Tag Archives: Alsace

To all of you dedicated winemakers

Thank you for the great wines, the ones we’re drinking
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing

ABBA’s Bjoern Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson said thank you for the music. I can’t resist using the same phrases to praise the great wines. 

The great wines are the ones that speak to our innermost being and give us so much pleasure. And besides the sensational experiences that tickle nose and palate, we get wonderful moments together with friends who share the same fascination. And who should we thank? 

Well, I want to thank all the dedicated people behind the great wines. The people who invest their heart and soul into the art of making beautiful wines. Those who have an idea and work hard to fulfil it. And it is we, wine lovers all around the world, who can enjoy the fruits of their hard work. 

For someone new to the world of wine, it can be hard to realise how much effort that lies behind every bottle of great wine. The many hours of meticulous, often manual, work put into the vineyard. Caring for each vine, guarding it from every kind of threat and keeping the yield down by sacrificing some of the grapes to the earth. All with the goal to get healthy grapes, full of flavour, which in the winemaking process will give wines of concentration and complexity. Wines that reflect their birthplace, the terroir. 

This weekend gave an opportunity to taste some of these treasures. Not the most expensive ones, oh no. But affordable great wines that after some years in the cellar gives us a real treat. I am so grateful to all you dedicated winemakers who made this possible. 

So thank you Jean-Michel Deiss, for the Domaine Marcel Deiss Engelgarten 2003. For advocating terroir and making a perfect Alsatian blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Beurot, Muscat and Pinot Noir. And thanks to Deiss’ neighbour in Bergheim, Georges Lorentz, for the wonderful Gustave Lorentz Altenberg de Bergheim Gewurztraminer 1999. The subtle notes of roses and the developed complexity, just magnificent. Great Gewurztraminer can be kept for many years. And a thank you to the Faller family, Colette and her daughters Laurence and Catherine, for the Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capucins Muscat 2006. A great wine and a great grape, which sadly too seldom visits the cellar of this house. 

When the winemaking tradition in Alsace goes centuries back, with domains that often can be proud of an unbroken chain of generations of winemakers, the ancient Spanish wine region Priorat fell in a beauty sleep after the devastating phylloxera attack. It was not until the eighties the awakening took off, thanks to a small group of dedicated growers who saw the potential of the land. 

My last thanks for today thus goes to Carles Pastrana and Mariona Jarque at the Costers del Siurana. In 1987 they became two of the pioneers that lifted Priorat up to the great heights of wine. Your Clos de l’Obac 1998 was just breath-taking.

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A shared obsession with petrol

We share a passion, Max and I. A passion for the substance with the too long name, 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene. Fortunately, the nickname is shorter; TDN. Prefer the latter. 

“Rich fruit, lemon and a lot of petrol. Medium bodied, distinct acidity, concentrated, lemon, petrol, some honey, good length.”  Max analysed the wine in his glass and continued, “Will continue to develop nicely over the next ten years I guess. And that magnificent petroleum. Great wine!” 

Max had shut his eyes, delighted. There was a big smile on his face. I had nothing to add to his account. Just nodding. 

The wine was a Hugel Jubilée Riesling 2007. A good choice for illustrating the petrol character often found in Alsacian Riesling. 

We were sitting in Max kitchen. He had phoned me some days before and asked me to come over. He wanted to try a few wines before a tasting. Max is always so thorough in his preparations, at least when it comes to wine. 

We both love great Riesling. Preferably a few years old, with an evolved nose of petrol. Often the great ones, the ones with a distinct petrol character, origin from Alsace. 

Isn’t it strange that some people think TDN is a fault? We love it. Are obsessed with it. Look for the bottles with potential, put them in the cellar and wait, wait, wait. Ten years later, or more, we get a great reward.

Luckily for us, there are many distinguished producers in Alsace.

Alsacian vineyard (Gustave Lorentz).

One favourite , which we often return to, is the Altenberg de Bergheim from Gustave Lorentz.

Marcel Deiss, Josmeyer and Trimbach are also on the top list. But there are many more.

Longing for the next visit…