Wine Riot NYC 2012- September 21st and 22nd
So many of my "wine discoveries" these days come from the wine events where I pour and present. This was my first time working the Wine Riot series for "Wines Of Alsace". These events are a madhouse of primarily younger wine lovers- most of them just beginning to explore the multitude of different wines from around the world. I have represented "Wines Of Alsace" several times on the retail level, and their campaign is top-notch. As opposed to the "mid to high-end" wines I present off premise (retail), we showcased 6 entry level wines for this event. All of these wines truly represent the quality and detail of Alsatian wines- with a clean focus on each varietal. I have to say that there was extremely informative literature provided on these wines- something not every booth provided. Here is my rundown on the wines:
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé
First of all, this wine is so clean and focused- a testament to Alsatian quality. It is 100% Pinot Noir, with the grapes hand-picked, and produced using the Méthode Champenoise technique (all like a Non Vintage Rosé true Champagne). The fruit is ripe and concentrated, with nuances of mineral (chalk/limestone) and slightly bitter herbs. The "Dry & Fruity" quick description on their card above, can be misconstrued by many newer comsumers. They react to the ripe fruit and sense this as "sweet", not fully appreciating the balance which comes from an acidic-laden backbone. This wine was made in the dry (Brut) style, and even though there is some residual sugar present (because of the last step in Meth Champ- dosage), it is unlikely that the sugar level is high enough to exhibit even an "off-dry" (known as "Extra-Dry" in Champagne) sensation. And all of this taste and finesse at $17 retail, makes this sparkler an affordable alternative to the NV Champagne price tag.
2010 Domaine Schlumberger "Les Princes Abbés" Pinot Blanc
From a property established in 1810, this Pinot Blanc exhibits all of the attributes you would expect from this Old World production. From the ripe, focused fruit, through the mineral-laden nuances on the nose and palette, this terroir-driven wine showcases the pure attributes of Pinot Blanc- a true testament to quality given this "entry level" bottle. Great balance and clean flavors, all for $15 retail.
2009 Trimbach Riesling
As usual, this dry Riesling was a major surprise for most tasters. It was not the comfortable quaffing variety- this demanded attention. Well-balanced, with a razor-sharp focus on the palette, it gives a concentrated exhibition of the Riesling varietal- without the overly sweet, easygoing versions most people have been accustomed to (I have always enjoyed the reactions from people who have never experienced a true Alsatian Riesling). Now, I can always assure them that an Alsatian Riesling is a more food-friendly, versatile wine than any others they are used to. Also a major testament to this longstanding producer ($17 retail).
2010 Hugel Gewurtztraminer
A varietal that most were unfamiliar with, I believe that since it was a "dry white", they became more apt to try it. Produced by another longstanding family vineyard, this wine was a controversial one. I can personally say it was a true representation of the grape (as was with every winemaker's single varietal contribution here), representing good quality at this entry level. The wine was well-balanced with all of the Gewurtztraminer characteristics- pungent aromatics (some floral notes), with nutty (Lychee), oily/buttery tones, but balanced with a fine acidic backbone structure. More complex than most others, it netted out as a "yes/no" kind of wine with our guests (i.e. they either "got it" or were not hip to the grape's taste). ($23 retail)
2011 Pierre Sparr ONE
This was our only "blend" at the table, but because of its predominant Muscat inclusion, it was a showcase of this varietal. Very "racy and wild" from this Alsatian property, this wine made a statement to most. It's bold personality pulled in most tasters, and its ripe, round, opulent fruit and rich flavors made believers out of most. Some commented on the "ONE" label positively as well. Readily available and at a good price point ($14), this was a definite "hit".
2010 Willm Pinot Gris Reserve
So now we have to bring the masses to try an "off-dry"wine...(slight departure::: at many of these "massive pouring events" we are dealing with a multitude of subjective likes and dislikes and levels of appreciation, so I emphasized the fact that this was not a "dessert wine"(overly sweet), but just a wine where the old vine fruit was picked at a later stage in order to ensure ripeness- with good acidity to balance the wine). I still believe that because these were white wines, and that they tried the previous wines and for the most part enjoyed them, that I could convince them to try this last wine. As you know, I was totally enamored with the pedigree of every previous producer we represented... and now Willm... another house of Old World reputation. The wine was everything it should have been- rich and ripe with a fuller mouth-feel and a total expression of the Pinot Gris grape. Slightly more rounder than the previous wines, but as complex and balanced as all above. ($13 retail).
As usual, whether I represent entry level wines or the Grand Crus, these tastings really open the eyes of most consumers. These tastings represent wines that they may not have gravitated towards in the immediate past, but wines that they will now consider immediately from these tastings or in the near future. Always a pleasure.