A Virtual Journey Through Alsace with David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

Saturday October 24th, 5-6 PM

Join David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato for a virtual journey through Alsace at cocktail hour on Saturday, October 24th. If you purchased the Passport to Alsace mixed case you can sip along as Sara and David talk about each wine. Even if you didn’t purchase the case, you are welcome to tune in with a bottle (or two) of your own. You’ll learn about this stunning region in France and the fantastic wines they make. There is no fee.

The 411 on Alsace

It’s one of the driest regions in France and often the first to harvest, yet Alsace’s northern latitude gives the impression of just the opposite. Sheltered by the Voges mountains to the east, Alsace benefits from a long, dry growing season that can optimally ripen grapes from riesling to pinot noir. Grown on south facing slopes a variety of unique grapes produce a wealth of styles from dry to sparkling to sweet.

Wines of Alsace can be generalized as drier than their German counterparts although we’d like to think of them as appropriately balanced. These are textural wines with a satisfying viscosity driven by alcohol (that can rise to heights of over 14%) and contrasted by a vibrant core of acid and mineral. The region can be divided up into the northern Bas-Rhin and the higher elevation Haut-Rhin to the south where most of the Grand Cru vineyards are located.

Did you know that Alsace has 51 Grand Cru sites? Wines made of the “noble varieties” of riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot gris and muscat (and maybe, one day, pinot noir) are awarded the Grand Cru AOP status if they are planted within these delimited Grand Cru sites and adhere to strict quality standards.  Although over 90% of the wine is made under the AOC of Alsace, it is one of the most variegated and complex terroirs of France. Featuring a tapestry of soil types from granitic to volcanic, limestone, clay and sandstone. Almost all of the wine-growing soil types in France are represented in this one region of Alsace.

Photo courtesy of Conseil Vins Alsace.

Bubbles continue to play a greater role than ever before in Alsace and are produced under the Crémant d’Alsace AOP. Sparkling wine made in the traditional method are made from riesling, pinot blanc, pinot gris and sometimes auxerrois but chardonnay and pinot noir also play considerable roles. You will find pink sparkling wine here too in the form of Crémant d’Alsace Rosé.

What else can you expect from Alsatian wine? Some of the most unique and memorable wines of the region are made from gewurztraminer. The name of the grape is most often mumbled under breath for fear of mispronunciation, so we’ll endeavor to help you get it right if you join us in a few weeks. This is the 100% born in Alsace grape variety. Look out as well for dry rieslings, floral muscats, off-dry pinot gris (that is anything but Italian pinot grigio), fresh pinot noir and dry rosé versions known as Alsace Rosé. You can expect to find pinot blancs that will surprise you along with lesser-known varieties such as sylvaner, auxerrois and even chasselas. Keep an eye out for the golden-hued Pinot d’Alsace that blends all the pinot grape varieties and the value-oriented “Gentil” wines that must include at least 50% of the aforementioned “noble grapes” in their blend. For more insight into this dynamic region, see David Lawrason’s exploratory article here.

Here are the six wines that will be in the Passport to Alsace mixed case. Two bottles of each of the six different wines will be included to make it a 12 pack of wine.

The Passport to Alsace is now SOLD OUT.

AOC Crémant d’Alsace 2016, “Blanc de Blancs Brut”, Domaine Jean-Marie Sohler

John Szabo, MS – Clean, fragrant, evolving, Sohler’s crémant 2016 offers a complex mix of fresh and candied citrus fruit, fresh wheat and hay, and other notes indicative of traditional method autolysis. The Palate is replete with candied lemon and wheat flavours, dry, balanced, engaging and complex. Very good length. Quality bubbles.

AOC Alsace Sylvaner 2017 “Originel”, Famille Muré

David Lawrason – Sylvaner is not the showiest of varieties in Alsace but it has an almost riesling-like acid grip that makes it a very food friendly choice. This shows generous lychee, vaguely garlicked and perfumed saffron aromas. Intriguing. It is medium bodied, fairly firm and dry with a lemony and nutty finish. The length is excellent.

AOC Alsace Pinot Blanc 2018, Trimbach F.E.

Michael Godel – Oh my, so forthright and drinkable is this pinot blanc from Trimbach ye hardly know you are drinking at all. Ripeness the virtue meets mineral the destiny for a varietal wine so clean, so fresh and so spot on that time stands Alsatian still. Mid-afternoon, a restaurant in Ribeauville, a recommended plate of cuisses de grenouille. Life affirmed through simple if serious pleasures.

AOC Alsace Riesling 2018 “Portrait”, Domaine Zinck

David Lawrason – This is a solid, zesty, taut dry riesling that delivers classic Alsatian character if in a particularly lean style. Many have more flesh. Expect lifted pear, petrol, spice and some herbal aromas. It is medium bodied (12.5%) dry and slightly pithy on the finish with a touch of spearmint. The length is very good to excellent.

AOC Alsace 2018 “Métiss”, Bott-Geyl

John Szabo, MS – A blend of Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Chasselas, biodynamically farmed and produced, this is lovely, fragrant floral wine with uncommon depth and amplitude, and a pinch of residual sugar to bring it into perfect balance. I love the salinity and the genuine flavour concentration. Frankly, I’d expect to pay a lot more for this quality. Pure, transparent, crystalline.

AOC Alsace Pinot Gris 2018 “ Pierres Sèches”, Famille Muré

Michael Godel – Quite unctuous pinot gris in the classic Alsace style in which some residual sugar is urged on by acidity with purposed equanimity. Begins in flinty smoulder, works through some terpenes, stone fruit and emerges into a world of candied lemon and pith. You can feel the barrel in that mild bitterness and in the creamy texture. A fulfilling wine with classicism coded in its DNA.