Saturday 21 October 2017

Wine: Perfect blend of cultures

Liam Campbell

Alsace is one of France's prettiest wine regions, scattered with medieval villages swathed by the foliage of the surrounding vineyards.

Essentially white wine country, the sun-trap sheltered vineyards nestle on the steep eastern slopes of the rain barrier Vosges mountain range where grapes ripen effortlessly, giving wines with full body, higher alcohol and a spicy fruity flavour.

The setting for Franco-German wars over the centuries, Alsace not surprisingly has been heavily influenced by both cultures.

The wines often have Germanic family names, but their French connection means most are in a dry, food-friendly style. All Alsace white wines have a purity of fruit with never an oaky influence.

The medley of at least eight different white grape varieties means a great diversity of styles, tastes and aromas. Alsace is unique in French ACs by labelling the individual grape variety since inception in 1962. A small percentage of wine is a blend of different varietals and labelled either as Gentil or Edelzwicker.

1) Zind (Chardonnay) 2010 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace 13pc

A complex wine with a rich, warm hay and mineral mature bouquet. Flavoured with citrus peel and ripe golden fruits in a waxy texture. Decant to accelerate expression. Excellent as a Christmas turkey companion or with any rich and herbed white meat.

€25.45 at jnwine.com

2) Gentil 2011 Hugel, Alsace 12.5pc

Scented with lemon jelly and deliciously fruity with lemon drops enlivened with freshly squeezed lemons. Refreshing as an aperitif or with hard cheese.

€14.99 at O'Brien's and Next Door chains nationwide; O'Driscoll's, Cork; Wine Centre, Kilkenny; and Morton's, Galway. In Dublin at Donnybrook Fairs; Vintry, Rathgar; Deveney's, Dundrum and Rathmines; Redmond's, Ranelagh; Fallon & Byrne; Martin's, Fairview; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Shiel's, Malahide and Sweeney's, Glasnevin

3) Pinot Blanc 2010 Trimbach, Alsace 12.5pc

Ripe red apple fruit character, well-rounded and fresh. Elegant and very food-versatile. Ideal choice in a restaurant for a mix of mains or with nut and lentil dishes.

€16.99 at Green Acres, Wexford. In Dublin: Vintry, Rathgar and Deveney's, Dundrum and Rathmines

4) Alsace 2011 Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 13pc

From an unspecified mix of varieties grown bio-dynamically. Ripe melon and mint herbal scent. Complex fruit flavours of red, yellow and green apples underpinned by a peach and citrus finish. Match with pork in a mustard cream sauce.

€18 at frenchwines.ie

5) Andlau Riesling 2011 Marc Kreydenweiss, Alsace 13pc

Mineral and zesty lime aromas. An oily texture coats the tastebuds with a citrus fest of crisp flavours. Pithy finish and a mineral note. Delicious with flat white fish pan-fried in butter with capers.

€19.49 from O'Brien's chain of 32 off licences nationwide

6) Gewurztraminer 2010 Trimbach, Alsace 14pc

Perfumed lychee, ginger and rosewater fragrance. A full-bodied wine, ripe and opulent. Tasty red jelly and rosewater spiced with ginger. Alcohol-driven and ginger spice echoes on the long finish. Match with a Chinese prawn dish spiked with star anise, ginger and scallions.

€21 at Superquinn and O'Brien's chain nationwide and Vintry, Rathgar, Dublin 6

Email: liamwine@gmail.com

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