Having finally got off the Gatwick tarmac, roving Michelin-starred chef and reporter, Roger Jones, finally starts trying the wines of Alsace. But where does his allegiance lie within the party – is it with the UK wine scribes or with some of the UK’s top sommeliers?
Discovering Alsace: Day Two. Roger Jones decides to go out with the UK sommeliers for a ‘quick drink’ and then gets an invite to meet the ‘ladies of Alsace’.
The invite was to meet the ladies of Alsace – Divines D’Alsace, clearly the young sommeliers were keen to explore this invitation, our group of 15 Brits were lined up ready in reception awaiting our transportation, but were surprised when a rather large coach arrived, but it soon filled up with other wine tourists, tour parties from Australia, Canada and numerous European countries.
On arrival at the cellars of Jean Baptiste Adam we were met by the wonderful collection of women affiliated to Alsace wine, there are more than 70 ‘divine’ ladies involved in this project all devoted to the promotion of Alsace wines, whether they are wine makers, wives, public relations or sales staff all of these women have a huge devotion and pleasure in representing this region.
Besides showcasing their wines they had also arranged food stations to highlight each grape variety, wonderful sea salty oysters with Riesling to opulent rich Munster cheese with sweet aged Gewürztraminer.
There were many highlights, firstly in the Cremant D’Alsace, possibly not the best marketing name for sparkling wines. There were two stand out wines, firstly Eventus 2010 from Domaine Paul Buecher. A 50 /50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir aged in 2 year old Burgundy barrels, this has a luxurious long lingering mouth filling flavour with clean bright citrus acidity at the end to clean the palate, on first taste it is quite full but then evolves and becomes very exciting, with a clean mineral citrus finish.
The second Cremant that highlighted the quality that one can achieve with these wines was a full bodied Clement Klur Brut, this was definitely in the Krugist bracket, a touch oxidised in a good way, rich brioche and opulent stone fruit.
Walking around the stalls enjoying the company of the producers certainly brought to light the importance of women in the wine industry, and I hope that this initiative is followed in other wine regions.
There were many other highlights like a Pinot Blanc aged in Burgundian barrels and exciting Pinots but the report on these will have to wait till after the main event which is happening today, Millésimes Alsace, where every producer in Alsace is showing their profile to a world audience. Fascinating that they have persuaded high profile journalists such as Huon Hooke and Nick Ryan all the way from Australia to attend this celebration.
Back to the real main event – how are the UK journalists and sommeliers getting along together? Luckily I played my sommelier card last night and joined the cream of the UK sommeliers on a tour of the local late night bars, the only journalist who joined the party was Jonny Ray, and fair play to the fine gentleman of the wine industry he did do his best but retired after the first calling point, I think the sharing 8 pint lager jug was off-putting for him.
The enthusiasm that these sommeliers have about Alsace wines is brilliant, they are keen to embrace the whole ethos and encourage the sales of these wines, they take in everything with abundance, and are a wealth of knowledge and friendship.
Today as I mentioned is the main event and I am looking forward to getting behind the story of Alsace wines, why two or three well known houses have been so successful in the UK whilst others have struggled to make an inroad, although from data I have been given it looks like Alsace has significantly grown in the UK in the last year.
Roger Jones is a Michelin Star Chef and recently sat on the judging panel of The Moet UK Sommelier of The Year.