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Time for a Trim

Trimbach 2008 Riesling (Alsace) – A powerfully appealing vintage that has not yet closed down (if it ever will; these négociant bottlings sometimes do, and some of those even come out the other end tasting better…2001 was an example, though it’s well past its prime by now). Vibrant ironfruit, perfect structure. If this all sounds like overenthusiasm, note that what it lacks vs. better rieslings is complexity; this is a direct shot right at the heart of varietal rieslinghood in Alsace, but there’s no ricochet. (8/12)


Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre” (Alsace) – Crystalline and restrained. While it’s this latter quality that always marks this wine’s youth, it’s the former that emerges with age, which is not the case for the great majority of even Alsace’s best gewürztraminers, even the ones that age beautifully. As this one has…and it’s worth noting that it’s nowhere near done, either. Bright, light-infused peach and pear, still crisp (another sorely lacking quality of gewurztraminer from Alsace, and especially in these climate-changing times), and just an absolute joy to drink. No, it doesn’t have the lurid decadence of, say, a Weinbach at peak form. The Trimbach style, as damaged as it has been by the inevitabilities of ever-hotter vineyards, still reigns over this wine. While I’d hesitate to say it’s analytically dry, it performs as nearly so, and unlike richer gewurztraminer can still mingle, politely, with dishes that aren’t obvious gewürztraminer partners. (7/12)


Trimbach 1998 Riesling “Cuvée Frédérique Émile” (Alsace) – Not decanted. There’s some friendly disagreement about this wine; I think it’s still closed, another taster – also quite familiar with the wine – thinks it’s tiring. (It’s not, for the concerned, suffering from premature oxidation.) It’s true that it’s not showing much other than a milky mineralistic texture and a restrained yet tense structure, but the duration of its persistence without weakening is what convinces me that it’s intact and progressing properly. (5/12)

Rock, sir?

Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre” (Alsace) – From a recently-purchased lot that is, alas, a little bit heat-traumatized. There’s still plenty to like in its arid porcine minerality and light apricot glaze, but there’s also a slightly sticky and stale note that gives away the damage. (1/12)

Acute problem

Trimbach 2002 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – The 2000, 2001, and 2002 vintages at Trimbach are quite the epic trilogy, and like 1988-1990 before them each has its own character. It’s still very early days for the 2002 (there are few houses about which one can say that for a riesling at age nine), and the differences between it and the 2001 are clearer than they were just a few years ago. Headier than its slightly older brother, driven as much by body as by pointed intensity, yet no less forceful, the 2002 is going to drink a lot better, sooner, than the 2001 ever has. But I think it will reward just as much aging, ending up as a somewhat rounder form of the molten iron that is all great CFEs’ destiny. (1/12)

Seigneurs moment

Trimbach 2001 Gewurztraminer “Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre” (Alsace) – A very recent purchase, allegedly due to the winery’s recently-abandoned importer dumping their stocks on large-volume buyers (in this case, the dreaded Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board), and from one of apparently 19 or so cases stacked in a suburban outpost of Pennsylvania’s ridiculous liquor monopoly and priced at far less than 50% of what I’d consider current retail. Now, I’m quite a fan of these sorts of inventory clearance sales, but this particular release has me either doubting the story or concerned on a wider scale, because there are signs of heat damage here. Not major, and not yet all that apparent in the wine (which is different from invisible), but there’s seepage enough to have escaped about a quarter of the corks and cause the capsules to become adhesive little nightmares of glutinous packaging. My expanded universe of worry results from a concern that the wine was delivered in this condition, which means that the damage occurred at the importer level, which would be – let me emphasize my personal concern on this point as person with more Trimbach in his cellar than any other wine – horrifying to contemplate. The other possibility, of course, is that the wine was fine at delivery and was very quickly baked by the fine folks at the PLCB, who is not legendary for their nurturing storage conditions. (Is that vague enough to keep the lawyers at bay?)

So what’s left? The sort of high-minded, mineral, wet gewurztraminer this cuvée is known for, resting more on its structure than almost any other Alsatian gewurztraminer of note. But a bit more dilute than I’d expect at this stage (I do expect closure from these wines, and this would be the time for it, but I think there’s more than a closed period at work here), and the bacony stage that this wine usually finds in its maturity has a little more smoke than usual, with just the faintest touch of caramelization. Based on which, of course, I see the heat damage that I expect from the condition of the bottles, though I wonder if I’d note it had I not seen the physical evidence. Based on this performance, I’m probably going to plow through most of these over the fairly term, leaving the smaller quantity of at-release purchases for a later date. (10/11)


Trimbach 1999 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – A little oxidized, a lot unpleasant. Maybe low-level taint, though it was below my threshold if so. The previous bottle was drinking extremely well, so I have to presume cork failure in one or more ways on this one. (10/11)

Trimbach 1999 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – Better, but still not all that good. The brushed, anti-gloss metallicism is on display, as it was not in the previous wine, and there’s a little texture. But nowhere near what there should be, and the finish is attenuated. I think the rest of my bottles are going to be opened rather quickly. (10/11)

See? F*** Émile!

Trimbach 1999 Riesling “Cuvée Frédéric Émile” (Alsace) – Riesling popsicle, or perhaps sno-cone (Philadelphia water ice?), with a dry syrup of Makrut lime leaves and aromatic straw. Very long, with all the trappings of a majesty it just doesn’t achieve. There’s a lack of sufficient acidity, for one thing, and the narrative complexity typical of the wine ends somewhere in the middle of the second chapter. In some ways, this wine is ready to drink and probably won’t reward more cellaring. In others, it’s perpetually unready; a failed dauphin. (8/11)

Spicy ’49er

Trimbach 2006 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Without knowing actual data, this wine has often struck me as one of the more syrupy Trimbach négociant gewurztraminers, full of density (probably both sugar and alcohol) without the necessary accompanying structure. I know acidity is a lot to expect from a gewurztraminer, but Trimbach can usually provide some. Here, they didn’t, and worse the counterpoint flavor intensities are not what I prefer either. It’s just kind of a fluffy wine, and that is a surprise, chez Trimbach. (9/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Just a touch past its peak, getting a little sticky rather than porcine (these grapes were never high enough quality to achieve the latter), but still delivering a lot of correct gewurztraminerishness in as dry a package as can be found outside frigid vintages anymore. (7/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Solid yet fraying. Peach, apricot, cashew, adhesion, but the acidity that binds it all together is separating from the whole. (7/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – A solid performance, just a bit more porcine than most recent bottles (which have leaned on their peach and nut characters), and that’s to the good. (8/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Hinting at bacon (more of a glazed bacon than something purely porcine or smoky), but still relying principally and very nearly solely on a white apricot sort of fruit (or perhaps white peach…really, it doesn’t matter) for what depth it retains. (9/11)

Trimbach 2004 Gewurztraminer (Alsace) – Solid in form, liquid in function, showing stone fruit with a touch of cashew oil, and a little bit of dilution on the finish. This story is coming to an end…not immediately, but not too many more years hence, either. (9/11)

Ries jones

Trimbach 2001 Riesling “Réserve” (Alsace) – The “Reserve” riesling didn’t used to be available in the States, and then one year it was. One doesn’t need to investigate with a microscope the sales prospects of Alsatian wines to make a guess or two why that might be. Nonetheless, I’m pleased to see it, because the wine is measurably better than the négociant yellow label riesling. This isn’t so much apparent in the initial encounter, which mimics the regular 2001’s bright mineral polish and snappy, balanced structure, but in a finish of increasing textural interest that abandons liquidity in favor of a flowing river of crystalline particulate buzz. Despite my enthusiasm, this wine is probably at the end of its useful life. But it was a fine life, well-lived. (7/11)

Trimbach 2001 Riesling “Réserve” (Alsace) – The difference between this and the yellow négociant bottling (other than the fact that the 2001 normale is long-embalmed by now) is the wash of Trimbach-y minerality (Ribeauvillé writ rocky) and the nervosity that this has and the other only rarely achieves, and even then only in youth. There’s not a reason in the world to hold this other than morbid curiosity, as its full maturity (and then some) is already on display. (8/11)

Trimbach 2008 Riesling (Alsace) – Excitingly ripe, maybe with just the faintest touch more flesh and fat than the Trimbach “style” would suggest, but the firm grip of acidity rules all despite the extra spring in the fruit’s leap and cavort. One of the best yellow-label Trimbachs of the decade, I think (and no surprise; the more I taste, the more I think the vintage deserves its solid reputation). (6/11)

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – I admit I’m getting tired of drinking this wine, which I bought in a quantity that I’m finding hard to understand aside from the possibility that I bought it for someone else and never delivered it. But it’s a reliable, solid, quality performer, full of classic iron and apple steeliness, riper than the median, shot through with vivid acidity and a salty finish. (6/11)

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – Second verse, same as the first. (6/11)

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – Struggling a bit, which matches my belief (borne out by several cases of experience) that this wine is taking a good, hard look at its decline. Good bottles are at peak, bad ones are already beginning their descent. There’s still a fair wallop of steely minerality, but it’s softened around the edges and buffered at the core, and any lingering fruit is definitely experiencing red-shift. Drink up. (7/11)

Trimbach 2004 Riesling (Alsace) – Really mineral-dusty, which is of course very welcome in aging riesling, with only beginning to shed its structure. Possibly the best performance for this bottle yet, though I’d still not want to hold it much longer; I don’t think improvement is in its future. (8/11)