12 Days of Vinebox: Day 9

2 01 2019

By Peter Vetsch

Sicily update:  the streak is over!  Ask and ye shall receive.  After a rather bizarre run of three straight bottles in this dozen from Italy’s most prolific wine island, our request to the cosmos for variety has been granted with fervour, as we are off to the German-est (and thus potentially the best) part of France, Alsace…where, incidentally, my Vetsch family ancestors apparently hailed from five or six or seven generations ago.  Maybe that’s why I love Riesling so much.  Alsace is something of a mystery to me from a vinous perspective, because despite producing solidly priced and consistently high-quality wines, and despite being one of the few Old World locales to actually consider the casual-drinking consumer enough to place grape varietal names on their labels, the region is almost always a hard sell in our market.  Perhaps adopting the white wine focus, gothic scripts and tall fluted bottles from its German forefathers was not the best marketing decision after all.  But when the wine is in a test tube as opposed to a flute…now we’re talking.

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The non-Sicilian wine in question is the 2016 Pierre Henri Ginglinger Riesling, yet another Vinebox offering about which Internet information is strangely nigh-unavailable.  Maybe they are so eager to give you a surprise in the box that they have shut down all worldly sources of data about the bottlings they select.  Maybe their chosen producers have to sign the mother of all NDAs.  Either way, I speak of family estates and generational turnover with admiration quite a bit, but THIS…this is that on an absurd scale.  The Ginglinger family first planted vines in 1610, and generation number TWELVE is currently at the controls of the estate.  Come on.  Their winery building looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel, nestled in the centre of the medieval town of Eguisheim, which is closer to Freiburg in Germany than the Alsatian hub of Strasbourg and is the birthplace of wine in Alsace; the winery’s appearance may have something to do with the fact that it was built in 1684, trivia so good that it makes an appearance on not only Ginglinger’s bottles, but even its Vinebox vial:

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Bricks Wine Advent Calendar 2018: Day 10

10 12 2018

By Raymond Lamontagne

Riesling. I’ve been waiting for this Advent moment. In his delightful book “Reading Between The Wines”, Terry Theise proposes that Riesling is the greatest of all wine grapes, stating that nothing else so perfectly captures the essence of the land. Riesling is said to repress its own very nature in favour of serving as a pure conduit through which soil, climate, sunlight, farming practices, and the like can shine through: a changeling that mirrors the terroir. I’m not entirely sure about this, as I find Riesling pretty distinctive on the palate heedless of the wine region. Perhaps I’m being overly analytical. The sentiment is beautiful, and such a grape-land symbiosis likely fuels the ability to great Rieslings to provide a spiritual experience (if you believe wine can do such a thing… And I do).

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Alsace Rieslings typically have less floral character than their German counterparts, often showing rather firm and lean in their youth. In the best vintages this austere baseline eventually blossoms into wines that can seem rather rich and “big”, but able to reflect vineyard character as adeptly as their German counterparts. Alsace is the driest wine region in France, far away from maritime influence and with the Vosges mountains providing further shelter. This warm, dry climate allows grapes to ripen slowly, yielding good aromas but not at the expense of acidity. Many top producers consider Riesling to be the most noble of the Alsace noble varieties, albeit one that can be difficult to work with due to its late-ripening proclivities and aforementioned responsiveness to site variation. Unlike the soft and immediately aromatic Gewurztraminer, Alsace Riesling requires patience, a dedicated cellar master with a fine attention to detail in the vineyard but a corresponding savvy around what to leave well enough alone during the winemaking itself. Enter the Hugel family. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2009 Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer (Alsace)

25 08 2011

Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer -- most Teutonic non-German producer/grape combo ever?

Two points of order before I start.  First, PnP cleared 6,000 hits sometime this afternoon — thanks again for your continued support of this site!  Second, this is post #95 for Pop & Pour, which means you have five more posts to cast your vote for the wine I should review for the PnP 100th Post Celebration Gala (n0te:  no actual Gala will be organized).  Click here to go to the poll and vote for your favourite; if you’ve already voted, vote again!  Currently it’s a dead heat between the 2008 Caymus Napa Cab and the 2006 Gaja Brunello, so help me break the tie…there has to be a defined winner before the 100th post review can take place.

Now, to tonight, and Gewurztraminer.  To me Gewurz is the ultimate love/hate grape:  most people either adore its bold, assertive, unique flavours and rich texture or they despise its lushness, its spiciness, its high alcohol and almost suffocating intensity.  There aren’t too many in between (although, strangely, I’m one of them, which might cast some doubt on my theory); a grape this individual almost forces you to take sides.  It’s not a casual patio sipper or a light crisp refresher that pairs with a ton of foods, and it doesn’t really resemble any of the more well-known varietals like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, so there’s no real way to ease into it.  What it is is a high-octane, enormously-perfumed flavour powerhouse that can be both entrancing and overwhelming. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2006 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve

29 06 2011

Long time no PnP!  Sorry about that — I was away on the weekend and discovered both at the time and after coming back that trip-related schedule lulls are multiplied tenfold when babies are involved.  However, I am now back in the saddle and again devoted to reducing my cellar one bottle at a time.  Tonight’s wine seemed like a promising combination:  a region (Alsace, France), producer (Trimbach) and varietal (Pinot Gris) that I love, all at a bargain price (I think this bottle was $17).  Too good to be true?  Oh yes.

"Reserve" is the wine equivalent of "part of a nutritious breakfast".

For those of you wondering if Pinot Gris has any relation to Pinot Grigio, the Italian white that I reviewed a few wines ago, they’re actually the exact same grape, although they usually manifest themselves in the bottle in very different ways.  Pinot Grigio is grown and made to be light, crisp, refreshing and neutral-tasting, whereas Pinot Gris is much fuller, lusher, riper and more flavourful.  If you taste classic examples of the two back to back, you wouldn’t believe they were the same grape.  Pinot Grigio’s home is northeast Italy, while Pinot Gris is best known from Alsace, where it is one of four “noble grapes” allowed to be in the region’s top Grand Cru wines (the others, if you’re curious, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat).  I personally prefer the Gris to the Grigio, as I find it more interesting and think it has much more personality in the glass.  Even better, like many Alsatian wines, it can be a value:  I’ve seen Grand Cru Pinot Gris on sale for less than $30 a bottle.  It’s also consumer-friendly, because all Alsatian wines actually list the grape on the bottle label, unlike the wines from almost every other spot in France. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2003 Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence Gewurztraminer Furstentum Grand Cru (375 mL)

1 05 2011

Grand Cru, baby. That's how we roll.

I don’t usually buy wines and then drink them immediately, but I couldn’t bring myself to wait on this one.  I was in Aspen Wine & Spirits yesterday to see what was on special when I noticed these half-bottles of back-vintage Alsatian Grand Cru Gewurztraminer selling for $28.  Like many other older wines available at AW&S, these used to be inventory of another wine store that went under a little while ago; as these library wines near their peak drinking window and the urgency to sell them increases, their prices drop accordingly.  I was told that the $28 selling price for the Weinbach was close to the store’s cost and that these half-bottles usually run around the $50 mark at normal retail prices.  I bought one about 0.02 seconds later. Read the rest of this entry »








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