(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) 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.
(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.
(2019) A terrific traditional method sparkling wine from the organic and biodynamic estate of Dirler-Cadé. The blend is 45% Pinot Gris, 35% Auxerrois and 20% Pinot Noir, in a 'zero dosage' wine with a negligible 0.9 g/l of residual sugar. It is immediately sheer and glacial, the cool, crisp fruits on the nose joined by subtle nuances of nettles and herbs, a tiny hint of the yeasty character from its time on the lees. In the mouth it is intense and invigorating, not at all tart of mean, but just riven with it zippy acidity and bold fruit concentration.
(2019) I've a bit of a soft spot for Alsace Pinot Noir, often a surprising revelation for people who think only of white and sparkling wines from the region. This light-bodied wine has dry, small red berry fruits and pepper, and a bit of briary, twiggy character with plenty of aromatic interest all round. In the mouth it is fairly spartan, the tight tannins and the relatively dry and deliberately lean and fresh style making it quaffable, yet there's a grown=up, savoury quality too.
(2019) Having trained in Burgundy and worked in California, Michel Fonné took over his uncle René Barth’s estate in 1989. As is very common with Alsace Pinot Gris, there’s definitely some sweetness here, in a wine that is full-bodied and voluptuous, and the antitheses of more neutral Pinot Grigios. With a wisp of smoke and fat, beeswax and apricot fruit on the nose, the palate explodes with ripe stone fruit flavours, a limey acidity that is purposeful but not sharp, and the sweetness offsetting a touch of spice and plenty of powerful fruit intensity. A fine example of a style Alsace does so well. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) By all accounts there is a recent surge of interest in France's 'other' sparkling wines, the Crémants from Burgundy, the Loire, Alsace and various other regions, made by the traditional method and normally priced substantially lower than Champagne. This from Alsace is composed mostly of Pinot Blanc and aged nine months on the lees in bottle before disgorgement. Pouring a pale green/gold with a lively mousse, this has baked apple and pastry aromas, a sense of richness, and a touch of lemon peel. On the palate it's pretty straightforward, but it has a fine stone fruit juiciness and ripeness, a bit of weight and creamy texture and a generous finish with the acidity elegantly balanced against the fruit and touch of toastiness.
(2018) Twenty kilometres west of Strasbourg, the Grand Cru of Steinklotz is at the northern tip of the Alsace wine route, and Gewurztraminer is the main grape planted on its limestone soils. This light golden wine opens with a touch of typical Turkish delight and rose perfume, subtle over stone fruits. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and off-dry, the fruit and sweetness offset by a bitter orange, pithy grip so typical of this variety. It is a fairly straightforward rendition, but match it to some spicy Chinese or Thai food and the balance, sweetness and freshness will work well.
(2017) Very fine nose, fine Gewurztraminer character, spicy and smoky, lots of residual sugar to give a delicate but exotic fruitiness that has intensity and yet filigree lacy acid framework. 17g/l makes it off-dry and a great match for Thai food or very ripe tomatoes with good olive oil, or simple pizza.