Friday, February 21, 2014

Wineaux of the Goddess - February Edition - Alsace

The Goddess of Wine and her merry band of Wineaux met, as always, on the second Wednesday of the month. Hostess with the Mostess, Xochitl Maiman, put together snacks and dinner designed to go with the wines of the month from the currently French region of Alsace. Tasters included Barbara Barrielle, Debra Bizek, Shawn Shai Halahmy, Rico Mandel, Michelle McCue. All the wines were purchased from K & L Wines in Hollywood.

Some background on Alsace: Almost all Alsatian wine is produced under one of the region's three AOC designations - Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru and Crémant d'Alsace. Unlike most other French wine regions, there is no Vin de pays designation for Alsace. This means that wines that do not qualify for AOC status have to be sold as simple Vin de table de France. This happens in some instances when producers wish to use other grape varieties in their wine, like Domaine Zind-Humbrecht which sells its cuvée Zind, a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Auxerrois.

An important influence in the history of Alsace wine has been the repeated changes of nationality of the Alsace region, which has passed from France to Germany and vice-versa several times throughout history. In the early history of the Alsace wine industry, they were traded together with other German wines since the Rhine river provided the means to transport the wines. In much of the post-World War II era, wine styles in Alsace and Germany diverged, as Alsace wines remained dry, to a large extent because the were intended to be paired with food. In the same era, Alsace has also experienced a drive to higher quality, which led to AOC status being awarded. In recent decades, the difference between Alsace and Germany has diminished, since German wines have become drier and more powerful, while many Alsace wines have become sweeter.

Xochitl put out fresh asparagus - yes, asparagus - Muenster cheese, and a 'tarte' - pizza-like dough, cheese, onions and bacon, followed by the main course of pork and spaetzle stew. Yummy!

2011 Schlumberger "Prince Abbés" Pinot Blanc - Straw-yellow with green highlights. Straightforward, clean aromas of pear, apple and apricot. Smooth and nicely balanced, with juicy acidity framing the white stone fruit flavors on the easygoing, moderately persistent finish. Desciptors from the group included butterscotch, honey, peach, honeydew melon on the nose with great texture and minerality on the palate. 12.5% alcohol. $14.99

2012 Meyer-Fonné "Edelzwicker" - An Alsatian term for a basic blend, this Edelzwicker is 60% Pinot Blanc, 15% Muscat, 15% Chasselas, and 10% Riesling. The winery and family home is in the village of Katzenthal, known for its distinctive granite soils. Clear, pale, medium-plus intensity. This youthful wine has great minerality and aromas of almond, baked pear and frangipane. On the palate, stone fruit, baking spices with an orange marmalade finish gave us a wine that drove home the perfection of asparagus as a pairing. Delish. 12% alcohol. $16.99

2011 Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer - This wine is ripe and off-dry, with honey and white fruit flavors that are offset by spice. Creamy and round, with moderate notes of orange and honey, hints of rose petal. It was a little sweeter than we thought it would be, and would have best been served later in the evening. 13.5% alcohol. $15.99

2011 Roland Schmitt "Glintzberg" Riesling - Bright, with notes of pear, green melon, almond and lemon zest. The group agreed that a major component of the nose was petrol. Not surprising, as that's a common aroma from Riesling. This wine's tropical nose and palate has lovely minerality with notes of lemongrass and citrus pith. Xochitl said "NO," rather emphatically, but others at the table found it enjoyable. 12.5% alcohol. $17.99

2011 Allimant Laugner Pinot Noir - This was the only red of the night, and it was delightful. Deep pink in color, refined and fruit-filled, with cherry and red currant fruit and a hint of spice. This is a lighter style of Pinot Noir, crisp and fresh on the palate, that's perfect with a little chill on it. My fave of the night. $16.99

NV Charles Baur Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rosé - The Wineaux love, love, love sparkling wines! And we're all really happy to taste a wonderfully easy-drinking selection from Alsace. Pale peach in color with a mild persistent mousse, this gets its hue from Pinot Noir, of course. Full of yeasty strawberry fruit and spice, it is a party wine! Oh, and it paired beautifully with the cheesecake with spiced apple topping. Oh dear. 12.5% alcohol $19.99

So thanks again to my intrepid band of tasters! Next month...hmmm...maybe the Finger Lakes...maybe Jura? We'll see. Stay tuned!

A lovely selection of wines from Alsace

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