Monday, February 27, 2017

Boston Wine Expo: Wines of Alsace & Luxembourg

Despite the number of French wines at the Boston Wine Expo, there were only two wines from the Alsace region, located in northeastern France. I've previously enjoyed many wines from Alsace, from delicious & dry Riesling to compelling Crémant d'Alsace. "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."

There should be more Alsatian wines at the Expo, especially as there is a significant growth of imports. For example, Alsatian wine exports to the U.S. have increased by about 24% since 2011. In addition, the U.S. is the 3rd largest import market by value. Alsatian wines have plenty of room for growth, but it is obvious that Americans want more Alsatian wines.

Fine Terroir Selections imports wine from France and other Mediterranean countries, representing a single Alsatian producer, the Ruhlmann WineryThe ancestors of the Ruhlmann family were Hungarian knights who settled in the central Alsace back in 1688. The estate includes approximately 75 acres, with two Grands Crus (Frankstein and Muenchberg) and two Lieu-dit sites.  The winery produces five different lines of wines, from Cépage to Cave Précieuse, using grapes such as Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Noir.

The 2015 Ruhlman Riesling Cuvee Jean-Charles ($12.99) is more of a traditional dry Riesling with bright lemon, pear and citrus flavors, crisp acidity and some mineral notes. At this price, it is an excellent value wine, offering more complexity than many other Rieslings at this price. I think this would be an excellent seafood wine, with everything from oysters to sushi.

About 90% of the Alsatian wine production is white, so their Pinot Noirs are more difficult to find. I've tasted a number of Crémant d'Alsace Rosés, made from Pinot Noir, but their still Pinot Noirs have been elusive. The 2015 Ruhlman Pinot Noir Cuvee Mosaique ($14.99) was absolutely delicious, an easy drinking Pinot with a nice melange of flavors. It is very light red in color as well light-bodied on your palate. It offers bright red fruit flavors, cherry and raspberry, a hint of an underlying earthy element, and a decently long finish. At this price point, this is one of the best value Pinots you'll find and highly recommended. I'd buy this by the case to enjoy on its own or with dishes from burgers to pasta. It also means I need to seek out more Alsatian Pinot Noirs.

Wine importer Ansay International represents Domaines Vinsmoselle, a wine cooperative in  Luxembourg that was founded in 1921. The cooperative is located on the banks of the Moselle, encompassing about 800 hectares of vineyards surrounding Chateau de Stadtbredimus, the former home of Edmond de ls Frontaine, the national poet of Luxembourg. The cooperative, with almost 300 winemakers, also includes the traditional wineries of Greiveldange, Grevenmacher, Remerschen, Stadtbredimus, Wellenstein & POLL-Fabaire Cremant Development Center in Wormeldange. Some of their wines were first imported into the U.S. last spring.

Luxembourg is a small country, surrounded by France, Belgium and Germany, and when I tasted several of their wines it brought to mind the wines of Alsace. Similar grapes, similar styles.

The NV Domaines Vinsmoselle Pinot Luxembourg is a blend of Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. It is intended to be an entry level wine, and it is fresh, crisp, and fruity, with delicious pear and melon notes and hints of herbal notes. And at only 11.5% ABV, you'll be able to drink plenty of this wine. It would be tasty on its own or paired with food, from seafood to light chicken dishes.

The 2014 Bech-Kleinmacher Naumberg Auxerrois Grand Premier Cru, with a 12.5% ABV, is a more complex and intriguing wine, with citrus and melon notes, but also a nice mix of spices and herbs, elevating its balanced taste. It is elegant, with a lengthy finish, and will delight and fascinate wine lovers.

The 2014 Wormeldange Wousselt Riesling Grand Premier Cru, with a 12% ABC, will remind you of an Alsatian Riesling. It is dry and aromatic, with plenty of lemon, lime and mineral notes of the palate. There is also a mildly spicy undertone, lots of complexity, and a lengthy, satisfying finish.

The NV Poll-Fabaire Crémant de Luxembourg Brut, with a 12% ABV, is a blend of Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling, presenting as fresh, clean and dry, with pleasant fruit flavors, a full-body, and a nice minerality. Tasty and creamy bubbly which should please.

Bring on more Luxembourg wines if they are as delicious as these examples.

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