My 1/2 Day Vacation ~ Alsace Part I: Pinot Blanc
I am absolutely falling in love with the wines of Alsace, France. From Riesling and Crémant d’Alsace (sparkling) to Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, the wines from this region have several common characteristics: beautifully balanced acidity and un-manipulated varietal aromas and flavors.
Alsace is known as the Germanic region of France, sharing borders with Germany and the German speaking region of Switzerland. Many people in Alsace, of all generations, speak and understand the Alsacian language, a colloquial form of German – much like the German spoken in nearby Switzerland. Because of its German influence, Alsace is much different than any other region of France with its brightly colored and half-timbered architecture that is so often associated with Germany. Alsace is well-known for their Kronenbourg beer, sauerkraut and an array of white wines (which are traditionally German wines), like Riesling, Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer most famously; as well as, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Crémant d’Alsace. (via about-france.com)
I’ve recently had an opportunity to sample several Pinot Gris’, Crémant d’Alsace and Pinot Blancs – all being quite impressive. Starting with Pinot Blancs (as Part I of a three part Alsace 1/2 Day Vacation), the crisp, balanced acidity and beautiful pure fruit flavors were expressed without a hitch in these three wines from different producers in the Alsace wine region.
Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc d’Alsace 2010 ($15): Alluring floral aromas with hints of Granny Smith apples and light spices flow on to the palate with a rich and creamy texture (from maturing on the lees for 6-9 months). Lush fruit, light minerality and rounded acidity create a lovely dry, lingering finish. I was recently in Seattle and tried a stellar seafood chowder from Pike Place Chowder – I thought about this wine…thinking it would be a match made in heaven with the creamy, briny soup.
Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés Alsace 2011 ($15): Domaines Schlumberger is the largest Grand Crus producer in Alsace, and all of their wine is made from estate fruit from their 300 acres. Established in 1810, the devoted Schlumberger family have been farming the vineyards with, “passion, dedication and respect to the environment.” Melon and pears on the nose with added nutty undertones, this Pinot Blanc had the kind of acidity I love – intense and mouthwatering. A great depth of character revealed a rich and complex wine that is down-right delicious, and it ends with a crisp, freshness. Thinking again back to my recent trip to Seattle, the smoked salmon I sampled at Pike Place Market would be outstanding with the Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc.
Hugel Pinot Blanc “Cuvée Les Amours” 2009, SRP ($15): Similar in aromas and flavors as the Schlumberger, the pear and melon notes were highlighted by nutty characteristics. A bit more subtle on the palate, the soft acidity rounded out the fruit flavors nicely, and the finish had a tiny bit of sweetness followed by a shot of lemon zest. Thinking back to Seattle yet once again (Seattle is a foodie haven), I had an excellent eggs benedict for breakfast one morning that would be heavenly paired with the Hugel; in fact, I think it would pair perfectly with any egg dish. Who says wine can’t be enjoyed at breakfast? Definitely not me.
With my continued impression of the quality wines being produced in Alsace (where white wines with high acidity tend to steal my heart), I think this will need to be a future destination for me – I have a feeling this would most certainly be my kind of place.
Note: these wines were sent to me for review purposes.