Tag Archives: Pinot Gris

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.

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: La Crema Monterey Pinot Gris

La Crema, the California winery that produces consistently good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, has just released a new white wine: the La Crema 2012 Monterey Pinot Gris.

La Crema Pinot GrisWhat made La Crema interested in Pinot Gris after decades of focusing on two grapes? “We were intrigued with this varietal because it gave us the chance to create a white wine in a different style, yet with the nuance, delicacy and texture for which we’re known,” writes winemaker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas.

The grapes come from the cool coastal vineyards of Monterey in Central California, about 200 miles south of La Crema’s home in the Russian River Valley. The fruit was hand harvested during cool morning and evening hours and cold fermented in 100% stainless steel to preserve the fresh fruit character.

Delicate citrus and floral aromas introduce a palate of crisp fruit flavors. Pear, white peach, white grapefruit, lime zest and lemon mix with star fruit and a hint of white pepper. Good minerality and refreshing acidity add structure, and the finish is clean with lingering lemon peel.

The La Crema 2012 Monterey Pinot Gris costs approximately $20 a bottle.

13.5% alcohol by volume

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

Big Table Farm: Wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley

By Robin Alix Austin

It is impossible to meet Brian Marcy and Clare Carver and not fall in love with Big Table Farm. The winemaker/artist team produces outstanding wines from their 70 acre farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The name comes from a desire to provide a gracious and welcoming table for enjoying handcrafted wine and food with friends. On the farm Brian and Clare have chickens, pigs and cows, in addition to a large garden. They are in the multi-year process of planting a vineyard; Big Farm Table’s current releases are made with grapes purchased from other growers.

I first tasted Big Table Farm’s wines at last year’s High Museum Wine Auction. Their Pinot Noir and Syrah were among my favorite wines at the trade tasting. At this year’s High Museum Wine Auction, Big Table Farm’s wines were of the same high quality.

What initially attracted me to Big Table Farm’s wine is the whimsical label art. Clare draws these images, inspired by life on their farm. The artistry continues inside the bottle, with Brian’s finesse.

The chanterelle label is Big Table Farm’s 2010 Riesling, made with grapes from Brooks Estate Vineyard. The wine is barrel-fermented in neutral oak and left on the lees for 10 months. This is a dry Riesling, with notes of white flowers, lemon and almond that are balanced with fresh acidity.

The wine with grass on the label is the 2010 Pinot Gris from Wirtz Vineyard. What makes this white wine interesting beyond its taste is its pale orange color. Similar to how red wine is made, the skin was left on the grapes for a short time as they were fermenting. In addition to the color, the skin adds a touch of tannin to the wine. Notes of orange peel, raspberry, watermelon and spice make this a fun wine to sip.

Pigs and a steer are the images for Big Table Farm’s two Pinot Noirs. Don and Roger (the pigs) are on the label for the 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Ronnie the steer is on the 2010 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir. It’s Ronnie’s second time appearing on a label; as a calf he was pictured on the 2009 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Last year I wrote of the 2009 Pinot Noir, “[this is] Oregon Pinot at its finest . . . a must-taste for Pinot Noir fans.” I feel just as strongly about the 2010 Pinots. The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is fresh and juicy with flavors of cherry, raspberry, cola and spice. The Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir spent 10 months aging on the lees in 30% new French oak, which adds layers of vanilla, licorice and brown sugar to the ripe berry palate.

As with all of Big Table Farm’s wines, these Pinots are unfined and unfiltered.

Big Table Farm’s wine with the flatware artwork is the 2009 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. This wine spent 22 months in 30% new French oak. Elegant and rich, the Syrah has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, black pepper and cinnamon, with a long, satisfying finish.

From their table to yours, Big Table Farm’s wines are a real pleasure to drink.

For more information on Big Table Farm visit bigtablefarm.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.

AG Pick Under $20: Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris 2009

Nearly three years after launching The Amateur Gastronomer, I’m writing my first AG Pick article on a Pinot Gris.

Why, when I’ve sought to write about a wide variety of grapes and wines, did I somehow manage to neglect this one?  It’s mostly because I don’t drink a lot of Pinot Gris, or its Italian incarnation Pinot Grigio.

Taste is the main factor with the Italian wines.  So that I don’t insult any fans or producers, I’ll politely say that I generally find Pinot Grigio a little too subtle in flavor.

Closer to home, the American Pinot Gris I recently sipped have had funky vegetal and wet moss notes that didn’t really appeal to me.

I’m not against drinking Pinot Gris, it’s just that none of the ones I’ve tasted have really stood out.  That changed earlier this week, when a wine consultant friend brought a bottle of the 2009 Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris to a blind tasting.  From the taste analysis through the final reveal, this Oregon white was a big hit.

First a little background on Pinot Gris.  As its name suggests, this grape is related to Pinot Noir.  With its similar DNA profile, leaves and vines, Pinot Gris is believed to be a mutation of Pinot Noir.  Its name also suggests its color.  Gris, meaning gray in French, refers to the grayish-blue color of the grapes.  Besides France, Italy and the United States, Pinot Gris is grown in numerous regions around the world including South America, Australia and Canada.

The Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris comes from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled after three months.

If you like the crisp acidity of a Chenin Blanc, try this Pinot Gris.  Bright pale yellow in color, the wine has aromas of green apple and lemongrass.  These notes are further expressed on the palate, along with Bartlett pear, honeydew and fresh apricot.  The dry fruit flavors are complemented by flinty minerality and refreshing acidity.  The finish is clean, with a hint of spearmint.

The Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris pairs nicely with fish like cod, trout and poached salmon, as well as light pasta dishes or mild cheeses.

A bottle of the Van Duzer Estate Pinot Gris 2009 costs $16.

12.8% alcohol by volume