The top 13 best new wines from Alsace judged by an IWSC panel of Roger Jones, Eric Zwiebel MS, David Kermode, and Rebecca Palmer – and incorporating a range of grapes and styles. The panel had to narrow down more than 90 Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Cremant d’Alsace into 12 wines that will be showcased at trade events by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace. Trouble was, the wines were of such a standard this year that 13 made the cut.
Roger Jones, Eric Zwiebel MS, David Kermode, and Rebecca Palmer select the 13 top wines from Alsace
As a restaurateur, I have always been impressed by our clients’ knowledge of Alsace. I have fond memories of an alfresco Alsace tasting on our terrace some eight years ago when nearly 90 guests turned up. It would seem the local public of Wiltshire had a better knowledge and love of Alsace than the trade. And good for them, as it’s a region with wines well worth discovering.
Alsace is a mini region of its own, with both French and German spoken there. This northern wine region of France is an amazing outpost for some of the world’s finest aromatic wines. Global demand for AOC still wines from Alsace and Crémants d’Alsace is on the rise, with over 37 million bottles of the regions wines exported last year, up 18% in terms of volume and 19% in value compared to the previous year.
Once again, ahead of 2022’s much-anticipated return of ProWein, the IWSC was asked to bring together a panel of industry experts to agree the wines to be showcased by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) at this year’s trade event. The panel was selected based on each member’s specialist knowledge of the Alsace region and its wines, having collectively visited many times.
Joining me on the panel was Master Sommelier Eric Zwiebel, journalist and broadcaster David Kermode, and Corney & Barrow wine buyer Rebecca Palmer. It was our mission to narrow more than 90 Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Cremant d’Alsace, down to a dozen, agreeing on a tight range to highlight the quality and diversity offered by these wines from Alsace. As you’ll see from the results below, the standard was so high that we ended up settling on a total of 13 star Alsace wines. Read on to discover the 13 bottles that will be on show courtesy of CIVA at ProWein 2022.
AOC Alsace Crémant d’Alsace – 29 tasted
Whilst English sparkling wine is now competing with Champagne for price, it is great to see how well Crémant d’Alsace delivers not only in price when compared to Cava or South African bubbles, but also in the impressive depth and variety in style. I would suggest you check the grapes on the label, which would give you an idea of the style and dryness, with grapes varying from the traditional Chardonnay to Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Auxerrois. These wines are rather popular in France, with 28,631,200 bottles, about 2,386 million cases produced in 2021. Here are our four selections of the sparkling style.Domaine Zinck, Brut NV, Crémant d’Alsace (12.5%)
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc
Residual sugar: 5g/l
Refined, elegant, restrained fizz, with some stone fruit. Evolves beautifully on the palate, delicate refined acidity, hint of cream on the finish giving it a silky edge. 36 months on lees.Domaine Viticole de la Ville de Colmar, Cuvée 1895 Brut NV, Crémant d’Alsace (12.8%)
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Residual sugar: 7.8g/l
Touch of perfume on nose, nectarines with a nice fizz, lingers but with a fresh finish. Elegant and refined. 18 months on lees.
Dopff au Moulin, Brut 2017, Crémant d’Alsace (12.0%)
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Residual sugar: 3.2g/l
Ripe and focused, sweet-fruited with a clean crispness. Chardonnay-led with stone fruit, there is a good dry finish, a hint of brioche and evolving bright acidity with pink grapefruit. 24 months on lees.
Arthur Metz, Terroir Schiste Brut NV, Crémant d’Alsace (12.5%)
Grape Varieties: Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris
Residual sugar: 6.5g/l
Appealing nose, fresh and vibrant, perfumed and with a hint of chalk, lemon sherbet and baked Bramley apples. Luscious. 12 months on lees.
AOC Alsace Riesling – 37 tasted
Alsace Rieslings are always impressive. With a border that mirrors the vineyards of Baden in Germany, it is no wonder these Rieslings are so sought after. The spectrum of flavours, from dry to luscious, is important to note, and labels now often indicate the level of dryness. Although some have residual sugar, generally these wines tend toward the drier end of the spectrum.
The sunny, dry weather of the region means the wines tend to be opulent with a clean, focused acidity and a pleasurable minerality. Flavours range from pears, apples, stone fruit, citrus, floral and spices. Soil is also important, with a great mix of granite, limestone, schist and sandstone giving a perfect grounding to that crisp Riesling style.
The 2019 Rieslings have in general a refined elegance to them, whilst those from 2018 have more complexity, but as with all Rieslings, the more age you allow the better they will evolve. Here are our five star Rieslings from the tasting.
Paul Ginglinger, Riesling 2019, Alsace Grand Cru Pfersigberg (13.3%)
Residual sugar: 3.5g/l
Juicy, fresh, vibrant. Evolves seamlessly in glass with refined elegance and delicate citrus peel. The judges loved the precision and purity of this wine. Organic.
Domaine Kirrenbourg, ‘K’ Riesling 2019, Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg (13.5%)
Residual sugar: 7.6g/l
Focused and full flavoured with fresh, ripe acidity, then layers of apples and delicate stone fruit, plus a hint of citrus pith. Biodynamic.
Huber & Bleger, Eclat du Terroir Riesling 2019, Alsace (13.0%)
Residual sugar: 3.8g/l
Pronounced tropical notes accompanied by restrained, focused, linear lime. Some kaffir and gentle exotic spices. Clean, wet stone minerality, with a focused, fresh, clean finish. Leaves an exotic perfume feel on the palate.
Cave de Turckheim, Riesling 2018, Alsace Grand Cru Brand (13.0%)
Residual sugar: 6.3g/l
Refined and elegant with a delicate perfume, layered and textured; the purity is quite superb. Needs food, but a stunning Riesling.
Famille Hugel, Grossi Laüe Riesling 2012, Alsace (12.4%)
Residual sugar: 7.8g/l
A pure, fresh, young-tasting wine despite the age, with plenty of fresh lime. Pretty perfect, concentrated but focused, this wine will age for decades.
AOC Alsace Gewurztraminer – 28 tasted
Alsace Gewurtztraminers are as majestic as they are mysterious, and we could discuss it for days without even touching the full throttle or refined elegance of these beautiful wines defined not only by age, but also by soil and dosage. Don’t think Grannie’s talc and old-fashioned violet perfume, think vibrancy: bars of Cadbury Fry’s Turkish Delight; spices and succulence. Some can taste of Christmas dried fruits and nuts with juicy stone fruit and piercing freshness, others can also be sweet and seductive, depending on the dryness of the wine.
Gewurztraminer is such a beautiful wine to go with food, and you do not have to follow the traditional Alsace style of food, although it is a pretty good match. There is so much weight and texture to these wines that they can spread their wings and go with a full range of food styles, from pan-Asian cuisine to modern British.
Domaine-Saint-Remy, Gewurztraminer 2019, Alsace Grand Cru Hengst (12.5%)
Residual sugar: 44g/l
Textured, elegant and refined. A layered, full flavoured wine with sweet and sour notes. Enjoy it with some grilled wild salmon, white asparagus and truffles. Biodynamic.
Lucien Albrecht, Gewurztraminer 2017, Alsace Grand Cru Spiegel (14.0%)
Residual sugar: 30g/l
Refined, elegant, racy and clean, with lovely purity and focus. Still young; will age another decade. Try it with oysters with a chilli and shallot vinegar.
Frey-Sohler Gewurztraminer 2015, Alsace Grand Cru Frankstein (13.0%)
Residual sugar: 31.3g/l
Pure expression of aged Gewurztraminer. Wow. Clean, focused, evolving and perfectly moreish – would pair just perfectly with crispy duck or roast chicken.
Véronique & Thomas Muré, Clos Saint Landelin Gewurztraminer 2017, Alsace Grand Cru Vorbourg Vendanges Tardives (13.5%)
Residual sugar: 60g/l
Luxurious, rich and ample, honeyed and textured. Layers and layers of buttery, rich flavours with a crisp acidity to balance the sweetness. Organic.
Representing the winemakers producing and selling AOC Alsace wines, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) looks forward to welcoming international visitors to Stand E74 in Hall 10 at Prowein 2022.