Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Drinking beautifully right now, with full-bodied ripe peach and lychee sliced by strongly metallic structural elements, a quartzy rock salt finish, and balancing acidity. (8/07)
Trimbach 2002 Pinot Gris “Réserve” Ribeauvillé (Alsace) – Rich spiced pear, almost verging on oily, but with enough backpalate crispness to retain balance. There’s also the typical blackened quartz underbelly…a strange descriptor, I know…which sets this far apart from other pinot gris at its price point. This is a highly reliable wine (except in freak years like 2003), but 2002 verges on exceptional. (8/07)
Barmès Buecher 2004 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – As with the rieslings from this site, Herrenweg gewürztraminer has a persistent problem with structure: it’s usually absent. Worse, the grape’s development is far too often stunted somewhere in the light peach and cashew range, leaving off all the exotic, developed aromas that give the grape its necessary character. Not here. This is a frankly brilliant wine, with intense, burnt-pork spice and blackened, almost Cajun-spiced minerality balanced by fiery acidity and only a very minor dollop of residual sugar (which, given the wine’s other qualities, I may even be mis-identifying). As hard as it is to imagine from this site, this wine has to be ageable. But even if it’s not, the pleasure of current consumption is plentiful. (9/07)
Barmès Buecher 2002 Pinot Gris Rosenberg de Wettolsheim “Silicis” (Alsace) – Brilliant, showing far more shattered crystalline minerality than the spicy pear fruit that is this variety’s regional signature, with a long finish and only the mildest dollop of appealing sweetness. Highly-structured, and – unlike many pinot gris – likely to develop, rather than simply last and then fade, with bottle age. Just terrific. (9/07)
Barmès Buecher 2004 Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim (Alsace) – The Herrenweg de Turckheim isn’t my favorite site, especially for riesling, because the wines from there are far too often wishy-washy, lacking the nerve and precision that make riesling distinctive. There’s a soft, floral aspect to the wines that, typically, falls flat in the glass, or even under the influence of a stern gaze. Kudos to Barmès Buecher, then, for marrying the expected aromatics to a firmer structure than is typical. It’s not so much crisp or brittle as it is sandpapery, and so, texturally, this is somewhat unusual, but it may be the best possible mitigation of this site’s natural tendencies. Also of note: the wine is markedly dry, so those used to a dollop of sugar (or its more abrasive cousin, ponderous alcohol) may want to keep that in mind. (9/07)
Barmès Buecher 2002 Pinot Blanc Rosenberg de Wettolsheim (Alsace) – Structured and surprisingly intense for pinot blanc, especially as it lacks the telltale thick spice of auxerrois adulteration (whether or not it actually has auxerrois in the blend, as most Alsatian pinot blancs do, I can’t say for sure). Leafy stone fruit and firm acidity form the core of this wine, with only a mildly-softening wrapping of fruit. Nice, and likely ageable. (9/07)
Barmès Buecher 2005 Crémant d’Alsace Brut (Alsace) – Piercing and vibrantly acidic, though the acid dominance renders the wine more brittle than I would like. What fruit there is seems whitewashed and then coated in a fine dust of blackboard chalk. A very particular, almost old school crémant d’Alsace, which isn’t necessarily a compliment; to the extent that crémant can be made to feel like Champagne without tasting like Champagne, I think it benefits from the aspiration. This is more like sekt. Ultimately, of course, there’s an issue of preference here, but I think Alsace is less suited for sekt than it is for a richer, more complex bubbly. (9/07)
Kuentz-Bas 2004 Alsace (Alsace) – Neither lush and spicy nor overly austere, this blend rides the fine line between flavor and nervosity, and rides it well. Melon and dried lime vie with a light minerality and firm acidity for supremacy, but mostly this wine is about its fine structure. Drink it soonish. (8/07)
Kuentz-Bas 2004 Alsace (Alsace) – Simple spiced pear, apple and very mild rock undertones. Exceedingly pleasant, which of course is all this wine tries to be. (7/07)
Sparr 2002 “One” (Alsace) – As usual, a sort of summary of Alsatian organoleptics: spice, pear, minerality and ripe apple, with a bit of crispness and a faint, drinkable sweetness. Nice. (8/07)
30 March 2006 – Andlau, France
Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss – One of the major proponents of biodynamism in Alsace, Kreydenweiss doesn’t get the press or acclaim of some of his fellow practitioners. But he is an evangelist, constantly pushing the soil-revelatory aspects of his agricultural practices, and any visitor to their tasting room will receive at least a short lecture (including rocky props) on the soil types of the Andlau-area vineyards, which are myriad.
We’re received at the door by Marc, but it’s his son Antoine that conducts our tasting. In retrospect, I wonder if there might not be a reason.
(Continued with photos, an in-depth tasting at Kreydenweiss, and a rather remarkable lunch, here.)