Tag Archives: Pinot Blanc

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.

rose wines

Five Rosé Wines to Enjoy this Summer

The summer of rosé is in full swing! It’s an international love affair, with rosé wine being made around the world from a variety of different grapes.

Try one of these AG picks tonight:

Cune RosadoCune Rosado Rioja 2013
Rioja Alta, Spain

From CVNE (pronounced Coo-nay), a family owned and operated winery founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja, this dry rosé is 100% Tempranillo. Produced using the saignée or bleeding method, the juice was removed from the grape skins and seeds after around 24 to 48 hours, resulting in a magenta-pink color. Floral aromas introduce flavors of strawberry, tart cherry and red currant.
$14, 14% alcohol by volume

Esporao Defesa RoséEsporão Vinha da Defesa Rosé 2013
Alentejo, Portugal

Established in 1973, Herdade do Esporão is a family-owned estate and winery that takes its name from the tower on the property that is thought to have been built between 1457 and 1490. This rosé is a blend of Aragonez and Syrah. The grapes underwent pneumatic pressing after a short period of skin contact. Bright pink in color with berry aromas, the wine has flavors of raspberry, cherry and Victoria plum, with a hint of mint on the refreshing finish.
$15, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Bridge Lane RoséBridge Lane Rosé 2013
North Fork of Long Island, New York

This wine comes from Lieb Cellars, founded in 1992 on Long Island’s North Fork. Lieb was the first winery on Long Island to plant Pinot Blanc, which has become their signature wine and makes up part of the blend in the Bridge Lane rosé. The 2013 wine is 63% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 8% Pinot Blanc, 5% Riesling and 3% Gewurztraminer. Light and easy to drink with a pretty pale pink color, the wine has flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and rose petal.
$18, 11.9% alcohol by volume

Cape Bleue RoséJean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2013
Provence, France

The grapes for this wine from the noted French winemaker come from hilly vineyards near Salon de Provence, an area influenced by the nearby Mediterranean Sea.  It is a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvedre, and was made using the saignée method. Salmon-pink in color,  the aromatic wine will transport you to the South of France. Flavors of ripe strawberry, red cherry and rose are layered with subtle fennel and white pepper notes.
$14, 12.5% alcohol by volume

Houchart RoséDomaine Houchart Rosé 2013
Provence, France

Bought in 1890 by Aurélien Houchart, the 90 hectare estate near Aix-en-Provence and the foot of Mont Sainte Victoire has been consistently farmed since Roman times. Today it is owned by the Quiot Family and run by Geneviève Quiot, Aurélien’s great granddaughter. This Côtes de Provence rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This crowd-pleaser is pale peachy-pink in color, with delicate flavors of strawberry, loganberry and watermelon that culminate in a crisp finish.
$11, 12% alcohol by volume

 

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

A Passion for Terroir at St. Innocent

To hear president and winemaker Mark Vlossak talk about the wines of St. Innocent is like listening to a conductor describe conducting a symphony. Each element in crafting a wine has its own role, whether it’s the grape, soil, weather, yeast or oak (new barrels, used barrels or none). When the winemaker brings together the melody of the grape with the harmony of all other variables, the finished wine is a true work of art.

St Innocent winesSt. Innocent Winery produces small lots of handcrafted, vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and white wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The name comes from the middle name of Mark’s father, though apparently he acted not so innocently every once in a while. Mark aims to produce wines that capture the essence of the grape and the terroir of each site, using oak only when complementary. The texture of each wine is important to Mark, as is its ability to pair with and enhance food.

St. Innocent practices sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming on its estate vineyard of Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and leases blocks of vineyards from other Oregon growers who use these methods.

Mark shared five exceptional wines from St. Innocent Winery during the High Museum Wine Auction:

St. Innocent Chardonnay & Pinot BlancThe 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Blanc is Alsatian in style. Most of the wine was fermented in stainless steel, while a little less than one-third was fermented in neutral barrels; this was done to preserve the delicate fruit flavors while adding texture. The wine spent eight months aging on the lees before it was bottled. The St. Innocent Pinot Blanc has apple, melon and white apricot flavors that mingle with white flowers and ginger. Refreshing minerality and well-balanced acidity add depth and structure. The finish is crisp and dry. The Pinot Blanc is great at lunchtime or with hors d’oeuvres outdoors on a warm evening; it also pairs well with shellfish, ceviche, white fish, salads or Asian or spicy dishes.
($20, 12.5% alcohol)

The 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay is made entirely from Dijon clones. In crafting this wine Mark sought the fully ripened fruit and rich texture of white Burgundy while capturing the terroir of Freedom Hill Vineyard. The grapes were whole cluster pressed, then barrel fermented in used French oak barrels. The wine aged on the lees for one year. The mineral makeup of the vineyard comes through in this Chardonnay, layered with delicate flavors of golden apple, pear and lemon. The finish is clean, with just a whisper of toasted almond. Pair this wine with seafood, risotto, chicken or other small birds.
($24, 13% alcohol)

St. Innocent Pinot NoirThe 2011 Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from Vitae Springs Vineyard and grapes from young vines at Zenith, Freedom Hill and Momtazi Vineyards. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 12 months in 16% new French oak barrels. Red berry and violet aromas introduce a palate of fresh raspberry and cherry, with layers of black pepper and baking spice. Pair the Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir with chicken, pork, full-flavored pasta dishes, duck or sausage. ($24, 12.5% alcohol)

The grapes in the 2010 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir came from the McMinnville AVA in the northern Willamette Valley. After fermentation in small stainless steel barrels and French oak the wine was aged for 16 months in 38% new French oak. Complex and intense, this medium bodied wine has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry and blueberry. These are complemented by earthy notes of spice, black truffle and forest floor. The Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir is silky smooth in the mouth, with gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity. Mark suggests pairing this wine with braised meats, stews, sausages, cassoulet or cheese. ($32, 13% alcohol)

Like the previous wine, the 2010 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir was fermented in small stainless steel barrels and French oak, then spent 16 months aging in French oak barrels (31% new). Rich and elegant, this Pinot Noir has flavors of boysenberry, red currant and olallieberry layered with roasted fig, white pepper, allspice, dried rose petals and a hint of candied orange peel. Pair this wine with hearty chicken or pork dishes, ratatouille, lasagna, grilled lamb or filet mignon. ($42, 13.5%)

For more information on St. Innocent Winery visit stinnocentwine.com.

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.