The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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44 / the tasting panel / february 2014 BOURBON D ecidedly balmy weather greeted the cool-climate winegrowers who gathered in Mendocino's Anderson Valley in early February for the nation's only conference devoted to the "noble" Alsatian grape varieties. Part technical symposium and part gustatory celebration, the International Alsace Varietals Festival now in its ninth year brings together producers of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Muscat to exchange best practices for cool-climate winegrowing and for a glimpse into the future of Alsatian-varietal wines. Blind Wine couldn't join the industry gatekeepers and consumers who converged on the town of Boonville this year to talk shop and taste, so we invited Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis to join us in assessing a representative sample of the wines that were poured at the event. Regardless of grape variety, each and every wine we tasted was grown in cool or what amounts to a downright cold climate as deined by the Winkler Amerine Scale as Region I and having 2,500 or fewer degree days during the growing season. In New Zealand, North Canterbury has 900 degree days and Nelson just over 1100 while Alsace is warming and has now reached 1900. In Anderson Valley, the town of Philo which marks the midway point in the narrow, diagonal AVA also has about 1900 degree days though sites in Boonville at the southeast- ern end of the valley are usually warmer and in Region II (2501–3000). The wines came to us courtesy of Kristy Charles and the Anderson Valley Winegrowers' Association and were tasted blind in like groups by vintage, from driest to sweetest. Special thanks to Catherine Fallis, MS for tasting and helping select the top picks for each variety. 1. Quince and ripe stone fruit aromas, leshy, riper mid-palate with leesy, mineral inish. A classic Pinot Blanc. $14. 2. Vivid aromas of peach, tropical fruits and citrus with medium-sweet lavors of dried fruit and bright orange zest in this rich Pinot Blanc. $13. 3. White lowers, apple skin and petrol aromas are mirrored in the tart, mineral lavors of this precise, dry New World Riesling. $23. 4. Lean, lime, honeysuckle and petrol aromas and delicate mineral lavors marked by high acid point to a coolest region-Riesling. $19. 5. Riesling with pronounced mineral and petrol aromas, tropical fruits and green apple with notes of honey pointing to some Botrytis, crisp acidity. $16. 6. Peachy and fuller-bodied Pinot Gris, savory and viscous with complex touch of bitterness on the inish. $20. 7. Honeyed, botrytized-aromas with rich, dried pineapple lavors and moderate acidity in this opulent Pinot Gris. $24. 8. White stone fruits, petrol, minerality and a pretty gingery, spicy note mark the inish of this varietally-correct Pinot Gris. $11. 9. Lean peach and stone fruit aromas with savory, mineral-driven lavors. Described as a "geeky" style Gewurztraminer that appeals to less-is-more palates. $18. 10. Classic aromas of rose and stone fruit with a pristine, off-dry pal- ate and a touch less acidity pointing to a New World origin for this Gewurztraminer. $16. ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ Some Like It Cool THE INTERNATIONAL ALSACE VARIETALS FESTIVAL The Reveal 1. Pierre Sparr 2012 Pinot Blanc, Alsace; 2. Girasole 2012 Pinot Blanc, Mendocino; 3. Trefethen 2012 Dry Riesling, Napa; 4. Mt. Beautiful 2012 Riesling, North Canterbury, New Zealand; 5. Esterlina 2011 Dry Riesling, Cole Ranch, Mendocino; 6. Woollaston 2011 Pinot Gris, Nelson, New Zealand; 7. Balo 2012 Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley; 8. Chateau Grand Traverse 2012 Pinot Grigio, Michigan; 9. Thomas Fogarty 2012 Gewurztraminer, Monterey ; 10. Pierre Sparr 2012 Gewurztraminer, Alsace.

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