Tag Archives: Alsace

Alsace wines

Spotlight on Alsace

Sparkling, dry or sweet, there’s a wine from Alsace to match your taste.

Alsace is located in the northeast of France near the border with Germany. To find it on a map, look for Paris, then move your finger east, through Champagne. Like Champagne, Alsace produces sparkling wine using the traditional method, called Crémant d’Alsace. And like Germany, you’ll find Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are also grown, as is a small amount of Pinot Noir.

The wines from Alsace are ideal for the transition from summer to fall flavors. Try one of these wines:

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé

Lucien Albrecht Cremant RoseIf you’re new to sparkling wine from Alsace, the Crémant from Lucien Albrecht (both the rosé and white) are an excellent place to begin your discovery. The AG has been a longtime fan — we first wrote about the Brut Reserve in 2008. The rosé is 100% Pinot Noir that was whole cluster hand picked, then gently pressed in a pneumatic press.

Coral-pink in color, the Crémant has small, energetic bubbles. Crisp flavors of wild strawberry, red cherry and white raspberry culminate in a soft finish that has a hint of cream.
$20, 12% alcohol

Joseph Cattin Crémant d’Alsace Brut

Joseph Cattin Cremant BrutNot as dry and more fruity than the Lucien Albrecht, the Joseph Cattin evokes the freshness of biting into an apricot picked at the peak of ripeness. This sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. The grapes were hand picked, then slow crushed and cold fermented to preserve their character.

Effervescent with aromas of stone fruit and freshly baked bread, the Crémant has flavors of apricot, white peach and pluot, with lingering sweetness on the finish.
$19, 12% alcohol

Dopff & Irion Cuvée René Dopff Riesling 2012

Dopff & Irion RieslingThe name of this wine pays tribute to the man who took over the domaine in 1945 and implemented a new, terroir driven approach to winemaking in Alsace. This wine is made entirely from Riesling from Les Murailles, a single vineyard located on a hillside near the village of Riquewihr.

Pale yellow in color and very aromatic, the wine starts sweet but is immediately energized by bright acidity. Honeysuckle, nectarine and green apple come together with a hint of flinty minerality for a crisp finish.
$20, 12% alcohol

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés 2009

Schlumberger RieslingThe history of Domaines Schlumberger dates from the early 1800s, though winemaking in Guebwiller goes back much earlier. During the 12th century it became one of the more important towns in Alsace because of its winemaking, thanks to the Princes Abbots (Princes Abbés) who were the first to sell the wine. Approximately half of the Riesling grapes for this wine come from Grand Cru vineyards.

With a light yellow color, the wine opens with floral aromas and a touch of petrol. Orange blossom and wildflower honey flavors give way to crisper clementine, white peach, green apple and subtle shale notes. Medium acidity adds structure and a supple mouthfeel. The finish is clean and fresh.
$20, 12% alcohol

Want to learn more about Alsace? Visit www.winesofalsace.com.

Champagne and Beyond: Celebrate 2014 with French Sparkling Wine

France is king when it comes to bubbly. Whether you’re looking for Champagne or a great value Crémant, there’s a French sparkling wine to match your taste and your budget. Ring in the New Year with one of these bottles.

Ruinart Brut Rosé
Champagne

Ruinart Brut Rose

Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house, founded in 1729. Their elegant and aromatic rosé is truly a pleasure to sip. The Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (approximately 45% and 55% respectively). Around 18% of the Pinot Noir is vinified, which adds color and flavor to the final Champagne. The Brut Rosé is a lovely pink-orange color, and has notes of cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry and a hint of rose petal.
$75

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve
Champagne

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Everything you look for in a high quality Champagne, you’ll find it in the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve. It is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier that spent three years aging in Gallo-Roman chalk cellars. It is deep gold in color, with aromas of freshly baked brioche and complex flavors of white apricot, mango, ripe lemon, plum, praline and almond.
$50

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois
Champagne

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois

This Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and vinified entirely in oak (‘sous bois’ means ‘under oak’). It has an intriguing mix of fresh and dried fruit aromas and flavors. Lemon, orange peel, dried yellow fig and dried apricot are layered with grilled brioche, almond and toffee, and the mouthfeel is rich and creamy.
$75

Domaine de la Louvetrie, “Atmosphères” Jo Landron
Vin Mousseux de Qualite

Atmospheres Jo Landron

This sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is made in the traditional method from 80% Folle Blanche and 20% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is located in the Muscadet region and is certified organic and biodynamic. Crisp flavors of Meyer lemon and white grapefruit are complemented by a chalky minerality.
$18

Léon Palais Blanc de Blancs Brut
Crémant de Jura

Leon Palais Brut

This dry sparkling wine made in the traditional method comes from the Jura region in eastern France. It is made from Chardonnay, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc grapes. Flavors of pear and granny smith apple culminate in a soft citrus finish.
$16

Helfrich Brut
Crémant d’Alsace

Helfrich Cremant d'Alsace

This sparkling wine comes from Alsace, located east of Champagne near the border with Germany. It is made entirely from the Pinot Blanc grape in the traditional method. Straw yellow in color, this Crémant has flavors of fresh lemon, grapefruit, white flowers and toast that culminate in a crisp finish.
$20

>> Related Articles:
Crémant: France’s Alternative to Champagne
A Guide to Sparkling Wine

Helfrich: White Wines from Alsace

Elegance is the word that comes to mind when sipping the wines of Helfrich. A limited selection of white wines from the family-owned winery in Alsace, France are now available in the United States.

Helfrich winesThe Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace Brut demonstrates that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a high quality French sparkling wine. Made entirely from Pinot Blanc, it has notes of fresh lemon, white grapefruit, white flowers and toast. Click here to see a full article on the Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace.
$20, 12.1% abv

The grapes for the 2012 Helfrich Pinot Blanc come from the Couronne d’Or (Golden Crown), an association of vineyards and winemakers in the middle of Alsace. Tart citrus aromas introduce flavors of lemon custard, white grapefruit and subtle orange blossom, with notes of white flowers that expand as the wine warms in the glass. Pair the Helfrich Pinot Blanc with salads, shellfish, white fish and Asian dishes.
$15, 12.96% abv

The grapes for the Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru and Gewurztraminer Grand Cru come from the Steinklotz vineyard, one of only 51 vineyards in Alsace that has the Grand Cru designation. It is located at the northern end of the Alsatian wine trail and is one of the oldest vineyards recorded in Alsace.

Helfrich Grand CruThe 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru offers a great balance of sweetness and acidity. The nose and palate are dominated by stone fruit – apricot, white peach and lychee are layered with gardenia, orange blossom honey and a subtle hint of smoke. It is a touch less sweet than the Gewurztraminer. Pair the 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru with baked ham, roasted chicken and seafood dishes.
$20, 12.5% abv

Ripe fruit and delicate floral notes make the 2009 Helfrich Gewurztraminer Grand Cru a real treat. The nose is wonderfully fragrant with honeysuckle, gardenia and apricot aromas. Lush flavors of orange blossom, tangerine, wildflower honey and gentle minerality culminate in a finish with lingering candied orange and ginger. The Helfrich Gewurztraminer is excellent as a dessert wine, or can be paired with lobster, scallops, spicy Asian dishes and soft and aged cheese.
$20, 12.61% alcohol

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

AG Pick: Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace

A birthday. An anniversary. A Wednesday. If you’re looking for a Champagne alternative to celebrate a special occasion or are just in the mood for a glass of bubbly, try a bottle of the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace Brut. Made using the traditional method like Champagne but costing around $20, it’s a bottle you can enjoy any night of the week.

Helfrich Cremant d'AlsaceCrémant is sparkling wine from France that is made outside of the Champagne region. As indicated by the name, this sparkling wine comes from Alsace, located east of Champagne near the border with Germany. The grapes for the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace come from a vineyard located at the foot of the Vosges Mountains.

Helfrich Cremant d'AlsaceCrémant may be made with a variety of different grapes, not just the ones used in Champagne (those would be Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). The Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace is 100% Pinot Blanc, a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir that thrives in the Alsace region.

Click here for more information on Crémant

This dry sparkling wine is straw yellow in color and has subtle lemon aromas. The citrus notes expand on the palate, with flavors of fresh lemon, white grapefruit, white flowers and toast. With its small bubbles, the Crémant is delicate and fresh in the mouth and culminates in a crisp finish.

In addition to being enjoyed as an aperitif, the Helfrich Crémant d’Alsace can be paired with a variety of foods including seafood, shellfish, hot and cold soups, salads and fruit-based desserts.

$20, 12.1% alcohol by volume

White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

Wines for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Whether you prefer to say “I love you” with something sparkling, sweet or pink, here are wines that are perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Demarie Birbet Brachetto
Roero, Italy
$20, 6.5% alcohol by volume

Lightly sparkling, a touch sweet and a deep magenta hue make Brachetto an ideal sip on Valentine’s Day. This wine comes from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy and is made entirely from the Brachetto grape. Like Prosecco, Brachetto gets its bubbles from the Charmat method.

The Demarie Birbet Brachetto has flavors of ripe raspberry, strawberry and cherry, with floral notes of rose and violet. Enjoy the Brachetto as an aperitif or with dessert.

 

Biltmore Pas de Deux
Monterey & Arroyo Seco, California
$19, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The Biltmore Estate, a popular destination in Asheville, North Carolina, produces a range of wines using grapes grown at the estate and sourced from California. The Pas de Deux, a gently sweet Methode Champenoise sparkling wine, is made entirely from Muscat Canelli grapes from California’s Central Coast.

Meaning “a dance for two,” the Pas de Deux is meant to be shared with someone special. It has round flavors of orange, lemon, white raspberry and wildflower honey, with small and energetic bubbles. Enjoy the Biltmore Pas de Deux as an aperitif or with lightly sweet or cream based dishes.

Click here for more sparkling wine suggestions

 

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2011
Alsace, France
$30, 14% alcohol by volume

If it’s flowers you enjoy giving or receiving on Valentine’s Day, then Gewurztraminer is the grape for you. This white wine is extremely aromatic – take a sniff and you may be able to smell honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia and rose.

The gentle sweetness in the Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer is nicely balanced with mouth-tingling acidity. Flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine and a hint of white chocolate culminate in a pleasing finish that has a lingering touch of orange blossom honey. Oysters are a great pairing with the Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer, as are other shellfish, seafood, and spicy dishes.

 

Domaine de Triennes Rosé 2011
Var, France
$18, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The French know love – and rosé wine. This rosé from Provence is a partnership of two of Burgundy’s great estates: Aubert de Villane, co-owner of Domaine Romanee-Conti and Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac. The wine is mainly made from Cinsault, with some Grenache and a dash of Merlot.

Light peachy-pink in color, the Triennes Rosé is elegant and aromatic with red fruit and floral notes. Round flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and a hint of herbes de Provence come together in a clean, dry finish.

Mini Rosé 2010
Languedoc, France
$11, 11% alcohol by volume

This rosé from southwest France is made from the Cinsault grape. Pale salmon in color, the Mini Rosé has delicate flavors of white raspberry, strawberry and red grapefruit with refreshing acidity. Enjoy this wine with fish, grilled chicken, salad or pasta. Bonus: with only 87 calories per glass, you won’t feel guilty consuming a few extra pieces of chocolate.

 

Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage 2011
Wellington, South Africa
$20, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Smoky and seductive, the Dark Lady Pinotage is sure to spice up your Valentine’s Day. This red wine from South Africa offers a unique alternative to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Intense aromas of smoked meat, leather and black fruit introduce a palate of blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, mocha and pipe tobacco. The wine has a silky mouthfeel, with gentle tannins and a long, satisfying finish. This wine demands to be served with a steak.

AG Pick Under $20: Jean Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace Brut Reserve

If you’re looking for a nice bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate the New Year, skip Champagne and head farther east in France to Alsace. Crémant D’Alsace is a sparkling wine made in the traditional Champenoise method but doesn’t carry the same price tag as Champagne. For the taste and the cost, Crémant D’Alsace is hard to beat.

The Alsace region is on the eastern border of France, adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. Crémant D’Alsace is mostly made from Pinot Blanc grapes but may also contain Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

My pick for a great Crémant D’Alsace is the Brut Reserve from Jean Albrecht. I found it for $17.99 at my local wine and spirits store. It’s a Blanc de Blanc made from 100% Pinot Blanc. It’s a beautiful pale straw yellow in color with small energetic bubbles. The taste is subtle and delicate. It’s dry and crisp with light toast and a hint of apricot. The gentle fruit flavor makes this sparkling wine really enjoyable to drink. It’s just the right amount to serve to people who like their sparkling wine dry, and will please the palates of people who prefer some sweetness. Champagne drinkers may be converted to Crémant D’Alsace drinkers after trying a glass.

The complex and delicious taste at a relatively low price point makes Jean Albrecht’s Crémant D’Alsace Brut Reserve a great value. It’s a sparkling wine I’m looking forward to serving at my New Year’s Eve party.