I’ve given the 2013 vintage a big thumbs up in the past and this 2015 is also Very Highly Recommended. I have the guys at Grape and Wines “behind” me as the book lists Bourillon as a leading maker of Chenin Blanc and, in addition, lists this Coulée d’Argent as one of the top five classic dry Loire wines.
Chenin was first planted in the Loire in the 15th century and still the best Chenin wines come from here. Quite a range actually as the grape is used to make sparkling wines, dry wines, even sweet ones. But this one is dry, very dry, you’ll note the sec on the bottle. You’ll also see the words Vieilles Vignes (old vines) on the label.
It has a mid straw colour. Moderate aromas, with quince, apple and pear to the fore. On the palate, it is bone dry with mouthwateringly high acidity. That expected minerality is not shy either though it is moderated by the fruit and even a touch of sweetness. It has quite a strong character, the body having a little more heft than expected, and also an invigorating finish. It is made from those old vines and has been aged on its lees for six months. This bracingly dry Chenin Blanc, from what is regarded as the homeland of the variety, is excellent and Very Highly Recommended.
Domaine de la Fessardière“L’Air Innocent” Muscadet Sevre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2015, €18.65 Mary Pawle
Brittany Ferries opened the Cork-Roscoff route in 1978 and, for quite a few years afterwards, virtually every Cork driver visiting France got lost in Nantes. Happened to myself once and I ended up in the vineyards to the south-east of the city (not the worst of outcomes, quite recoverable). French roads have improved a lot since then and now most major cities, including Nantes, have either a rocade or a périphérique.
Like most early ferry travellers, we didn’t go too far in the first year or two, mainly to the south of Brittany around Concarneau, Guerande and Carnac. The supermarché (even the odd hyper) were the main attractions for the first (and last) few days of the hols with the male eyes concentrating on the bottom shelves and the bottles of Muscadet for less than punt! Got a lot of it then (also Gros Plant, even cheaper) and that cheap stuff put many off the fruit of the Melon de Bourgogne grape for years.
Bit by bit though we began to realise that two very important words on the bottle were Sur Lie, though only a year or two back the somm in a five star hotel in Kerry didn’t seem to know them. Glad to say that this bottle is Sur Lie (raised on lees) and is a splendid offering via Mary Pawle Wines.
It has indeed been kept on its lees for six months. Besides there is no added sulphur and the fruit has been hand-harvested.The grape variety is the normal Melon de Bourgogne and the vineyard follows organic methods.
Mary says it is round and unctuous in the mouth and a good match with seafood or a semi-soft cheese.In addition, the producers recommend “fish in sauce, poultry with the cream, cooked cheese like the county (Comté, I presume) or Cantal.”
The name of this round, fresh and fruity wine, “L’Air Innocent”, emphasises this closeness to nature. Colour is a very light straw, bright and healthy looking. The aromas, delicate and appealing, are of white fruit (apple). Apple flavours are somewhat stronger than the scents and there’s a touch of citrus too, also a refreshing acidity, a tingle of minerality as well, and it also has a pleasant long finish. Highly Recommended.
First sip and a pleasant surprise. Yellow fruit flavours lead to a very pleasing palate. Nice bit of acidity too and all combine in a lovely finalé. The colour is a pale straw. Aromas of peach and apple hint of good things to come. A decent wine at a decent price from a surprising source as I wouldn’t have thought of Sicily as a hotbed of Pinot Grigio.
Baudelaire’s cat may well have had“un dangereux parfum” but, while tempting, Chanudet’s La Cuvée du Chat has nothing of menace about it at all. Jean-Claude is highly regarded in organic and natural wine circles and this bottle shows exactly why.
One word you don’t see on the labels is Beaujolais even though this 100% Gamay comes mainly from the cru area of Morgon. Vin de table indeed! Some table wine for 23 euro.
Colour is the typical light ruby. Pleasant, even modest, aromas of cherry and raspberry. But, like the cat of the poem, it does have something of a sexy backbone. Life in the old cat yet, the fruit harvested from vines of 80 years old.
Superb soft and deep flavours, nice acidity too and a persistent finish. Eminently digestible, easy drinking, full of palatable pleasure and Very Highly Recommended. Sediment noted by the way so might be worthwhile decanting as young wines often are.
The label by Maurice Sinet (died 2016, aged 87) always brings a smile. He was better known as Siné and was a columnist for Charlie Hebdo.
The label is dominated by an octopus expelling ink. Not much else though two key words appear: trocken (dry) and Bio-Wein. Not much on the outside then but quality all the way inside this Austrian bottle.
Colour is ruby with a beautiful healthy sheen. Warm and fairly intense aromas (cherry mainly). Soft and juicy flavours (cherry, raspberry) envelop the palate, attractive spice notes too. This lovely wine has an excellent balance. Loads of character and very quaffable. Very Highly Recommended.
There was some sediment so probably best to decant. No big deal either way.
Ink is a fresh, juicy, vibrant and delicious blend of 80% Zweigelt and 20% St. Laurent. Both are traditional Austrian varieties and the former is the most widely planted red-wine grape in the country - by the way, most of wine-growing is done in the eastern part. Judith Beck is based in Burgenland and has produced wines in accordance with bio-dynamic principles since 2007.
Interestingly, St Laurent was one of the “parents” (the other was Blaufrankisch) when Zweigelt was created in 1922.
Anything goes in the fields of freedom, especially if you have two experienced conductors, well-known vigneron Hervé Souhaut and René-Jean Dard (Dard et Ribo), at the head of the fun. Here, they offer a “chillable and eminently gluggable blend of Gamay and Syrah”, an unusual blend that works to perfection.
It is a mid to dark ruby. Aromas are intense and intriguing, dark fruits and something too from those fields where the fat pigs roam. Dark fruit flavours too,berries and cherries, spice also. Gluggable juice yes but with an exceptional grippy finish.
With a name like Lard Des Choix, there are lots of tongue in (pig’s) cheek and puns of course in the notices of this wine, a newcomer to the Le Caveau range. The producers are certainly highly regarded, best known for their Rhone wines. This lively Ardèche number is Highly Recommended. (The verdict was not unanimous: CL gave it Very Highly Recommended).
Domaine Machard de Gramont Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune (AOC) 2012, 13%, €19.95 Karwig Wines
This elegant refined wine is a beauty from the high slopes of the southern Côte d’Or. Its colour is a very light red, even for a Pinot Noir. Delightful aromas of red berries (strawberry) welcome you. Fresh and smooth, more supple (muscle, if you like) than expected, more flavour than anticipated, velvety, comfortably compelling right through to the fabulous finalé. Very Highly Recommended.
The mainly red region of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is regarded as the poor relation of its lower altitude neighbour Cotes de Beaune. Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is more picturesque but its vineyards are cool and exposed, the fruit slow to ripen. Careful replanting (to face the sun) and a more traditional approach has paid off over the decades.
At their best, according to French Wines (1999), “these light wines are supple and fruity and offer good value for money”. This Gramont, with the emphasis on its fruit character rather than on its weight, is an excellent illustration as to how the gap between these Burgundy neighbours has closed and the current opinion seems to be that Hautes-Côtes de Beaune is now only slightly less prestigious than the neighbour!
Mas Cuvée Secrète, Merlot - Cabernet Franc, Pays D’Oc (IGP) 2017, 14%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Colour of this red blend is a dark ruby. Aromas are rich and jammy, black berries, plum, cassis. Fruity (black and red) again on the palate but beautifully restrained, fresh acidity too and a long pleasant finish. This well-made vibrant young wine is Highly Recommended. Good value too.
Jean-Claude Mas has been working on the “Cuvée Secrete” wines for seven years. This Organic Cuvée comes from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes with low yields. It had no added sulphur and offers great richness – a lovely wine from the Languedoc region which is the perfect match to grilled meat, pasta, cheeses and fruit tarts.
Merlot is widely credited with giving this opulent wine its complex flavours but the Cabernet Franc must be credited for the engaging Loire-like freshness.
The only grape used in this stunning champagne is the black Pinot Meunier, leaving both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the other regular champagne grapes) out of this particular equation.
It has an inviting eye-catching light gold colour - the bubbles look even better! Aromas are light and fruity (strawberry). Light fruit on the palate also, refreshing and well-rounded, well balanced with a lip-smacking long finish with typical brioche (biscuity, like Marietta!) aftertaste.
The vineyard is planted on the privileged Epernay soil; Epernay is the capital of Champagne and also a town of artistic and historical importance. And, yes,Granzamy do blends of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Here, a small number of growers are concentrating their efforts into bringing Pinot Meunier back into the limelight as a variety which produces quality Champagnes and not just a varietal to compliment a blend. Granzamy is one of those growers.
Akarua Brut NV, Central Otago (New Zealand), 13%, €43.99 Tindal Wine Merchants Limited, Baggot Street Wines, Searsons Wine Merchants,The Corkscrew, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants WINEONLINE.IE
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the grapes used here and, yes, it may be New Zealand but this is made in the Methode Traditionelle, that is the champagne way, and it spends a minimum of 18 months ageing on yeast lees.
A serious contender then with an inviting gold colour and very good small-bubble flow. Aromas are floral, savoury and that brioche is there too. It is almost creamy in the mouth followed by that long crisp brut (dry) finish.
Sparkling wines are a relatively new operation of the vineyard but already Akarua has been bringing in the medals, mainly gold. This Brut NV (non vintage) is a fine aperitif wine and is ideal for celebrating with friends whenever and wherever you get together, be it New Year’s Eve, birthday or anniversary, or Nollag na mBan! If using it as an aperitif (it was outstanding here on Christmas morning), don’t forget to provide some nibbles - these bubbles go to the head faster than still wine!
Here’s another lovely bottle of bubbles from O’Brien’s. This is from Australia and is a rosé. Again, it is made by the Traditional Method (same way as champagne) and is a blend of selected vintages, hence the NV.
Produced from Pinot Noir grapes, it comes in a gorgeous pastel salmon hue in which fountains of micro-bubbles constantly rise. There are delicate scents of strawberry and pomegranate. The palate is more intense than the nose, strawberry again and now cherry as well, and a pleasing refined finish and, along the way, you come across that bread-biscuit flavour. Another superb and delicious aperitif and, again, don’t forget those nibbles for yourself and your guests! Happy New Year.
Exquisite Collection Crémant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €12.00 Aldi
Got this Brut (dry) at the local Aldi. I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, again made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, is perfect for any celebration (big or small). It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, that hint of biscuit and a fine finish. Good price too, bubbles on a budget.
French sparkling wines made by the méthode champenoise but falling outside the boundaries of the Champagne region are termed Crémant. Grapes other than the traditional Champagne varieties may also be used.They are produced in many regions of the country including Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Limoux, Alsace, and the Rhone (known as Crémant de Die).
Three European wines from Karwig's, each from a different country and each highly recommended. Take a trip!
Domaine de la Potardière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine (AOC) Sur Lie 2017, 12%, €15.95 Karwig Wine
Holiday feeling on the Loire.
Back in the 80s, and maybe earlier, many Irish motoring tourists, most having gotten lost in pre-peripherique Nantes, were venturing no further south than Brittany, and were dipping their beer trained beer stained tongues in French wine, mostly Muscadet or the even more ghostly (or should that be ghastly) Gros Plant. Muscadet at less then a punt a bottle was a great wine while on the hols but not so good when you got it home. Unless it was Sur Lie, matured on its lees.
Now we know what to ask for and with Sur Lie you do have a better chance though some other Muscadets can be fine as well. Muscadet, we thought, was the grape. It’s not. The grape is Melon of Burgundy; the Loire region (near Nantes) in which it is grown is known as the Muscadet area but apparently Muscadet is not an actual geographic place.
This bottle from Karwig’s has just the merest yellow colour, aromas of white fruit, melon prominent. It is lively and fruity on the palate - that holiday feeling - time on the lees has added a certain creaminess; it is totally fresh, a good citrusy finish, overall very engaging and easy to give it the thumbs up. Highly Recommended. Bring on those fish platters in the Relais Routiers, even a DIY selection from Pat O’Connell.
Food pairing tips : Perfect accompaniment to oysters, seafood in general, fish, sushi.
This is not your normal Syrah but is a very interesting one. The vineyard says it has a lot of potential and will “definitely grow in the bottle”. They point out that the striking minerality comes from the red clay (terracotta) soils, the freshness from the proximity of the Atlantic. It is naturally stabilised so sediment is a possibility and they advise serving at ten to twelve degrees. New oak has been used here.
Colour is an intense ruby. Aromas of ripe plums, cherry, also vanilla notes. On the palate it is fresh and fruity, spice, smooth with youthful power, lively acidity and persistent in the finish. Would certainly like to try it in a few years. For now, this very interesting Syrah is Highly Recommended.
Gran Passione Rosso Veneto (IGT) 2016, 14%, €13.95 Karwig Wine
This is an Amarone type wine at an un-Amarone price. It is from the area around Venice and is a blend of Merlot (60%) and Corvina. Corvina is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines. The interesting thing here is that the grapes are naturally dried on vines for about 15 days. This process helps towards a more intense wine and that is the case here.
Colour is dark ruby. Very pleasant aromas of ripe fruits (cherry, plum), a touch of vanilla too. Velvety and concentrated black and red fruit flavours, mild spice and soft tannins, quite a long finish. Overall a rich and well-balanced palate and Highly Recommended.
Gitton de la Vigne du Taureau Sauvignon Blanc Couteaux du Giennois (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €19.50 Karwig Wines
Giennois is one of the lesser-known appellations in the Loire area, but it is just a few kilometres north of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. This crisp Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t let the neighbours down, far from it. It suits perfectly seafood and grilled fish, goats cheese too.
Colour is a light straw with green tints. It is moderately aromatic, white fruit, floral notes too and minerality. That distinctive minerality is immediately obvious on the palate where the excellent white fruit flavours (citrus prominent) combine well with a super acidity for a refreshing drop that also finishes well. Highly Recommended.
Diwald are regarded as pioneers of organic wine in the Wagram region and they interfere as little as possible in the cellar. Winemaker Martin Diwald has called this wine “a typical cheeky Riesling of the Wagram region". Just in case you were wondering, Fucksentanz, the name of the wine, translates as fox dance.
Colour is a light gold, bright and clear. There are rich and fairly complex aromas: pear and peach, notes of honey, floral too. There is a tingly sensation on introduction to the palate. The fruit is pure, outstandingly fresh with exuberant acidity, exquisite balance with a long lip-smacking finalé. Minerality and character help make this Highly Recommended.
Fiano and Malvasia are the grapes used to make this Italian white. Production is organic with “a strong propensity for innovation, sensitive to the environment, culture and knowledge” The wine has been vinified and aged in stainless steel.
Light straw is the colour. There is an interesting melange of scents, white fruit combined with herb and floral notes. It is smooth and fresh, excellent mouthfeel, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish, the fruit still going strong. Highly Recommended and good value too by the way.
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 meeta 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.
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.”