An interesting evening of tasting Alsatian and Burgundian wines blind with a matching menu.
Albert Mann Cremant d’Alsace (nv) – what better way to start the event? Simple yeasty nose, fresh and clean on palate with decent acidity.
2000 Albert Mann Gewurztraminer Steingrubler – a bit light in the nose at first although easily spotted as Gewurz, but that changed considerably over about 15 minutes as it opened up , to give lots of pear and spice. Good fruit, significant weight and a good long finish. I thought this was drinking very well now and continuing to improve; another taster thought it might have been better a couple of years ago. Does it rate the score Parker gave it (94)? I think it is at least close.
1997 Ostertag Vendage Tardive ‘Fronholz’ – I’d have put this later with the cheese, but perhaps the restaurant saw the same varietal and didn’t look any deeper (or didn’t know what VT wine was). Not as heavy as some VTs, it showed the sweetness clearly in the noise, which had the added element of lychee not seen in the previous wine. Very smooth and quite good.
1992 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer ‘Hengst’ – no varietal characteristic in the nose at all, although a hint of spiciness developed with time. What did come out was some oak, and the wine was medium bodied with lower acidity than the younger examples. I have always found it a mistake to hold Gewurz for the long haul as most decline in the very qualities of ‘gewurziness’ that we hold dear. Not bad, and some interesting notes in it, but my bet is that this wine would have drunk much better 5 years ago.
2002 Verget St. Romain – the segue to white Burgundy lost me on the way. Ripe nose, bit flabby in the mouth (but remember the crisp wines we were comparing it to), and a bit of oxidation indicated this one was a bit long in the tooth.
1985 Faiveley Echezaux – high point of the reds! Excellent nose of the mostly non-pongy variety – just pure old fruit with a bare tough of animal, and a decided coffee element that popped up a bit later on. Smooooth and supple, eventually ending up a tad acidic, a clue that the wine is probably in gentle decline but still hanging in there.
1996 Desauney-Bissey Vosne Romanee – evaluation was difficult as the wine was slightly corked and that casts any judgements made on it in doubt as you never know to what degree the rest of the wine, and in particular the fruit has also been affected. The basic balance was decent and it had good weight, but the fruit seemed a bit muted and there seemed to be sulphur as much as TCA in the nose.
2005 Joie “A Noble Blend” – a BC wine, present with prior approval of the organiser, made from various German and Alsatian varietals. Very light colour and I spotted it right off the bat as a BC wine because it had that identifiable amateur wine making sort of raw note in the nose. OK on palate I suppose, but light and forgettable. This one won’t be making the Alsatians lose any sleep.
2002 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim – lovely to hit a good Riesling nose! Some colour, an almost spirity hint at the tip of the tongue, and solid fruit in the middle, ending with sufficient acidity that it should have a nice long life. I’d have swapped positions with this and the Ostertag, had I been ordering the wines.
Great fun as we so seldom focus on Alsace!