A day touring a fairy tale land

After leaving Burgundy last Thursday, we drove to Colmar and spent Friday touring wineries in Alsace. For those who have not been to Alsace, it is one of the most visually beautiful areas I have ever visited. Even if you don’t like wine (which does not include anyone on this board), the place is worth visiting just for the beauty. The small villages like Colmar (which is not so small), Ribeauville, Kaysersberg, Kientzheim, Wettolsheim and Bergheim are unbelievably beautiful.

But, for those of us who like wine, there is another attraction. The wines here can be outstanding, esp. if one visits top producers like we did Friday. We first stopped at Trimbach, which has long been my favorite producers of wines from Alsace. We were met by Anne Trimbach there, who was kind enough to give us a tour of their winery and open a lot (a very lot) of wines for us to taste. I feel somewhat like on this trip we began to see some of the new generation of wineries in Burgundy and Alsace - Ray Walker, Cecile Tremblay and Anne Trimbach. These wine regions are in very good hands.

The wines from Trimbach are unbelievably good. We had too many wines to list them all, but highlights included a 2005 Riesling Cuvee Frederick Emile, a 2005 Clos St. Hune, a 1985 Cuvee Frederick Emile, a 2002 riesling VT, a 2001 SGN cuvee Frederick Emile and a 1989 SGN Gewurztraminer. WOW. What wines. the Clos St. Hune seem more accessable than most I have had before at this age. Interesting. Doesn’t matter. Seems really good and I am sure it will age superbly.

The 1985 Cuvee Frederick Emile was different from any other Trimbach wine I have had before. It tasted a good bit older than a 1990 VT I had a few weeks back. It was full of secondary flavors and aromas and not as much fruit. It had a slightly truffley, “oxidized” nose that reminded me a bit of mature Vouvray, and then as the wine opened up had a bit of chocoalte powder, a bit of petrol and lots of other flavors I cannot name. Really fascinating stuff. I have never had a riesling that tasted quite like this - fascinating.

Just a great visit.

At Paul Blanck, our second visit, we were met by Frederick Blanck. I had not had any of their wines before and so was looking at the wines fresh. I was tremendously impressed. These are very precise wines. M. Blanck would not like me saying this but these are very much Alsace wines for German wine lovers. Not that they were sweet - they were not, at least not until the late-harvest wines - but they were very precise. We tasted about a dozen wines, but a few really stood out to me for comment. First, the combination of three grand cru rieslings, a rich a honeyed Sommerberg 2007, a minerally elegant Schlossberg 2008 and a richer more majestic (dare I say Rheingau-like) Furstentum 2005. I just love it when wines show their terroir like this and these clearly did.

Another wine I really liked there was a 2009 basic Gewurztraminer. We had more intense Gewurz’s during our time in Alsace, but this one may well have been the prettiest. While drinking it, I kept hearing M. Blanck saying in my head, buy wines to drink, not to put away forever.

Our last visit of the day was at Albert Mann where we were warmly shown the wines by Maurice Barthelme. I don’t have my notes of the wines we had at the office with me today (I left them at home and will supplement later). I have long been a fan of these wines and Friday was no exception. These wines are richer than the more precise Blanck wines, but were no less good. One of the fascinating things there was that we tasted the same pair of rieslings, a Schlossberg and a Furstentum as we did at Paul Blanck. The wines seemed made differently and tasted a bit different, but the differences between the two terroirs remained. There were a common thread among the two Schlossbergs and among the two Furstentums. Great wines also. Another riesling to look for here is the Rosenberg. Really good stuff.

Then, M. Barthelme joined Panos, Michael Lux and his wife Valerie and my friends and travel companions for the week David and Carmen for a wonderful dinner in Bergheim. On the way there, he took us for a tour of the nearby towns in Alsace and gave us some of their history. WW II hit this region hard and it is wonderful to see how beautiful it has become again.

Dinner was just magnificent. We started with a very nice bottle of Champagne, then had a Trimbach 2001 Cuvee Frederick Emile 375th Anniversay Riesling. Great wine, simply wonderful, but I am not sure that it is enough better than the outstanding 2001 CFE regular Riesling to justify the higher price. Then we had three Burgundies. A simply magificent 2002 NSG Chaignots from Georges Mugneret. This wine started out a bit closed but really opened up over the course of the evening and just had so much to it. A 2007 Rossignol-Trapet Latricieres Chambertin was a beautiful wine in a very different way. It is full of rich, ripe fruit, but did not have the complexity of the NSG. I think the difference is the vintage and the style of winemaking. Two very different wines, both very nice. We also had a 2002 MSD Bussieres from Roumier. This is also a beautiful wine but is very closed at the moment. Maybe we should have stuck around a couple of hours more, but it was already after 11:00 when we left. It was a treat to have this wine, but I would hold any bottles for a few more years.

The punctuation mark to this evening and really to our week was a Albert Mann 2005 Gewurztraminer SGN that M. Barthelme gratiously provided. What a truly rich, great and majestic wine. Spectacular.

Friday night, great friends, great restaurant, great food, great wines, great friends, sitting outside in great weather. Life does not get any better.

Lovely and engaging report, Howard. I have not had nearly as much Trimbach as I’d like to try. Mann and Blanck have been two of my favourites outside Z-H for a while now. Amazing that you got to try the 89 SGN Gewurtz and the 01 SGN Clos, very special. And I’m not surprised that you lured Panos out for some shenanigans as well.

Look forward to (hopefully) catching up in person in October.

Mike, I look forward to seeing you. Also, if you have not been to Alsace, I highly recommend visiting.

Sounds like a great trip Howard, hope you and Nancy had a ball. Having just returned from the Loire, I can’t say I’m that jealous as we had a fabulous trip, but I still was trying to figure out how to squeeze out a couple days in Burgundy lol. Next time the future Mrs. understands that all vacations (or at least one of every 3 or so) lead to Burgundy. Now we may have to include Alsace as well. That’s great that you got to have dinner with Panos- It will be fun next time we dine to hear your recollections. Cheers!

That was exactly my reaction when I was poured their basic riesling a year or so ago. I haven’t paid much attention to Alsatian wines for a long time – too many flabby disappointments – but the Blanck made me sit up precisely because it was so, well, precise.

Great report! Thanks Howard.

It was a real pleasure to meet you and Nancy as well as David and Carmen, and Panos and Maurice Barthelme of course, for that superb dinner in Bergheim.
The Champagne was “Ulysse Collin”, made by Olivier Collin in Congy. I find superb finesse and minerality in his wines, this was a bottle from the 2005 vintage, disgorged in 2008. The 2001 CFE 375th was brilliant riesling. I think it’s superior to the regular cuvee but the price difference, indeed, is not justified… though more justified than the price difference with Clos Ste Hune… I agree the 2002 NSG Les Chaignots from Georges Mugneret had a lot to it, complexity, minerality, depth… earthy elegance on a more rustic terroir… it will be truly superb in something like 5 years, I guess. The 2007 Latricieres from Rossignol-Trapet was a great wine. It had very good depth and energy. If not overly powerful, it had a very good density and I liked its earth feel very much. The 2002 MSD “Clos de la Bussiere” from Roumier was completely closed at the beginning and only gave a hint of what it would be after one hour in the glass. It gave the sense of rusticity I expect from this wine with a rather “ripe” feeling but indeed, needs to be revisited in many years… which is exactly what I thought a few years back. Let’s hope the next try is the good one :slight_smile: … the 2005 SGN Gewurztraminer Furstentum from Albert Mann was truly magnificent. This had all a dessert wine should have in my eyes. Complex, floral, rich and sweet but with superb balance against acidity and a true sense of elegance… a real achievement.

You cannot put it better than what you said:
“Friday night, great friends, great restaurant, great food, great wines, great friends, sitting outside in great weather. Life does not get any better.”

“The 2001 CFE 375th was brilliant riesling. I think it’s superior to the regular cuvee but the price difference, indeed, is not justified… though more justified than the price difference with Clos Ste Hune”

I very much enjoyed the 375, and the price at the restaurant is quite good. However, you have explained why I have a lot of the CFE and only a bit of CSH.

“the 2005 SGN Gewurztraminer Furstenstum from Albert Mann was truly magnificent.”

Found two bottles of this at Woodland Hills yesterday at a great price (about $35 or so for a 1/2 bottle). [welldone.gif] So, I will get to have this again. More incentive for you to come to DC? [cheers.gif]

Meeting you and Nancy again is the greatest incentive… but I will definitely not turn down a glass of this wine [cheers.gif]

And you remind me that I really have to visit Maurice Barthelme! … Valerie cannot come though. Not enough space in the car for the return journey…

I see you have your priorities straight… [cheers.gif]

Great report Howard! This is a region I’m dying to visit someday soon.


Even if you don’t like the wines, the region is worth a visit. It is really beautiful.

But the wines will not all be for you, right? [rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]

absolutely not, you’re welcome to save some for me. I’ll even promise to install UNC somewhere in my Top-10 preseason for Basketball [grin.gif]

I had forgotten to mention that the 2000 Mugneret Chaignots is holding forth as my WOTY so far this year.

I am enjoying Panos’ continuing discovery of Burg Nation.

Me too. Panos, correct me if I am wrong, but I think the 1983 Mongeard-Mugneret Echezaux I opened for you a few years back was about the first Burgundy you had that you really liked? So, I have a bit of pride in this.

It was a great time indeed. I am sorry I could not join in for the day visits, but am happy that the Paul Blanck discovery was positive. I had met Frederic a few years ago and love his wines. I agree about the precision! And of course Trimbach is just terrific as is Albert Mann.

The dinner was superb. I really liked the price/quality ratios for the food and the wine, and the fact that they allow BYOW for such a good price is also worth the hour drive from Strasbourg! The Wistub du Sommelier will get to know me more often :slight_smile:

Here my notes on the dinner wines:

For me, the Ulysse Collin Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut was utterly delicious. Pure and dry, yet rich red apple and even a smokiness on the palate. Yum!

The 375th anniversary edition of the famous Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling from Trimbach 2001 displayed superb precision! Hint of petrol, citrus elements, sleek and yet rich on the palate.

While the Georges Roumier Morey St Denis Clos de la Bussiere 02 was a tad closed, it displayed intriguing charcoal notes, and seemed the most youthful of all the reds: rich dark cherry, very full bodied if somewhat brooding. The Mugneret-Gibourg Nuits St Georges Les Chaignots 02 on the other hand was like sex in a bottle. Musk, cinnamon, iron earthiness, and yet dark fruit driven and rich on the palate, with a note of fresh acidity on the finish. It just kept getting better in glass.

The Rossignol-Trapet Latricieres Chambertin GC 07 meanwhile displayed fine depth for the vintage, with an enchanting aroma of wet stone, light cherry and hints of red licorice. Excellent finesse. Along with the other reds, it went very well with the côtelettes d’agneau in rosemary…

Finally the Albert Mann SGN Gewürztraminer 2005 exuded a crystaline raspberry brightness with floral elements on the nose that invited drinking, the palate was opulent yet rather disciplined by excellent acidity, balancing the 140 or so grams of sugar per liter: marvelous!

great reflections on an area that I have enjoyed visiting a few years ago.
Michael Lux…when is the next trip to New York?

Wonderful read.
Thanks so much Howard.

Howard, of course, the bottles are not all for me… I would not possibly buy too much wine, would I? … [highfive.gif]

Michel… Yes, you do not mess with priorities [thumbs-up.gif] … and I’m waiting for you in Alsace… quand tu veux [cheers.gif]

Suzanne, I would love to come back to NYC… nothing planned for the time being, though… maybe late September with Valerie. I’ll take an extra luggage for the cheese [wow.gif]

flirtysmile [welldone.gif]

Don’t forget some real saucisson sec…

For those of you who do not understand this exchange, Michael and I were going over our favorite wine excuses Friday night. One that we have both used with our wives when they see large credit card bill, cases of wine coming into the house, etc., is that it is not all my wine - some of it belongs to [insert names of friends].