Friday, August 15, 2014

Puritan & Co.: Alsatian Wine Advice

The wines of Alsace, mainly white and produced from grapes such as Gewurtztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sylvaner and more. As I've said repeatedly before, Alsatian wines are generally not on the radar of the average consumer but they should be. They can often provide excellent value and taste. They are enjoyable while young but can also age well. They can provide a sense of history, as well as showcase state of the art wine making. At their most basic though, they are delicious.

You can read some background info on Alsatian wines here, and also check out my prior Alsatian wine reviews. From those articles, you will quickly see that I am a fan of Alsatian wines. How about you?

Recently, I attended a media dinner at Puritan & Co., showcasing eight wines from Alsace. This was my first visit to Puritan, and definitely won't be my last. I enjoyed the food and found the wines to be compelling. In addition, there was plenty of fun and interesting conversation, providing some additional insight into Alsace.

Dinner began with a couple shared appetizers, including Clothbound Cheddar Gougeres, which were filled with gooey, melted cheese.

The Scallop Tartare, sitting in lettuce cups, were fresh and clean, with bright citrus flavors. Alsatian white wines and seafood often make an excellent pairing.

Our vinous sampling began with Cremant d'Alsace, sparkling wine to set the mood while also pairing well with our food. The 2011 Albert Mann Cremant d'Alsace Brut ($22), made by a Biodynamic producer, is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. With a beautiful golden color, it had flavors of green apple and lemon with brioche highlights. It was elegant and clean, with a pleasing finish. My preference though was the NV Willm Cremant d'Alsace Blanc de Noirs Brut ($16) which is made of 100% Pinot Noir. This Cremant was creamy and smooth, with bright fruit flavors of apple and citrus. It too was elegant and clean, though lacking the toastiness of the Albert Mann. Your preference will depend on the style of sparkling wine you like best.

"Pinot Blanc and egg dishes go very well together. It also goes well with herbs."

For our first course, I chose the Wild Mushrooms & Farm Egg, which is made with arugula, garlic and smoked brioche. This was an umami-rich dish, the type of dish that makes you want to lick the plate clean, or use bread to sop up all the sauce and egg yolk.

I also have to give special kudos to the Rolls at Puritan, which are topped by a bit of salt and have such a great, buttery texture. They are addictive and it would have been simple to devour a half-dozen or more. It is also the type of roll that is ideal for sopping up your dish, so it was ideal for the mushrooms & egg plate.

The 2012 Willy Gisselbrecht Pinot Blanc ($12) is an excellent value wine, which was slow fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. It was fresh and fruity, with delicious apple and melon flavors, and enough character to elevate it above overly simple wines. An easy drinking wine, this would be great on its own or paired with light dishes, from eggs (like this dish) to seafood. The 2012 Mader Riesling ($17) is a Biodynamic wine made from 100% Riesling. It is dry and lean, with pleasant fruit flavors and a mineral backbone. It is the type of Riesling that I most enjoy, and it too goes well on its own, or with light food dishes.

"Pork is the national vegetable of Alsace."

Though I had a choice of a Pork Chop, I opted instead for the Pan-Seared Striped Bass, with a radish tomatillo and panisse. It was an excellent choice, and I had no regrets. The bass had a perfect sear, adding a bit of crunch to the sweet, flaky white fish below. It is fish cooked this well which would turn almost any person into a seafood lover. The dish is on their regular menu and I heartily recommend it. The panisse, kind of fried chickpea croutons, were also tasty and intriguing.

The 2011 Sipp Mack Pinot Gris ($20) is from another Biodynamic producer, and this wine was aged on the lees for 4 months. It was a compelling with, with crisp acidity, delicious melon and pear flavors and a subtle earthiness. Complex, with a lengthy finish, I was very much impressed with this wine and it is again an excellent value. The 2007 Becker Riesling Grand Cru Froehn ($25) is from an organic winery which is not certified Biodynamic yet. It has prominent lemon and lime flavors, accented by a mild petrol taste and a hint of sweetness.

After our entree, we enjoyed a cheese course, including Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Sevre Et Belle Bucherondin and Herve Mona Pyrenees Brebis.

"The more it stinks, the better it goes with Gewurztraminer."

This quote refers to cheese, and I haven't done any independent research yet to verify whether it is true or not, but it sounds like a fascinating experiment. We enjoyed a 2011 Hugel et Fils Gewurztraminer ($24) with our cheese course, and it seemed to be a very typical Gewurtz, with intriguing spice and herbal aromatics and flavors. It paired well with the cheese. We also savored the
2001 Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Friedrich Emile Vendanges Tardives ($75),  a wine that hasn't been produced again since this vintage. Mildly sweet, with plenty of acidity to balance it, there were pleasant flavors of green apple, citrus and honey.

Consumers, pay attention! Alsatian wines are some of the best wines you probably know little about so seek them out at your local wine stores and restaurants. They won't stress your wallet so give them a chance.

1 comment:

Crystallyn said...

We were there tonight and the food was amazing, as it has been on every other night we've veen there. Peter, the newish sommelier, shared some seriously wonderful wines with us. Not from Alsace, but delicious all the same. Puritan & Co. ranks high on our list of good good places to be.