It’s quite some time since I tasted the wines of Charles Baur, a family domaine where successive generations have farmed and made wines in the village of Eguisheim. The wines are made by father and son team of Armand Baur, and Armand junior.
The 18 hectares of vineyard are planted mostly on clay and limestone soils, with several parcels rated Grand Cru, including the famous names of Eichberg and Pfersigberg, as well as the granite-soiled Grand Cru of Brand. All farming is organic, and the wines are certified as organic too.
There’s a large portfolio of wines here, dry, sweet and sparkling, as well as eaux de vie. I count over 20 different cuvées, including such rarities as an Alsace Chardonnay, as tasted below. Luckily for UK wine lovers, the independent merchant Ten Acre Wines has imported the wines of Charles Baur for many year, including the wines tasted below, as well a selection of the family’s eaux de vie.
I was recently sent this selection by Ten Acre Wines, a great opportunity for me to reacquaint myself with these honest and delicious Alsace wines, made with genuine love and respect for nature, and who’s prices won’t break the bank.
(2020) What a nice fizz from the organic vineyards of Charles Baur, a blend of 40% Pinot Blanc, 40% Pinot Auxerrois and 20% Chardonnay, it is made by the traditional method with 24-months on the lees, and is as approachable and crowd-pleasing as you like, but really rather fine. Clean, crisp orchard fruits on the nose with just a suggestion biscuity quality, then super fresh but generous and not at all tart or acidic on the palate, a little herbal note along with the apple fruit into a clean, fresh finish. Food-friendly stuff too - for fish and chips perhaps?
(2020) From 30-year-old vines grown on silty soils over chalk, this wine matures on the lees for several months. That adds some weight and texture to this otherwise crisp and zingy-fresh Riesling, pale in colour and offering scents of fresh-cut apple, a touch of blossom, and a suggestion of Epsom salts in the background. In the mouth it has some weight and concentration, but the citrus zest vitality and delicate sense of minerals in the finish keep it focused and long into the finish. A lovely rendition of a classic style.
(2020) Muscat d’Alsace may not be the most famous variety of the region, but it is distinctive and in the hands of a producer like Baur, makes for fascinating and delicious drinking. Very pale in colour, the nose offers up thos musky, floral aromas so typical of the Muscat family of grape varieties, but there's a hint of a more serious, grippy fruit skin character too. In the mouth the merest hint of sweetness in a basiclly dry wine, but such lovely tang and clarity, mouth-watering lemon zest acidity and little spice and grapefruit pith notes too in an impeccably balanced wine.
(2020) Chardonnay is not one of Alsace's noble varieties, hence this is not an AOC wine and is MMXVII - it cannot be sold as a vintage wine. Unoaked I think, but has creaminess and some buttery character from lees ageing presumably, and it is a pretty, floral-edged and clean orchard fruit style, wild yeast fermenation just adding an earthy, herbal nuance. It has texture and some mouth-filling weight, a touch of sweetness or just very ripe fruit, which gives a tropical edge on the palate, but a balanced and easy finish, the acidity doing its job admirably in an enjoyable rendition of Chardonnay.