If I’m being completely honest with you, I’m not nuts about much of what comes from Alsace, wine-wise. A good chunk of it is off dry or late harvest, and almost all of the total production is white. A couple of these white varieties include such effusively perfumed grapes as Gewurztraminer and Muscat, acid-shy lightweights like Auxerrois and Chasselas, and I find the Rieslings often to be a bit heavy and clumsy. All that said, with the possible exception of the Gewurz’ (just don’t dig it), I’ve drunk some nice examples of wines made from all of these grapes, but I also couldn’t say that there were seven dozen of them crawling up my pant leg either…
BUT, there are a few swaths of earth in this Franco-Teutonic march land turning out uniquely built Pinot Noir that I usually find very interesting (but that’s another post altogether) and along with one or two other white wines, there is Tokay-Pinot Gris, a.k.a. Pinot Gris (a.k.a. Pinot Grigio). For my palate and wallet, Pinot Gris is where it’s at in Alsace in terms of white wine. And though we’re talking about the very same variety that is made into uncountable bottles 0f innocuous plonk in several northern Italian regions, this pink/light red-skinned (yes!) grape can be made into lovely rose’ wines, as well as big, dense, spunky, spicy, fruit-packed traditional blockbuster white wines like this one.
With limited time, access, and let’s face it, the overall somewhat limited breadth of Alsatian cuisine, I faked an Alsatian dinner with an appetizer of spread of fromage blanc, crispy, crumbled bacon, cornichons, chives and parsley, smeared on black whole grain bread, and then grilled thinly-sliced fresh ham cutlets marinated in white wine, vinegar, onions garlic, cloves, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, on a bed of sauerkraut.
Dirler Tokay-Pinot Gris Schimberg 2002
Slightly greenish lightly burnished golden color. Complex and intense nose of melon, apricot, nut butter, sliced pineapple, minerals, and acacia flowers. The wine enters the palate with great weight and considerable viscosity. It is rich and well built, but still very clean, cohesive, and moderately crisp with opulently layered flavors of brioche, egg custard, tangerine, peach nectar, kiwi, and white spices. The wine finishes with very good length and delicate flavors of chanterelle mushrooms. Not a trace of heat despite the 14% alcohol. What your Alsatian opa might call a fruit bomb if he knew what one was.