Dec 24, 2012

Posted by in 1/2 Day Vacation, Articles | 0 Comments

Exploring France: Alsace

photo (17)I love exploring wines from regions around the world that grow varietals similar to those that are widely grown in my home state of Oregon. Aside from stellar world-class Pinot Noirs, Oregon has incredible Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Alsace, in France, is a region that is known for white wines similar to some of the white wines we have here in Oregon, so discovering the wines of Alsace is truly exciting for me – I love to compare the similarities and differences to those that I’m so familiar with.

France’s smallest region, Alsace, is in the mid to north-eastern portion of France, bordering Germany and Switzerland. Alsace is unique to other regions of France because of it’s dual French and German influences. The majority of the population speaks French, but with a German accent. German influences can also be found in the cuisine and the architecture. These influences, however, are not generally found in Alsatian wines – which take on their own flavors and styles.

photo (16)I recently tried an Alsatian Riesling and a Pinot Gris, and I was really impressed with their complex bright and vibrant flavors.

~ Léon Beyer 2010 Riesling ($17): I’ve had Riesling’s similar to this one in Oregon, and this is the style of Riesling I love best of all. Dry, fruity, fresh with lemon-lime zest. Aromas of Granny Smith apples and fresh cut limes with mineral overtones are followed through to the palate. A solid acidic backbone gives this Riesling a delicious zing of freshness, and the finish is clean and delightful. The Beyer’s have been wine growers in the Alsace region since 1580, and since 1867, when the Maison de Vin d’Alsace (the Alsace Wine House) was founded, the Beyer family has been producing wine as well as being wine growers.

photo (15)~Domaines Schlumberger 2009 Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés ($20): Although this Pinot Gris is quite different than the Pinot Gris’ found here in the Willamette Valley, it is really delicious and has an excellent depth of character. Without getting into the many details about Grand Cru wines, which can be read in detail by visiting The Wine Doctor’s Alsace Wine Guide, Domaines Schlumberger is the largest producer of Grand Cru wines in Alsace. Considered to produce very high quality wines with exceptional flavor concentration, I certainly won’t argue with that after tasting the Domaines Schlumberger ’09 Pinot Gris. Gorgeous, vibrant aromas of tropical fruits like oranges and pineapple are dominated by hints of earth and smoke. Fruit forward tropical flavors mellow out mid-palate while the finish is elegantly smooth and well balanced. I absolutely enjoyed this Pinot Gris.

This is only the beginning of my exploration of French wines, and beginning with Alsace was the perfect first step for me. Because I’m used to the varietals that are grown in Alsace, I wholly enjoyed identifying characteristics that are familiar, and not-so-familiar, to those same varietals that are grown here in Oregon. I’m looking forward to exploring more Alsatian wines – and more regions of France. It’s fun to compare and contrast wines from around the globe to my home state’s very own delicious and outstanding wines.

À la vôtre/à la tienne! Cheers!