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Otto

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Catching up on WTNs: Joseph Scharsch - purity from Alsace

by Otto » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:59 pm

Crémant NV...
...on the bottle but actually 2004. 45% Pinot Auxerrois, 45% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling. A fresh, light, savoury and grassy scent. The mousse is small and intense - much more "classy" than I expected. The palate has fine fruit balanced by excellent acidity. Not very long, but so delightfully fresh. Nice!

Crémant Cuvée Prestige 2003
100% Chardonnay! A nose of steel and white flowers but like in so many 2003s it is a bit diffuse. As is the palate, which is fruit forward, has quite a bit of acidity, but lacks the pin point precision I would hope for. But still, a very nice glugger.

Crémant Cuvée Prestige 2004
80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. A very floral nose but with the Chardonnay steel also very evident. Savoury, expressive, very very drinkable, and thoroughly enjoyable. And so pure. Very nice!

These Cremants were all very successful bubblies. At the 11-13 euros that they are, these offer fantastic value.

Pinot Blanc 2004
Grassy scent with lime: rather faint, but varietally correct. The palate had fine weight, lovely ripe and almost juicy acidity, very fine length and intensity and also a hint of minerals emerging on the aftertaste. Good.

Cuvée No.5 2004
A blend of five grapes which Nicolas Scharsch repeated so fast I didn't have time to write them and their %s down. The nose wasn't too successful: melon and lemon but lacking the lovely purity and freshness of the other Scharsches. The palate, however, was every bit as fine with pure fruit, high but ripe and accessible acidity, and more minerality than in the previous wines. Decent nose, good palate.

Muscat Vieilles Vignes 2004
VV here means 35 YO. A typically overtly grapey scent of the grape (doh...very tautological here), with a touch of saltiness. The palate was overtly fruity as expected, but unexpectedly had very fine levels of refreshing acidity and intensity. Good, indeed.

Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg 2004
15 g/l RS. A pungent nose, savoury and mineral but so far the only scent which didn't scream the grapes name at me. But still, a very fine scent. The palate was a touch sweet, and it built up in intensity as it stayed in the mouth. The aftertaste, especially, was lovely: dry (unlike the mid palate), savoury, mineral, acidic and almost unbearably intense. The palate did scream the grape at me ;) For 14,10 euros, this is stunning value!

Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg 2002
12 g/l RS. A nose of honey, olive stone (precursor to petrol IMO), lime and strawberry - so typical young Alsace Riesling IMO. Lovely. The palate was quite lovely too. Pungent and acidic but friendly and fruity amidst the mineral austerity - also eased by the slight RS. Intense and very long. Again, a very good wine in its own right, and stunning value at 14,10 euros!

Riesling de Volxheim 2004
The basic Riesling. Unfortunately tasted after the GCs. Some said slightly corked, but I got too much fruit for it to be so - but in all fairness, I've never been very sensitive to cork. I thought it was a nice basic Riesling à la austere style of Léon Beyer or Trimbach: mineral, pungent and strong with slightly tart acidity. I liked it very much. No back up bottle with which we could have compared it, but I'm not at all convinced it was flawed.

Gewurztraminer 2004
I believe Tom Cannavan sometime had the 2003 as wine of the week. The 2003 was fine, but this 2004 rocks! It has the typical floral and spicy nose, but also a fantastic amount of minerals - so much so that it seems almost austere despite its voluptiousness! The palate is very fruity, sweetish (or just very ripe? I can never tell with this grape), and with very fine acidity - not a feature I usually get with this grape. Very long and very good.

Pinot Gris 2004
A weighty and mineral nose, not very expressive (when is PG expressive) but very varietally true. The palate had a surprise in store. It was weighty, even fat, as PG should be, but it had astounding minerality and highish acidity which made this an almost graceful wine. Very good.

Gewrurztraminer Vendage Tardive 2003
Lychee, spice, simple but harmonious. The palate is very sweet, harmonious enough despite the low acidity, fresh. The aftertaste is rather on the short side. A pleasant wine, but a disappointment compared to the 2002. A victim of the vintage.

Riesling SGN 1997
The loveliest nose! There is in profusion that signature of all great sweet wines, the closest approximation which I can say is crab shells. Don't know if that says anything to anyone. Well, also it's rotten to the core, and it has fine (if a touch soft) acidity backing up the sweetness. Long and lovely.

Pinot Noir Cuvée Nicolas 2004
The nose has a touch of oak (1/6th of the barrels every year are new) but it doesn't detract from the classic Pinot vegetation scent. Also there is that pepperyness that I've never found in any other pinots than the Alsatians. The palate is fruity, not at all thin as so many are, light certainly but not lacking in intensity. A good Pinot, and not of the rosé-type that so many are.

A very fine tasting, indeed. Scharsch makes such pure wines that they are an immense joy to taste in this age of spoofulation. Also their prices are very, very competitive. I think this is one of the best QPR domaines on earth at the moment.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.
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David Lole

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Re: Catching up on TNs: Joseph Scharsch - purity from Alsace

by David Lole » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:35 pm

Thanks for the write-up on this winery. Never heard of them before! Perhaps they are reasonably small in size/production?

I'm a big fan of Alsace, particularly their racy dry Rieslings, flamboyant Gewurztraminers and sometimes the Pinot Gris. In particular, I've been lucky enough to try many vintages of Trimbach's best wines since the 1983 vintage which, in most cases, display wonderful purity of fruit, hold a steely/mineral personality and finish almost bone dry. Over recent years, one tendency which worries me is the increasing references made by various scribes and in many tasting notes of the higher levels of residual sugar and inherent "sweetness". Also some A/V's (particularly at Zind-Humbrecht; I've seen 16% on a few labels over the past few years) have been going skywards. The reason I raise this here is your notes above mention RS or sweetness in many of the examples reviewed. Can you offer a viewpoint on this trend with your more intimate knowledge of this region and their producers. TIA.
Cheers,

David
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Re: Catching up on TNs: Joseph Scharsch - purity from Alsace

by Otto » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:55 pm

David, thanks but though I love my Rieslings and my Trimbach, I'm by no means an expert on this area (or on any other area). They are a very small domaine, I can't remember the exact # of bottles / annum, but it wasn't much.

I find that there are two major styles in Alsace at the moment - the Z-H style of flamboyance and too often high alcohol which I don't really enjoy. Then there is the more austere style of producers like Trimbach and Léon Beyer, which I do like. Scharsch is not as austere, but is still very far away from the Z-H style despite there being small amounts of RS in some of the wines. Frankly I think the RS suited the Rieslings very well as it was so little it tasted almost dry thanks to the high acidity and they were very food friendly. I think, like many German wines, these would have been even too austere without the slight sweetness. I don't know if this was traditinal or not to have a touch of RS, but here it worked.
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Re: Catching up on TNs: Joseph Scharsch - purity from Alsace

by Rahsaan » Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:57 pm

Otto Nieminen wrote:I find that there are two major styles in Alsace at the moment - the Z-H style of flamboyance and too often high alcohol which I don't really enjoy. Then there is the more austere style of producers like Trimbach and Léon Beyer, which I do like.


Perhaps you mean two extremes. Like everywhere.

Ostertag and Barmes Buecher would have to be in the "middle" no..
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Re: Catching up on TNs: Joseph Scharsch - purity from Alsace

by Otto » Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:00 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:I find that there are two major styles in Alsace at the moment - the Z-H style of flamboyance and too often high alcohol which I don't really enjoy. Then there is the more austere style of producers like Trimbach and Léon Beyer, which I do like.


Perhaps you mean two extremes. Like everywhere.

Ostertag and Barmes Buecher would have to be in the "middle" no..


Yes! And I think Scharsch is also in the middle with a nod towards the austere camp.
I don't drink wine because of religious reasons ... only for other reasons.

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