Alsace: A Lament or A Lament for Alsace
Alsace? They make wine in Alsace? Who knew?
Among all of the most historic and classic wine-producing regions, it is hard to pick another that is so desperately out of fashion as Alsace (Sherry maybe? But no, the hipsters are there now, too.)
How did this happen? For centuries, Alsace has been a gastronomic mecca, with the highest concentration of Michelin stars anywhere outside Paris and a fine tradition of food-friendly wines, made in a bewildering array of styles from a laundry list of varieties.
Now, it is often an embarrassing omission from the top of a wine list, whose Rieslings might easily start in Austria, or god forbid, Australia!
How did this happen?
Climate Change? Or Simply, Blown By the Winds of Fashion?
There was a time, before Robert Parker started his tango with Olivier Humbrecht, before the days of 15% Gewurz, 99 point scores, or wines that could be spread on toast like marmalade, when a glass of Alsatian wine was a delicate delight, an engagement that demanded a second glass, or all too often, a second bottle.
The style was determined by variety. Of the nine or more grown, four were considered 'noble,' among them, Muscat, almost always bone-dry but now almost extinct. Terroir and producer made up the other dimensions of quality in a rewarding vinous landscape that is now muddied and muddled by intoxicating alcoholic concoctions, lacking focus and acidity that knock you over with sticky mess of over-ripe fruit.
It is hard to pick the bones from the inevitable and congratulating effects of Warming, allied to the herd-following points-chasers
(Robert Parker should never, ever have been trusted with a glass of white wine) but there are still some standard bearers that offer wines that quicken the pulse and offer a reminder of the byegone era and prove that Alsace is still relevant, classic and noble.
The house of Trimbach, is indeed noble. Their famous labels, Clos Sainte Hune and Cuvee Frederic Emile remain steadfast among the world's greatest expressions of the Riesling grape.