The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 10 of 120

Alsacien Antoine Kreydenweiss directs his family's Andlau village estate. Half of his 13 hectares (32 acres) of vineyard is planted to Riesling. Standing atop his Moenchberg Grand Cru site we spied the village below and above his other two grand crus of the village, Wiebelsberg and Kastelberg, composed of slate and granite though only the slate parcels are designated grand cru. Andlau is only one of three Alsace villages to have slate subsoils. Over lunch we tasted his Rieslings from Clos Rebberg, to which no sulfites are added, and Kastelberg Grand Cru. Both went through malo - lactic, both were very good. (Imported by AP Wine Imports.) "Musicians in the U.S. are better trained than those in France; it's the same as the sommeliers," the well-traveled André Ostertag opined. "Americans are more serious; the French way is more poetic, more artistic." As an Alsacien born into Teutonic influence, he sees himself as more efficient than a typical French person. In whichever site we visited his vines were in better condition than those neighboring. His signa - ture, entry-level Fronholz, while balanced and attractive was lighter than I expected with his Heisenberg and Muenchberg medium-bodied and spicy—bolder expressions of the grape and the man. (Imported by Kermit Lynch.) Anne Trimbach's family's 101 acres of vineyards are supplemented by uncle Hubert's efforts in purchasing fruit from another 240 for their over one million bottles annual production, 48% of which is Riesling. When asked about the recently-enacted village assignation system, her winemaking father Pierre, for many years president of the region's nego - ciants' association, said "If it helps Alsace improve quality by reducing cropload and sugar levels at harvest, it'll be good for better treatment of vineyards." Trimbach's Riesling Réserve had a surprisingly long finish for what was a rather tight palate; the Frédéric Émile, culled from vineyards situated immediately behind the winery, showed great aging poten - tial through what was still a heady wine; the Clos Ste. Hune clearly showing its intensely calcareous origins via its great precision and length. (Imported by Palm Bay International.) "It's difficult for Alsace to be working on a system that is Burgundian in nature," Philippe Blanck (pictured above, with yours truly having a bad hair day) told me over a glass of his long-finishing, unoaked Paul Blanck & Fils Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes. "The communal aspect of this is very restrictive; for example, the vineyard delimitation of Bergheim is too restric - tive to properly develop the village appellation. It was politically incorrect to discuss these issues a few years ago, but no longer, due to Olivier Humbrecht now being in charge of the develop- ment of a pyramid-style cru system akin to that of Meursault's; 'cru' is a concept that works—not 'villages'." Better known for his Schlossberg and Furstentum Grand Cru Rieslings, Blanck also makes one of Alsace's best Pinot Noirs in his 'F'. (Imported by Michael Skurnik, Country Vintner, Grape Expectations.) Fourteenth-generation winegrower Jean-Baptiste Adam has been farming biodynamically since 1997, while purchasing grapes from others for his more basic wines not indicated as biodynamic. "Organic grapes cost me 30% more, so I'm compelled to sell the wines at a higher price," he said. Adam doesn't add yeasts but does work with sulfur. "I'm not a fan of what passes for 'natural' wines." Over lunch at his vil - lage's Aux Armes de France we started with his Pinot Gris Letzenberg (a highly-regarded lieu-dit upon which he also has Riesling) to accompany our foie gras starter,followed by his Riesling Vieilles Vignes Kaefferkopf to accompany our sandre with tomato coulis. "When I was the president of the growers' syndicate it took four years to convince others that Kaefferkopf deserved a grand cru assignation for Riesling and Gewurztraminer—the only blend allowed in Alsace Grand Cru." (Imported by The Sorting Table, Wine Manager.) Alsace's largest privately-owned estate proprietor, Séverine Schlumberger, shared that "the challenge is on a daily basis we're gardening fruits organically; on such a large area [312 acres] it's difficult." She sells her lesser grapes and, as a purely estate-driven winery, purchases none. The Schlumberger estate works its steep-soiled, southern vineyards, many ter - raced, with horses for the entirety of the vineyards' existence. "We wait at least 15 years to use our new vines for any grand cru wines," with the younger juice declassified. Yielding an average 20hl/ha, examples of her Kitterlé Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling from vintages dating 1997–2008 were tantamount to leaping from cloud to cloud, being lifted by complexity, concentration, and subtlety. "If there isn't a som - melier at a restaurant in the U.S. to recommend them, then Alsace wines won't sell," lamented Schlumberger. No prob- lem in recommending these! (Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines.). Cheers, David Furer { postcard } 10 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014

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