Tag Archives: Wine
As David Ling of Hugel explained, you have to understand that Alsatians (the people) are 100% French with a 150% ‘germanic’ mentality and a 200% dedication to Alsace. It’s quite a small region to visit, caught between the Vosges mountains to the West and the Rhine (and Black Forest) looming to the East. The centre is the picture-postcard lovely town of Colmar, with the main winery based villages dotted along the slopes to its west side. ‘Disneyfied’ may say the cruel, but this is an area that thrives on (mainly German and French) tourism, and the brightly painted, scrupulously clean environment packs in the coach parties. A leafy green backdrop of vines provides the perfect foil before the belt of woodland that disappears into the hills.
Supported by a group of intrepid doctors, the Charles Hastings Wine Club, I visited four producers in three days – a comfortable, if quite predictable exposure to the best that Alsace has to offer. We started with the Cooperative at Pfaffenheim, moved on to Hugel at Riquewihr, then Schlumberger at Guebwiller and finally Domaine Bruno Sorg at Eguisheim. Four quite different visits, four quite different takes on the same varieties; effectively we were comparing the merits of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer in the hands of different winemakers – and from different soils and slopes.
There are some generalisations to be made however...
Worthy, never showy, a well-textured white that tends to fill the mouth without bowling you over with individuality of flavour. I like the clean lines of Pinot Blanc Classic from Hugel which is a well-priced staple.
Originally Tokai Pinot Gris (the Tokai dropped to avoid confusion with Hungarian Tokaji), this is much more characterful with more aroma, depth of flavour and a ripe, spicy edge to it. A fuller style than many French whites from other regions, it reminds you why Pinot Grigio is so popular. Sorg’s 2011 is juicy and drinkable, Les Princes Abbés 2011 from Schlumberger felt very complete and balanced, only topped by their grand cru wines.
Classy, fuller and drier than the German counterparts to the East, we felt the best are certainly those from the ‘grand cru’ vineyards – pricier but invariably a big step up in quality. Although we didn’t visit, Ehrhart’s Grand cru Kaefferkopf is a very pure style, while the stars that we tasted include two grand crus from Sorg, Floriment and Pfersigberg which are sited above Eguisheim.
So aromatically enticing, provided the rose-petal doesn’t overpower you first, it was encouraging to taste numerous examples which were well-balanced with enough acidity to keep them fresh. Impressively on-form I felt, and much more enjoyable than I remembered. Pfaffenheim’s Gewurztraminer 2012 is quite fat and round, a good start before taking on world-beaters from Hugel and Schlumberger, who’s Grand cru Kessler is frankly outstanding
Vendange Tardive and Selection des Grains Nobles are simply delicious; concentrated and with intense sweetness but with fresh acidity and a density that again you don’t always see in Germany. They are a price however, and prohibitive for many if you are in a restaurant. We baulked a little at paying 200 euros a bottle…
Overall impressions? There is more intensity of flavour, more depth and ‘fullness’ in the wines of Alsace than you’ll find in comparably priced wines in other regions. But it’s a small region producing hand-crafted wines in mostly small lots (and we visited two major players in Hugel and Schlumberger) so the price is relatively high. The Germanic twist is interesting, and all-pervading. I found an ‘oompah band’ playing in Eguisheim on Sunday morning, and despite rucks of tourists clogging the place up, the locals are terribly polite and helpful. There is an absence of untidiness; no half-finished buildings for example. The food varies from solid, unremarkable germanically named tourist fodder to some outrageously good, French based cuisine. Choucroute /Saurkraut and five types of pig can render you immoveable, yet a simple Flammekueche, a sort of thin crust pizza, is perfect lunchtime fare with a glass of wine. http://www.getalsaced.com/alsatian-specialties.html will explain more. Alsace is a lovely visit, perfect for a long weekend – but make it on the fringe of the tourist season!
Take a look at my video clip of our bike tour of Alsace...
This post was posted in Tanners News, Tanners Trips and was tagged with Alsace, Charles Hastings Wine Club, Domaine Bruno Sorg, Ehrhart, Gewürztraminer, Hugel, Pfaffenheim, Pinot Blanc, pinot gris, Riesling, Schlumberger, Wine, Wine Tourism
Our flagship branch in Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, is almost as famous for the window display as it is for our wine, so the pressure to come up with an eye-catching theme every time can be quite daunting.
With an Italian wine promotion coming up, Helen Chaudron, who designs our window displays, wanted to create something simple but typically Italian and came up with an idea of including iconic Italian ‘Lambretta’ or ’Vespa’ scooters, little imagining that it might be actually possible to borrow some for six weeks!
Hoping Radio Shropshire DJ, Jim Hawkins, might be able to put a plea out on his show, Jim came up with a better idea - The Severnside Lions Scooter Club which is based in Shrewsbury. With the deadline for the start of the Italian wine promotion fast approaching Helen e.mailed the Scooter Club and lo and behold, Jerry Kurek e.mailed straight back with an offer of help!
Two beautiful scooters duly arrived the very next day and have created a lot of comments from passers-by – everyone wants to own one! In recognition of their help, we have given the Club a case of Tanners Claret to help with its 2014 fundraising activities.
Anyone with an interest in Italian scooters should definitely contact the club through their website, www.severnsidelionsscooterclub.com as it has a fantastic membership and a wonderful collection of scooters, they are a great bunch. Jerry Kurek, from the scooter club told us he thinks the window is ‘ace’ and that they have had quite a lot of people get in touch to find out more about them.
Rollo Gabb, owner of Journey’s End Vineyards commissioned a full-scale version of the fabled medieval siege weapon – the trebuchet – to be built to coincide with the launch of the winery’s eponymous 2008 Syrah, which is now available at Tanners for £12.50.
Last week crowds gathered to watch the trebuchet – a 60ft, 12 tonne machine nicknamed Dionysus by Journey’s End fans on Twitter - hurl an old church organ, a car and a petrol bomb several hundred yards across a Shropshire field, raising hundreds towards a new organ at Acton Round Church, near Bridgnorth, as well as causes local to the winery near Stellenbosch.
Rollo told us that combining old knowledge and methods with modern technology is something that fascinates him, and it seemed to suit his 2008 Syrah - a powerful and exciting wine with great structure - down to the ground.
Rollo sees the trebuchet as a sustainable, long-term way of raising funds as well as being great fun. It's now being painstakingly taken apart and shipped to the vineyard near Stellenbosch before then being rebuilt on site where it will remain.
Rollo is planning to raise funds, by inviting people to donate to watch the trebuchet flinging items such as empty wine barrels, for various local community projects in South Africa. Projects include regular support for 40 pensioners; numeracy and literacy skills for school children at weekends, half terms and holiday; and soup kitchens six days a week during the winter months.
You can watch a video of the epic launch on YouTube