5 Alsatian Beauties from Gustave Lorentz
Gustave Lorentz is family-owned Alsatian Winery whose history dates back to 1836. All these years later the winery is still family-owned and operated. Today it’s Georges Lorentz, representing the sixth generation of the family, running the show. Grapes for their wines come from a combination of their own property, they have 81 acres under vine, and fruit purchased through a partnership with about a hundred other local growers. I recently tasted through quite a few of their current releases and here’s a look at five exceptional ones that stood out for me.
Gustave Lorentz 2012 Pinot Blanc Reserve was produced using hillside fruit grown and hand-harvested in Bergheim, Germany. Fermentation and aging took place in stainless steel vats. 12,500 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $18.99. Apricot and mango aromas are underscored by lemon and grapefruit zest. The palate is dominated by rich tropical and stone fruit flavors; yellow melon is present as well. Bits of tangerine, mesquite honey, and citrus are all present on the finish which has terrific length. This is a surprising wine for the price. The aromas and flavors are so captivating they suck you right in and beg you to keep drinking. While it’ll pair well with food, I loved this wine most all by itself.
Gustave Lorentz 2012 Riesling Reserve was also produced from fruit sourced in the village of Bergheim. Fermentation took place using a combination of native and select yeasts. Aging followed in stainless steel tanks over a period of six months. 10,000 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $22.99. The nose here features a mélange of citrus zest aromas which work together well. The palate is even-keeled, featuring white fruit flavors that lean towards the tart side of the spectrum. Lemon ice and grapefruit are of note and they’re joined by tart green apple. White melon, continued citrus and white pepper are all in evidence on the finish which has good length. This is an incredibly refreshing and crisp wine that will excel when paired with lighter foods.
Gustave Lorentz 2012 Gewürztraminer Reserve was made from fruit sourced in hillside vineyards. After fermentation, the wine was racked twice prior to five months of aging in a tank. 2,725 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $24.99. Apricot and lychee fruit aromas jump from the lively nose of this Gewürztraminer. White and yellow peach flavors, apricot, and yellow delicious apple are all present on the layered, somewhat intense palate. Roasted nuts such as almond and hazelnut emerge on the long finish which also has terrific fruitiness along with bits of honey and white pepper. This wine is a revelation when paired with highly flavored Caribbean cuisine.
Gustave Lorentz 2010 Riesling “Burg” is a single vineyard effort. This vineyard is located close to the Grand Cru Kanzlerberg vineyard. A mere 300 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $33.99. White flowers, lemon zest, and tangerine aromas emerge from the big and bold nose of this 2010 riesling. The palate is rich and concentrated with stone and citrus fruit dominating, while a touch of tropical fruit by way of papaya provides an undercurrent of additional flavor. Apricot and nectarine lead the lengthy finish which is loaded with persistent mineral and spice notes. Roast pork loin topped with an apple compote would be a perfect accompaniment to this exceptional riesling. This is a wine you’ll want to take care not to over-chill. Serving it a few degrees warmer than the average white really allows its charming layers to emerge.
Gustave Lorentz 2011 Pinot Gris “Schofweg” is a single vineyard wine. The vines overlook a plain and sit in limestone rich soils. Just 350 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $34.99. Dried peach aromas are present on the nose of this wine. Apricot leads a bevy of stone fruit flavors on a concentrated and powerful palate that is studded with appealing and sweet-leaning fruit flavors. Mesquite honey and spices galore are part of the pleasing finish. This Pinot gris is a delight all by itself. It also works really, really well with stinky cheeses. I would expect this wine to age particularly well over the next decade, so don’t hesitate to lay it down.
Gustave Lorentz makes a lovely portfolio of wines. Even the five above, which are only a portion of their offerings, provide a window into the versatile wines they’re producing. The large production wines like the Pinot Blanc Reserve are widely available and priced for regular drinking. These are workhorse wines you can go to again and again. The smaller-production single-vineyard labels are worth the additional effort and expense to acquire. They would certainly be appropriate wines for a special occasion.
February Bubbly Club
The Cremant d’Alsace Rosé is made from Pinot Noir, which is full of charm and elegance. It makes a refined aperitif and an ideal cocktail or reception drink. Fresh and discreetly fruity, it inspires a host of gastronomic matches. This refined wine also works with hot and cold seafood appetizers, chicken, pork and other white meats & game, as well as some desserts. Serve chilled.
Analysis: 12.3% alcohol / volume
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Total Acidity: 5.6 g/l
Residual Sugar: 7.8 g/l
Producer: Gustave Lorentz
Region: AOC Alsace
The grapes are carefully selected and vinified according to “Methode Champenoise.” After traditional fermentation “vin de base” in tanks, a second fermentation (“prise de mousse”) takes place in the cool cellars. It does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Aging is done “sur lie” between 14 and 18 months, with daily bottle rotation, going from a horizontal to vertical position, in order for the yeast deposit to accumulate in the neck of the bottle. At the time of “degorgement,” the neck is frozen and, enclosed in ice, the sediment is ejected by natural pressure, after which the bottle is corked and wired.
ABOUT THE WINERY:
Founded in 1836, Maison Gustave Lorentz owned 33 hectares of land on the hillsides of Bergheim in the heart of the Alsace wine region, 12.8 hectares of which are classified Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim, and 1.75 hectares Grand Cru Kanzlerberg. The first mention of the Lorentz family in the commune of Ribeauvillé dates back to the end of the Thirty Years’ War in the second half of the 17th century. They were innkeepers or coopers as well as ‘gourmets’, the old name given to wine merchants, which afforded them an important status in the local community. In 1748, winegrower and blacksmith Jean-Georges Lorentz was the first to settle in Bergheim, which later became the heart of our domaine. His son, Pierre Lorentz, was married to the youngest daughter of the Mayor of the time (Nicolas Schmitt). Generations passed with the birth of Jacques Lorentz in 1798 and Charles Lorentz in 1836. This same year, Maison Lorentz was founded in the commune of Bergheim. Today, Georges Lorentz has the honor of managing the estate, seven generations later. To learn more about Gustave Lorentz Winery and family, click here.
© Photo by: Gustave Lorentz Winery
Alma 4Blanc de BlancUco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
BUBBLY WINE STYLE
Alma 4’s Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay is greenish yellow in color with slight tints of gold. It has persistent and delicate chains of small bubbles. The nose is quite shocking. It has strong flavors of fruits, such as fresh pear, as well as some citrus notes of mandarin peel and Kinoto. The fruit is balanced, the yeast is subtle, and the wood flavor is complex. On the mouth, it is creamy and fully. There is a harmony of sugar to acidity with an exotic fruit finish. It is long and complex. Intense and fresh. This sparkling wine is tasted with the 5 senses.
Analysis: 12.5% alcohol / volume
Varietals: 100% Chardonnay
Residual Sugar: 4.7 g/l
Acidity: 7.05 g/l
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Appellation: Uco Valley
Vineyard: Sustainably farmed – 1200-1550 meters in elevation
Production:Traditional method (Champenoise) using direct pressing. Fermentation begins at 59-64.4ºF for 20 days. 15% of Chardonnay is fermented in French oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation. The second fermentation is in bottles between 57.2º F and 60.8º F.
Disgorgement: Performed manually
Time on Yeasts: 40 months
ABOUT THE WINERY:
Alma Cuatro (or Alma 4) began in 1999 as an experimental sparkling wine-making project led by four young people from Mendoza, with a strong investigative spirit: Mauricio, Agustín, Marcela and Sebastián. With passion, perseverance, friendship and work, these four friends came together to create a line of sparkling wines made by second fermentation in the bottle — combining innovation with the avant-garde method. Learn more about these four friends and owners here.
Learn more about our Bubbly Club >
April Wine Club Pairing Recipe
Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Shallots
- ¾ pound shallots, halved lengthwise and peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups beef broth
- ¾ cup port wine
- 1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 pounds beef tenderloin roast, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 slices bacon, diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 4 sprigs watercress, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a 9-inch pie pan, toss shallots with oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until shallots are deep brown and very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
- In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and port. Bring to a boil. Cook over high heat until the volume is reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Whisk in tomato paste. Set aside.
- Pat beef dry sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. In a large roasting pan, set over medium heat on the stove top, sauté bacon until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add beef to pan brown on all sides over medium high heat, about 7 minutes.
- Transfer pan to oven. Roast beef until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F (50°C) for medium rare, about 25 minutes. Transfer beef to platter. Tent loosely with foil.
- Spoon fat off top of pan drippings in roasting pan. Place pan over high heat on stove top. Add broth mixture, and bring to boil stir to scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a medium saucepan, and bring to simmer. Mix 1 ½ tablespoon butter and flour in small bowl to form smooth paste whisk into broth mixture, and simmer until sauce thickens. Whisk in remaining butter. Stir in roasted shallots and reserved bacon. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut beef into ½ inch thick slices. Spoon some sauce over, and garnish with watercress.
© Recipe courtesy of Christine L. from All Recipes.
APRIL WINE CLUB:
Château de Bel-AirMerlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon Lalande de Pomerol, France
MELLOW WINE STYLE
Mentioned in the Cocks & Feret guides as one of the best wines of the appellation as early as 1922, Château de Bel-Air is situated on a sunny plateau that gently slopes southward. The historical quality of its wines and its privileged position, which guarantees the vineyard ideal sun exposure year-round, inspired owner Michel de Laet Derache to acquire the property in 2011. The vines, averaging 40 years of age, are planted on a terroir of gravel brought from the volcanic Massif Central by rivers during the quaternary era, with layers of iron rich clay. In order to best express the nuances of the site, the vineyard is managed and vinified plot by plot, with a respect for the different ages of the vines, varietals, and rootstocks. Vinification takes place in thermo-regulated concrete tanks. The wine is then mostly aged in oak barrels (45% new) for 12-18 months.
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Gustave Lorentz 2016 Kanzlerberg Grand Cru Pinot Gris (Alsace)
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Ripe fresh and baked pear have a creaminess on this wine's open nose. That creaminess attains pithy texture on the rounded palate that is a beautiful foil for the rich fruit, especially baked-apple notes that come to the fore. A vein of freshness and generous warmth show on the off-dry finish. Anne Krebiehl MWHow We Blind Taste
All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5-8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context&mdashvintage, variety or appellation&mdashbut never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted.
Ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a product’s special characteristics.
A Must -Visit Museum For Southern Food & Beverage
For anyone curious about southern food and beverage culture, a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (a.k.a. SoFAB) is a must-stop when you visit New Orleans. Located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, the museum is chock full of culinary culture and ephemera, ranging from the history of Popeye’s Fried Chicken and traditional New Orleans foods to the many foods, products and culinary curiosities native to each southern state. There is a demonstration kitchen cooking classes and other educational programs are offered regularly. www.southernfood.org
Inside SOFAB. Museum hours are Thursday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
SoFAB also houses the Museum of American Cocktail (MOTAC), a fascinating history of America’s cocktail culture, and the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, containing over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to SoFAB. It’s also home to the Nitty Grits Podcast Network, a selection of audio and video podcasts addressing food and drink topics.
The museum may appear small at first but, trust us when we tell you to take your time walking through the exhibits. There is much to digest, especially if you enjoy learning about the history of food and drink. The exhibits on New Orleans’ culinary history alone, ranging from the impact of Hurricane Katrina to the history of cooking with beans and a tribute to the late Leah Chase, offer much to reflect on.
Learn the history of New Orleans’ famous Popeye’s fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.
Meet SoFAB’s Founder
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. The museum began with pop-up exhibits and was the first official exhibit for what is now the Museum of American Cocktail. Over time, individuals began donating family artifacts to the museum, requiring the need for more space. SoFAB has been at its current location since 2014.
Williams, who joined us as our guest on The Connected Table LIVE May 5th, was born and raised in New Orleans to a family with Sicilian heritage. She notes in her bio that she was “always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world.”
Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation
A lawyer by training, Williams has had a long career working with foundations and museums. She served as President & CEO of the University of New Orleans Foundation and UNO Research and Technology Foundation, Inc. working in foundation budget management and financing, development and fundraising and management for properties including UNO Studio Center, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the D-Day Museum, now the National World War II Museum.
Since 2004 she has served as founding President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation and established the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. She has researched and written on the subject of food policy and is coauthor with Stephanie Jane Carter of The Encyclopedia of Law and Food (Greenwood Publishing, 2011).
Over lunch at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit restaurant and hospitality training ground for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24, Williams shared some of her projects for the National Food & Beverage Foundation, which includes the cookbook library and culinary archives, the SoFAB Meat Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering classes and demonstrations on everything meat-related, from butchering to grilling, and the Nitty Grits podcast studio and other programs around culinary history and education.
SoFAB’s repository library includes The John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library which contains over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. The collection is non-circulating but available for reference. The library also contains a collection of books written by members of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a nonprofit organization of leading women in food fine beverage and hospitality.
Williams is encyclopedic on food and drink culture, especially when it comes to New Orleans. Listen to our conversation on everything from Mississippi tamales and Alabama white sauce to New Orleans Krewe of Red Beans on this edition of The Connected Table. Click below or this link
Cremant d’Alsace: Gustave Lorentz NV, serve at 6-8°C / 43-45°F
Cremant de Bourgogne: Veuve Ambal NV, serve at 6-8°C / 43-45°F
The wine pairing for your savory chickpea pancakes will depend on the flavor profile you choose. I think this dish is perfectly suited to eating outdoors on a beautiful spring day, so I like pairing with something crisp, refreshing, and picnic-y but not boring.
Tavel in the southern Rhone valley is a small town that has been producing rosé since the time of the popes of Avignon over 700 years ago. The predominant varietals here are red wine grapes — mostly grenache — which gives the wine a fuller body and darker color than the many bland, barely pink rosés on the market today. It’s a great choice not just for summer’s rosé-all-day season but year-round.
Another good option is a crisp sparkling wine. I reserve Champagne and its higher price tag for special occasions, but a dry bubbly made in the méthode traditionelle is a perfect choice. Méthode traditionelle, sometimes labeled méthode champenoise refers to a natural secondary fermentation in the bottle to give the wine its bubbles. The non-Champagnes of France are known as crémant. Two good choices are Cremant d’Alsace, from Northeastern France on the border of Switzerland and Germany, and Cremant de Bourgogne, from Burgundy just next door to Champagne.
Giving Grand Cru Pinot Noir d’Alsace its due
The Vineyards of Domaine Albert Mann
photo (c) https://www.facebook.com/albertmannwines
“Pinot Noir, like Riesling, is a mineralogist.”
You won’t find a rare or carefully considered older vintage of Pinot Noir tasted and discussed at a Millésimes Alsace Master Sommelier class. Nor will it be featured in a magazine article’s varietal spotlight on the great wines of the region. The world may ignore the potentiality and the well-established roots of the expatriate Burgundian in Alsace, but there are winemakers who know. The future of the grape with a long history is already entrenched in the Alsace progression.
Pinot Noir is the only red grape variety authorized in Alsace. The official marketing and regulatory board for the region, Le Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) recognizes the trenchant antiquity. “What is today considered a novelty in the region is in reality a legacy of the past that is becoming increasingly successful.” According to the Wine Society, the oldest recorded grape variety in Alsace is in fact Pinot Noir, predating Riesling by at least seven centuries.” That exaggeration aside, records dating back to the 16th century indicate that the grape variety was stored in Abbey caves and poached in tithes by the Church.
Out in the diaspora the affirmation of what best indicates Burgundy is the requiem for respect. Oregon, Central Otago and certain pockets of (cooler) California are well into their seasons of repute. Yet sometime around 10-15 years ago the $60 Sonoma Pinot Noir became serious fashion. Thanks to darlings like Kosta Browne, the sky became the limit, in California and elsewhere. A host of producers joined the ranks of the rich and famous. Looking back now, the black cherry bomb initiative temporarily cost the New World its mojo.
Those growing pains have worked to great advantage. Today you have to be better and fashion elegant Pinot Noir to attract an audience and become a hero. This goes for Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, the Willamette Valley, Marlborough, Martinborough, Nelson and Otago. This applies to the Okanagan Valley and South Africa too. Niagara and Prince Edward County have followed suit. Vignerons like Norman Hardie, Thomas Bachelder, Moray Tawse and Harald Thiel understand what needs. Their wines have ushered in a $40-plus Pinot Noir era in Ontario. But Alsace? Please. Today a reckoning about Pinot Noir incites nothing but a series of car wrecks along the wine route from Thann to Marlenheim.
Burgundy and Bordeaux do not accept varietal expatriate inclusions. So, why should Alsace? For one, global warming. Say what you will about that load of scientific horse crap but the biodynamic culture that permeates much of Alsace is in tune and well aware of temperature change and ripening schedules. More and more growers are picking their whites earlier, to preserve freshness and acidity, not to mention the conscious decision to cheat botrytis and elevated residual sugar. Embracing Pinot Noir is on many of their minds. Some are ahead of the curve and have already made some exceptional wines. Many examples from the first eight years of the 21st century are showing beautifully in 2014. Phillipe Blanck poured a very much alive 1991. How many Alsace wineries can lay claim to one of those in their cellars?
It’s common knowledge to an Alsatian cognoscenti that white wines drive the mecca. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer and their associations with the Grand Cru and lieu-dits are the it vines. Vendanges Tardives (VT or, Late Harvest) and Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN, or selection of noble berries) sit on thrones of glory. Even traditional varieties like Auxerrois and Muscat continue to outshine and suppress the possibilities for Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir has yet to receive any proper respect both in and outside of Alsace. Can there be justice served in a wine region where a noble variety must share nomenclature with a bottom feeder like Pinot d’Alsace, which is not really a Pinot at all. The scavenging white blend draws attention while making unsubstantiated use of the Pinot prefix. Pd’A need only contain a small percentage of any type of Pinot (Blanc, Auxerrois, Meunier or Noir) in conjunction with other white Alsatian varieties. According to wikipedia:”Lack of acidity and complexity often prevent Alsatian Pinot Noir from achieving anything more than pleasant, easy drinking, quality levels.” Them’s fighting words.
That faux Pinot sideshow is really a whole lot of nothing. The real terror is that if you grow exceptional quality Pinot Noir on Grand Cru terroir in Alsace you can’t label it as such. If you produce Riesling in the Hengst, you are good to go. If you grow Pinot Noir in any of the storied “male horse,” vineyards, the resulting wine, with respect to the variety, is only considered lieu-dit and must be labeled as such. This is the Alsace Grand Cru taboo.
As part of his recent three-part report on Alsace, British journalist Tom Cannavan covers some of the wines of the Grand Cru Hengst. Cannavan so rightly notes that “the problem is, not only is Pinot Noir ineligible for Grand Cru status, but the name Hengst cannot even appear on the label.” He did sample some basic Pinot examples and wondered aloud about the injustice being a non-sequitur. He missed the boat. Case in point Domaine Albert Mann. Back that up with Pinot Noir made elsewhere by Pierre Blanck, Jean-Pierre Frick and Mélanie Pfister, among others.
Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé of Domaine Albert Mann shirk the system with the use of a simple letter, an “H” or a “G” in place of Hengst and Pfersigberg. Philippe Blanck of Paul Blanck & Fils does the same thing with an “F” for Furstentum. It’s a wink-wink, say-no-more kind of approach. A grand parade of life-giving packaging. The brothers Barthelmé and Mr. Blanck know what excellence lies in their Pinot Noir holdings and understand the bright red future for Alsace. “Pinot Noir, like Riesling, is a minerologist,” insists Maurice. Don’t think of the brothers as pioneers so much as pragmatists. CIVA has surely taken note and despite the resistance to add Burgundy to the charges, change is inevitable. The Pinot Noir eyes never lie.
Here are two dozen Pinot Noirs tasted in Alsace during a week in June.
Domaine Albert Mann
“Diversity of the parcels of land, disseminated and however subtly intertwined, which are the particularity of the domaine”
Pinot Noir (and Pinot Gris) of Domaine Albert Mann
Pinot Noir Clos De La Faille 2012
Though geologically speaking this Pinot Noir out of 1997 plantings in calcaire and redstone soils is a fault on the hill of nature, as a wine it shows no discernible impropriety. This represents a tectonic shift for Alsatian Pinot Noir, a lithe and floral wine of articulation and an eye opener to prepare for the intensity of Mann’s Grand letters. It’s a lightly woven, silky soft Pinot, with a furrowed brow and the necessary Mann clarity of responsibility. Density is through a looking-glass, a gateway to Alsace and what future varietal decorum may be achieved.
Pinot Noir Les Saintes Claires 2012
From calcareous soil and still the Albert Mann zealous clarity, with similar intensity and protracted density. There is a lacuna permeated by a hint at black cherry but the ken is never fully realized. At 13 per cent abv and with a set of fine, sweet tannins (even more so than La Faille), these 20 year-old vines have procured a piled Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir Les Saintes Claires 2010
A top-notch (though cool and late harvested from a small crop) vintage for Mann (and Alsace) Pinot Noir, here the calcareous parcel at Sigolsheim above an old monastery called “Les Clarisses.” Some early rot and bottle reduction have both been stabilized as the wine peels off the rust and goes mellow, in full humanizing and sensual mystery. “How great the wine is when you can see the vintage, ” chimes Maurice. Controlling the effects of both nature and fermentation seems no biggie to the brothers Barthelmé. The act is of such minor tragedy, the climax characterful and sacred. A tingle of eastern spice twitches over bright fruit and a certain florality, materializing what can only be described as obvious commitment. It’s all about the journey.
Domaine Albert Mann Pinot Noir Les Saintes Claires 2008 and Grand P 2012
Pinot Noir Grand “P” 2012 (Tasted from a 375 mL bottle)
From a blend of plantings (1975 and 2004) in Wintzenheim limestone-sandstone soils on the Grand Cru Pfersigberg. Whole bunch pressed grapes (60 per cent) saw a range of oak 25 per cent new, 50 one-year old and 25 older barrels. A light filtration was used to combat some reduction. This P is a touch ferric, not unlike Volnay but also because of the vintage. The vines in were subject to cool, then humid, then dry weather. The flux makes for a full floral display, from iron through to roses, but the wave stays linear and rigid. In its youth, the P is calm and on a level plain along its ECG-considered PQRST journey. It will soon spike past Q, up to R and then settle in for the long haul. Will hit its glide at S and T at the end of the decade.
Pinot Noir Grand “P” 2011
From what Maurice Barthelmé describes as a “paradoxical vintage” that started out dry and turned rabidly humid. This has huge personality, less refinement but more delicacy than the Hengst. Once again it’s a touch reductive and that tenuity is in the form of cured meat. The style here emulates Burgundy more than any of the P’s, much more than the H’s and worlds beyond the Failles and the Claires. The iron gait exceeds with a railroading layer of grand P funk. A chain of earth-resin-tannin has “got the knack,” jumps up, jumps back, does the locomotion with “a little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul.” The 2011 Pfersigberg is unlike any other Alsatian Pinot. It requires plenty of air and even more time to unwind. Look for it to become a classic 20 years after release.
Pinot Noir Grand “P” 2009 (Tasted from a 375 mL bottle)
In the you can smell how five years of bottle time (slightly accelerated by the small format) brings Pfersigberg Pinot fruit into a Grand Cru station. This is in the zone and just about as perfect an example can be to represent the young cottage industry that is Alsace Pinot Noir. Five more years would send it into philosophical complexity. The classic “P” reduction is there, with amazing structure from the palate. Wonderful funk, the proverbial Brett-esque creature of Pfersigberg, along with cherry and resin of pine. Wonderful animal.
Pinot Noir Grand “H” 2012 (Tasted from a 375 mL bottle)
From a south-facing plot in Wintzenheim on the Grand Cru Hengst. The soils are deeper, the clive made of consolidated clay or marly limestone and sandstone. All aspects of the Pinot Noir here are enriched by the density of nutrition extract, spice and tannin. Any thoughts of overripe character in any way are thwarted a circular saw of energy that cuts through the cake, breaking it down with extreme prejudice. Tasted at 9:00 am this is a wake up call of the highest order. Notes Maurice Barthelmé, “this must be planted in calcaire soil.” Strike another notch on the Grand Cru petition.
Pinot Noir Grand “H” 2009,
Typically Hengst, with a whiff of reduction, though never as pronounced as the Pfersigberg. In the , which was a star-caste vintage, the “H” stands for high. As in hue, extract and phenolics. It could be imagined that Syrah were blended in (Maurice said it) and like its namesake (German translation), “Hengst is a stallion.” The reduction is (sic), as Eleven Madison Park’s Jonathan Ross noted, “favourable flavour. A creaminess comes from grape tannin, not oak.” This is meaty Pinot Noir, seeking out rare flesh, in beef or game. It will travel well and live for a decade or more.
Pinot Noir 2008
This vintage preceded forward seasons that brought out warm, fully ripe and optimal phenol-realized fruit. From Maurice Barthelmé’s vineyard, between Mambourg and Furstentum, in Kientzheim. Clear, clean and precise. This was perhaps a bit ambitious in its oak soak from a year that Maurice considers “difficult and early,” but the parcel never lies and what a parcel it is. “Pinot Noir, like Riesling, is a mineralogist, ” says Barthelmé. This is Mann’s purest Pinot, if a touch under ripe, but that is the key. Whole bunch pressing and the oak envelopment has created a round flavour lock and Maurice feels he needs 10 more years to master this technique. Though this may have been the early stages in the development of the Mann Pinot candidacy, by 2018 it will reign in Alsace.
Paul Blanck & Fils
“We’re looking for authenticity. Not wines of impression, but wines of expression.”
Philippe Blanck, Domaine Paul Blanck & Fils
Pinot Noir 2012
From granite and gravel soils, the former bringing a bitter component, the latter what Philippe Blanck calls “a facile aspect.” Dark fruits, like black cherry and plum are flecked with pepper and cloaked in a silky robe. “Almost a sort of texture wine,” considers Blanck. The bitterness is beautiful and offers a window of proof towards the ageing capabilities of Pinot Noir in Alsace. “Everybody has an idea of what is a Pinot Noir in the world,” says Philippe. “This is a classic one. And they age crazy.” Classic vintage too. From now and for 10 years.
Pinot Noir 1991
From 20-year old vines (at the time) and a low-yielding (20 hl/ha), cold vintage. The wine was not filtered and 13 years on remains very much alive. Retains the unmistakable smell of Fragaria Vesca, fraise de bois, the herbaceous and wild alpine strawberry. Mix in a metallic, iron and wine tinge and still viable tannins and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully aged Alsace Pinot. An example to encourage a future for the grape variety in Alsace. “So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten.” Blanck said “nothing to prove, just to experiment. Some wet, moldy berry in here.” Roasted game lends a note as well to this upward, over the “mountain wine.”
Pinot Noir “F” 2009
The F is for Furstentum, the Grand Cru on the northern slopes of the Weisbach valley split between the communes of Kientzheim and Sigolsheim. The soil is marl. Philippe Blanck insists “we’re looking for authenticity. Not a wine of impression, but a wine of expression.” Here is cherry set on high, bright and exploding, with savoury wild herbs and direct linear of acidity. Authentic yes, silky no. Can age for 10 more years and somewhere along that line the direction will find a more approachable intersect.
Pinot Noir 2009
From a vintage Le Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) called “precocious” and of irresistible wines. Mélanie Pfister’s comes from the calcareous Clos Bamhauer, went through two weeks maceration in Inox and then spent a slow 18 months in Burgundy barriques. Incredibly fragrant, with a rich density and a charge of wood spice. Its black cherry waft brings Burgenland to mind, that and the elastic, silty grit by way of some vines grown on gravelly soil. What sets it apart from everywhere else not called Burgundy is the lack of any sort of varnished note. Purity prevails.
Pinot Noir 2012
To Olivier Humbrecht, the location and managing the ripeness of Pinot Noir is key. “You can’t hide green character in Pinot Noir,” he asserts. Fruit comes from the Heimbourg vineyard, from west-facing slopes out of marl and limestone. This is a cooler, later ripening position with a draught between the hills. At 13 per cent alcohol it is pleasantly ripe but not as rich and intense as 2009. Still ripe enough for positive and effective phenols. Tannins are present and accounted for, wrapping a veil over the chalky, chewy, slighted coated fruit. The mineral is felt in texture coming from what is a simple, proper and elegant palate.
Domaine Pierre Frick
Pierre Frick Pinot Noir 2008 and 2009
Pinot Noir Rot-Murlé 2009
This block is literally le muret rouge or, the red stone wall. From brown, ferric (ferrugineux), hard calcaire soils. In 2008 you could not write organic on the label (this changed with the 2012 vintage) so Frick sub-labeled the bottle Vin Biologique Zéro Sulfites Gioutés. Natural wine. Rustic, full of horns on acidity. The combination of clay, marl and the fact that the plot benefits from extended late-afternoon sun all lead to vigor, rigor and rigidity. This is Jean-Pierre Frick’s thickest and most Romantic brushstrokes. Richly textured like a Gaugin portrait of the The Schuffenecker Family. Post-impressionist Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir 2008
From the Strangenberg lieu-dit, a hill parcel known as la colline aux pendus. Soil composition is hard, durable brown calcaire. After a quick whiff of farm droppings blow off, Jean-Pierre Frick’s Pinot Noir reveals a bright, light and feminine side. It is now blessed by gentle, resolved tannins. The generous spirit, kind heart and gentle soul of this Pinot offer nothing but calm pleasure. Its coat has not even a trace of primer. It is simply thoughtful and considerate. The iron minerality persists but with static and clinging trace fibers. A wine perfectly suited for a middle course at today’s table.
Pierre Frick Pinot Noir Strangenberg 2003 and Pinot Noir 2008
Pinot Noir Strangenberg 2003
Sub-label notes this as Vin Biologique Vinifié Sand Souffre. Years before it was fashionable or righteous to farm and vinify organically and without sulphites, Jean-Pierre Frick was looking to the stars. The Strangenberg is a very dry part of Alsace, Mediterranean in climate. This is earthy Pinot, like reds from Corbières or Sardinia, with its mutton-funky and roasted game aromas. Here is proof that non-sulphured wine can age, with the simple equation of fruit, acidity and tannin. It’s actually hard to believe so much tannin can emit from the collines of Haut-Rhin in Pinot Noir. Crazy actually. There is an underdeveloped green note along with some roasted and cooked flavours so peak has been reached. When left for 30 minutes in the glass the tannins begin to dry out. Like southern French and Italian reds, another 10 years would bring caramel, soy, figs and raisins. Either way. now or then, this Frick will also be interesting.
Pinot Noir Linzenberger 2013 (Barrel Sample)
Spent six months in one-year old (Allier forest) barrels. Bright, tight, full-on red cherries. A quick, fun, pure expression, clean and full of cherry. A two to three-year Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir Sainte Gregoire 2012
From the Val Saint Grégoire lieu-dit, the historic name of the Valley of Munster (before the Protestant reform). The soil is decomposed granite rich in micas. Leans warm and extracted but with a high-toned, spiced coat tension. A generalization would place it more New World than Old, verging to black cherry, though again, the spirit is high. In contrast the yields were low (17 hl/ha) from the Cru, let alone the top-level of output from such a low yielding vintage. “When nature isn’t generous the yields go down fast,” confirms Dominique Schoenheitz. Good balance and well-judged.
Pinot Noir La Limité 2009
From the lieu-dit Froehn on the edge (the limit) of the Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim. Such a spicy florality and the underlay of calcaire from what is ostensibly hard limestone and Jurassic Lias marls meet one another in a geological confluence of fossils, red ferruginous soil and hard rock. A slow 12-month accumulation to fermentation has brought this Pinot Noir to land’s end. It bares un uncanny resemblance to the Prince Edward County Pinot Noir by Norman Hardie. Over exposure to sun, wind and everything else nature delivers gives this wine its vigor, its core strength and its vibrant personality.
Pinot Noir Piece de Chene 2011
The Rentz take on Pinot Noir grows up in oak for 14-18 months, from a mix of new and used (no older than four years) barrels. The style is decidedly rich Pinot of a sweet tooth with a soft spot for quality chocolate. Spice supplements of orange and cinnamon, along with ethical acidity bring forth a wine bien charpentée, agreeable and ready for PDQ consumption.
Domaine Paul Zinck
Pinot Noir Terroir 2012
Flat out fresh, mineral Pinot Noir. Only 100 cases were produced from a chalk and clay single parcel, on the Grand Cru Eichberg. GC yes to Phillipe Zinck, “but not official.,” Very little barrel influence here, in fact two-thirds of the Terroir was fermented in stainless steel, “to keep the mineral.” The cherry scents has tinges of plum, licorice and black olive, but just around the periphery. It’s otherwise bright and fresh with a quiescent streak throughout. Excellent.
Pinot Noir Galets Oligocène 2010
From the village of Beblenheim, this Pinot Noir gets the moniker from deposits of Oligocène of the tertiary period consisting of conglomerated rock on a base of marl. Jean-Christophe Bott considers the low-lying grapes of this terroir on lower slopes to be Grand Cru (in quality). Picked early to avoid resinning, cooked or jammy flavours, the wine was matured in (one year-old) barriques for 14 to 18 months. Quite earthy and spiced explicitly by cinnamon, though delicious, this is Pinot that flirts with what Bott wants to avoid. Served with a good chill it harmonizes its intent.
Virginia’s Barboursville Vineyards: Southern Hospitality with an Italian Accent
We’re fans of Virginia wines and the region itself and made our third visit to explore the state in October. The weather was perfect and fall foliage was just starting. We spent three nights staying at the 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards, located in Central Virginia’s Monticello AVA.
This was our first visit to Barboursville, and we produced a live show with general manager and winemaker, Luca Paschina, who shared the estate’s history over a dinner he prepared for us with a selection on Barboursville’s wines.
Luca Paschina has been the winemaker at Barboursville since 1990.
Barboursville’s America-Italy Connection
Barboursville was the 19th century estate of Virginia’s Governor, James Barbour, a colleague and good friend of Thomas Jefferson. The two were practically neighbors- in rural Virginia that can mean several miles away which many may still say is “up the road a ways.” Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello, is about a 20- minute drive near Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia.
Barboursville Estate (photo from winery website www.bbvwine.com
Historically, Barboursville was a farming estate for sheep. Like many centuries-old farms, it changed hands over time. In 1976 Italian vintner, Gianni Zonin, acquired the estate to create Barboursville Vineyards, the only winery for the Zonin family outside Italy. This was a bold move for the Zonins, whose family dates back seven generations, and it marked a major milestone in then-sleepy Virginia wine history. The Zonins happen to be the largest privately family-run wine company in Italy. By selecting Virginia over locales like Napa and New York’s Finger Lakes to start a U.S. winery, the Zonins made quite a splash in the wine news world.
Gianni Zonin pictures at the first grape planting at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Barboursville Vineyards
Luca Paschina has served as general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards since 1990. Paschina is from a Piemontese winemaking family and is doing some amazing things with Italian varietals in this area of Central Virginia, notably Fiano, Vermentino and Nebbiolo. Barboursville’s selections also include Viognier and Cabernet Franc, which both flourish in this area. Most well-known of the estate’s wines is Octagon, Barboursville’s signature Bordeaux style blend.
There is also an onsite grape drying facility to make passito.
The inn itself also offers some smaller houses. When we were there it was quiet aside from two or three other couples staying on-site. However, the tasting rooms, inside and out, were busy with day trippers enjoying wines and a light lunch from the on-site Palladio restaurant. The tasting room team did a great job managing safe social distancing. Throughout our Virginia winery visits, everyone was incredibly careful about this.
What’s left of James Barbour’s home, designed by Thomas Jefferson and destroyed in a fire.
Paschina noted that the tasting room is open every day except three holidays, and one can visit the property and the ruins of Barbour’s house, which was designed by Jefferson. Sadly, the house was destroyed in a Christmas Day fire in 1884. The estate also has some stunning gardens and a patio to relax with a glass or two of wine and gaze at the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
Luca Paschina and Fernando Franco toast the end of harvest.
On our final day at Barboursville, harvest ended as we were saying our goodbyes. Vineyard manager, Fernando Franco made the final “victory lap” through the vineyards and up to the tasting patio in the big blue harvester. Out came the cameras and a bottle of Barboursville sparkling wine which Franco sabered. Glasses were raised in celebration to toast the end of a harvest that, many local vintners admitted to us, has its challenges thanks to a frost in May which had everyone scrambling to protect the buds. Paschina made a speech and thanked his team for their hard work. What a special moment to capture and savor in the vineyards among friends!
The Connected Table Live at Barboursville with Luca Paschina.
Here are the show notes and link. You can also hear it anytime on your favorite podcast platform.
Photos not provided by Barboursville Vineyards were taken by The Connected Table.
“Bald” Peanuts + Oysters in Apalachicola
“Ma’am, what’s your preferred rice?” the woman on the other end of the phone call asked? Confused by the question, my food-centric mind drifted to forbidden black rice or jasmine rice, my two favorites. I asked her to repeat the question. After all, my call was to schedule COVID-19 tests for David and myself. Why would rice matter? Third attempt to clarify the question, she asks, “Are you Caucasian or black?” OK, she’s asking about our race, not rice.
Boiled peanuts are sold by the bag.
I may be a native southerner, but deep south cotton mouth is thicker than my ears are used to. “Bald peanuts” are boiled peanuts, and you pick up “ersters” and “shrump” from local seafood shacks. That’s life here in the Florida’s Panhandle known as “the Forgotten Coast,” where we are “rat now’ (a.k.a. right now). Apalachicola, Eastpoint and St. George’s Island are hours from resort development and crowded beaches further west on the Emerald Coast, and locals want it to stay that way. “Don’t tell people about us,” they write in a private Facebook group.
Well, sorry folks, but we like to share stories about interesting places and support local businesses. We happen to have a mutual passion for oysters. Here in Oyster City (a.k.a. Apalachicola) we enjoy a daily dozen slurp washed down with a cold Oyster City Brewing Company “Mangrove” IPA in the afternoons. (and recently Paumanok Chenin Blanc)!
Jeff Tilley teaches us to shuck oysters
This week on The Connected Table LIVE we visited with Jeff Tilley, co-owner with his son, Reid Tilley, of Oyster Boss in Sopchoppy, Florida. Oyster Boss sells to restaurants, and the Sopchoppy retail outlet caters to drop ins and now has a growing ecommerce business launched during the pandemic. www.oysterboss.com
Apalachicola oysters have long been prized by bivalve fans, from chefs to consumers, but Tilley shared with us the challenges facing the industry as a result in changes in the water quality, resource mismanagement and the global sea level rise, among other reasons. Most are the result of human intervention. Pollution, runoff and waste disposal are all taking a toll on Florida’s coastal water system. Climate change is also a factor. The area has been impacted by drought and by Hurricane Michael, a category five that slammed the Panhandle in 2018. Much of the eye hit further west around Mexico Beach and Panama City, but we still saw some storm damage in Port St. Joe.
Did you know oysters are loaded with zinc, copper and vitamin B12- so good for the immune system!
Last year The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to shut down oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through 2025, severely impacting an industry crucial to this region’s economy. Apalachicola Bay historically produced 90% of Florida’s oysters and 10% of the nation’s supply. Many restaurants rely on farmed oysters from Florida and Texas, although you can still find wild-caught from other regions of Florida.
Oyster Boss sources its farmed oysters from Alligator Point in Franklin County, where the water has a higher salinity resulting in a buttery, mild, salty oyster. Further south in northwest central Florida near Yankeetown (Levy County) Oyster Boss sources wild -caught oysters, that are plump, succulent and briney. Tilley brought us bags of both to sample, gave us a lesson on shucking and provided us with some education on the reproductive system of oysters.
One perfect pearl of an oyster.
Tilley is also a red mullet fan. These fish like to jump in the water, although we still have not tasted. He started the Facebook group, Wet Net Mullet Group, now with 12,000 members. “There is a lot of seafood power in this group,” he shared.
Shucking prowess is akin to having good knife skills. And the right knife. Tilley uses a knife called “Toadfish” which Oyster Boss sells. You need a sturdy grip and a glove. Find the “lip” of the oyster, insert the blade and start moving it back and forth until the shell starts to open slightly. Then, insert deeper. It can take some arm muscle and definitely nimble wrist action.
David shucks oysters
If you love pristine places to visit, care about sustainable aquaculture and are oyster lovers like we are, you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jeff Tilley. Listen here:
Wine bargains: six to try at reduced prices
The SuperValu French wine event started this week and will continue until Wednesday, September 23rd. The range includes 10 new wines and plenty of more familiar names. Here is my pick of the crop.
La Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc 2019
A light refreshing Sauvignon, with clean green fruits and lemon zest. Sip before dinner or alongside light summery salads with fresh goat’s cheese. €8.85 down from €11.80.
Chardonnay Cuvée Dissenay 2019, Pays d’Oc
Lush ripe tropical and banana fruits, with some vanilla spice. An attractive rich, textured style that would go well with chicken dishes such as a creamy chicken curry. €9.84 down from €11.80.
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Domaine Gustave Lorentz Pinot Blanc 2019, Alsace
Lightly aromatic with good clean green apple and orange peel fruits and good acidity providing a crisp freshness. Perfect solo but even better with a ham salad or creamy pasta dishes. €11.80 down from €18.68.
Laffitte Malbec & Cabernet Franc, Côtes de Gascogne
Light, a mere 12% alcohol, with sweet ripe plum fruits and a tannin-free rounded finish. Drink cool with all sorts of cold meats, cheeses and charcuterie. €7.87 down from €11.80.
Ch. Pey La Tour 2018, Bordeaux
Big and powerful (15%) with spicy ripe plum fruits and light tannins on the finish. This would go nicely with a burger or grilled duck breast. I would never pay the full retail price of €19.66 for this, but the sale price of €9.83 represents very good value.
Ch. Lacombe-Cadiot 2018, Bordeaux Superieur
This is a very stylish classic Bordeaux with concentrated ripe blackcurrant fruits underpinned by a good tannic structure. Drink this alongside a roast leg of lamb. Keenly priced at €12.79, down from €15.73.