Most Alsatian wines are lean and steely, with bright acidity and intense minerality – so they won’t weigh you down any more than the region’s rich food does.
Wines from Alsace generally do not undergo malolactic fermentation, and this helps give them their steely character. “Malo,” as it is known among wine geeks, is the conversion of malic acid into lactic acid. These two compounds have very different impressions on the palate: basically, it’s the difference between biting into a green apple and taking a gulp of milk.
A prominent feature of wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation is “butteriness” – not a bad thing in itself, but also not the best texture for washing down a mouthful of foie gras (a common indulgence in Alsace). For this reason, Alsatian wines tend to have refreshing acidity, without a trace of that buttery richness.
While the vast majority of wines produced in Alsace are white, the region is home to a few limited plantings of Pinot Noir. The grapes used most often in Alsatian winemaking, naturally, lend themselves to vinification without malolactic fermentation. Riesling gets most of the attention in Alsace, but there are delicious expressions of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Muscat there as well.
So, that’s Alsace in a nutshell. For a quick and compelling introduction to the Jura, check out Omari’s recent post about some of his favorite Jura wines.
Whether you’re in the mood for a clean, well-mineraled wine from Alsace or a rare Jura masterpiece, you can find it at today’s sale!
Top Values From Today’s Sale:
Gewürztraminer Reserve Personnelle, A. Seltz – 2009
A spicy, not-too-sweet Gewürz crafted in a classically dense, full-bodied style. Lush with roses and pear, the richly textured palate also has a smattering of cardamom and clove. Serve with a light chill with Indian curries, or sweetly sauced pork, or melty Muenster and spiced bread. Seltz’s Reserve Personnelle comes from two Grand Cru sites, Seltzenburg and Brand, both known for their warm, sunny location and mosaic of soils.
Staff Pick Notes
Wines that are rich yet dry are unusual, but I believe that this is the Alsace style. In the wine world, you most often encounter bright, refreshing, crisp wines with high acidity, or rich, velvety-feeling, heavy wines with low acidity. In between, we have standard wines with medium acid, body, and texture. Most light wines are dry; most heavy wines are fruity. This wine is interestingly heavy, but dry, with low sugar. The appearance of the wine is clear, bright gold, and viscous. The aromas are an amazing mix of honey, sweet lychee, pastries, and ripe peach. This wine is dry but has dried-fruit flavors, Asian fruits, and hidden honey. It’s like a dry dessert wine. – JR
Saveurs Assemblage, Binner – 2010
A delicate dry Alsatian blend in which Gewürztraminer is highlighted but does not dominate. Rose hips, lychees, lemon, and pear drops move across a sheer palate with a jubilant limey acidity. Elegant and worth pages of praise, with a slight effervescence that is natural, this wine works well with Asian pork and poultry, especially in savory, slightly spicy sauces. It will also be wonderful with outdoor grilled fish, pâté, and charcuterie.
Staff Pick Notes
This is the wine of the moment, the past, and the future. The Binner family has nearly 250 years of experience and history on 6 hectares of some of the best sites in the region, and their classic blends of Alsatian grape varieties are steeped in tradition. The brilliant vibrancy of the wine is irresistible and demands to be drunk up right away. Its beautiful natural character, preserved by the non-interventionist attitude of the winemakers, points in the direction that many small wineries are deciding to go. This unfiltered, slightly cloudy blend has wonderful aromas of cherry blossoms and flowers. Flavors of fleshy lime, grapefruit, and apricot skin are set against a plush texture with a persistent acidity and delicate minerality. This is a totally dry, totally delicious wine that can be enjoyed with nearly anything. – NAB
Arbois, Savagnin VV, Rijckaert – 2007
A friendly Savagnin with an inviting nose of yellow flowers opening into mirabelle and pear fruit on the palate, where dynamic and supple citrus acidity soon takes center stage. Savagnin’s classic hint of oxidative yeast floats effortlessly atop a mélange of yellow plums and crushed fresh spring herbs. Ideal for anyone seeking adventure outside of Chardonnay.
Staff Pick Notes
Brillance. A word used to describe genius or shiny jewelry. I dare to use this word in multiple ways on Rijckaert’s Savagnin from the Côtes de Jura. This Flemish producer made himself at home in the Mâconnais, as partner to famed Jean Verget in the early 90s. The experience evidently embedded a very Burgundian sensibility, as all wines he crafts display the same brilliant fruit aspect and respect of terroir – like a talented artist who makes all his models look beautiful and natural at the same time. Here, Rijckaert’s brilliance is in his ability to make the inaccessible accessible. Lovely, shining meyer lemon, bright yellow plums on a smooth palate that just invites the imbiber to find something tasty to eat alongside. I recommend this as a brilliant surprise to a Chardonnay-loving friend and a and to serve with Roast Chicken and garlic. – EP
Cotes de Jura, Les Gaudrettes, A P Bornard – 2007
Bright and energetic with an attack awash with citrus, apple, and pear fruits, this Chardonnay aims first to quench your thirst. With lean minerals and white flowers, rounded off with grilled nuts, it ends by forcing you to contemplate how these elements integrate into each other and transform on the palate. You realize at the end that, yes, Jura wines are indeed special. Philippe Bornard lives at the top of the village of Pupillin and farms about six hectares, which he inherited from his father. After years of selling grapes to the local cooperative, and with the urging of his good friend and Jurassian legend Pierre Overnoy, in 2005 Philippe made the move towards vinifying and bottling his own wines.