Alsatian Riesling: Dry and Delicious

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August 4, 2010

Alsatian Riesling

I attended a tasting earlier this week that included a selection of Alsatian Rieslings from Domaine Weinbach. This French wine region is nestled between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine River, very close to the German border. Riesling is arguably the most famous wine from Alsace, but you'll also find Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and excellent sparkling wines (Cremant d'Alsace). Although the wines of Alsace are some of the first that really got me interested in a world beyond California Chardonnay, they can be frustrating. It's hard to know whether or not they will be dry or have a bit of sweetness. Thankfully some producers, such as Zind-Humbrecht, have started discreetly labeling the level of sweetness in their wines. But I can tell you that if you are looking for great dry Riesling, I would steer you towards Domaine Weinbach. I got to try a selection of different vintages and vineyards and what I came away with was that all of these wines have fantastic richness and concentration without being heavy or tiresome. These whites have great acidity to balance out all that lush fruit. And boy can they age. A Riesling from the 2001 vintage was spectacular; nowhere near the end of its life. With age, the color of the wine became deeper and more golden. I also detected some subtle smoky/flinty notes that reminded me of German Riesling. If you were taking an Alsatian Riesling home for dinner, I think it would be lovely with richer seafood such as salmon, crab, or lobster. If you were in Alsace, you would definitely have loads of pork with your wine; that is the classic pairing of the region. And if you are enjoying the wine on its own, I suggest being outside like I was. Domaine Weinbach Riesling and the outdoors may be the best pairing of them all. 

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