Friday, May 16, 2014
For intensity, try Alsacity
Riesling may be the dominant grape of Alsace, and it's a memorable variety indeed, widely considered one of the world's greatest white grapes. Gewurztraminer is also hailed as a characteristic Alsatian grape, but Pinot Blanc has its fans, and Alsatian Pinot Noir has grown from an offbeat experiment to a worthy (albeit often expensive) addition to the world's Pinot population.
What makes the wines of Alsace special?
It might be something about <i>terroir</i> at that. Certainly these wines often show the kind of intriguing "minerality" that brings complexity to a wine, and also offers wine "geeks" the opportunity to argue whether the actual minerals in the soil can be taken up and manifest themselves in the flavor of the wine, a notion that many declare impossible while others remain less sure.
For me, the hallmark of Alsace - circling back to the original premise of this essay - is a level of intensity that you don't find in wine every day, At its best, it's a memorable combination of intensity and balance, although some of the most highly rated (and expensive) Alsatians kick the intensity up several notches in a style that pleases some of the major critics but loses the critical balance that earns a wine's spot in the Hall of Fame for me.
Read my full 30 Second Wine Advisor column on WineLoversPage.com, with this week's tasting report on two good Alsatian wines.