When wine aficionados contemplate the great wine regions of France, they’re usually reflecting upon Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne … perhaps the Rhone Valley and Loire. But Alsace tends to get lost in the wine shuffle. Maybe that’s because Alsatian wines seem so German – unsurprising since the Alsace region, which borders Germany, has at times belonged to Germany.
But Alsace, to me, is one of the most inviting and charming wine regions in the world. Houses – some centuries old – are inevitably dressed up with flower boxes, with the grandiose Vosges Mountains looming in the background. And then there’s the cuisine of Alsace: choucroute garni, foie gras, flammekueche, and baeckeoffe, for example, which deliciously illustrate the synergy behind a melding of German and French cooking styles. Alsatian wine, not surprisingly, pairs flawlessly with the local food flavors.
The main producers of wines in Alsace are Hugel et Fils, Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Kuentz-Bas, Trimbach, Domaine Marcel Deiss, Domaine Weinbach, Helfrich, Willm, and Domaines Schlumberger. Here are a handful of my favorite, less expensive ones.
For a prototypical expression of Pinot Blanc, I turn to Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés ($15.99), a lively wine that’s the perfect accompaniment to flammekueche (onion tart).
The first Alsatian wine I ever tasted was Trimbach Pinot Blanc ($15.99), and it’s still a favorite to serve as an aperitif or to sip with shellfish.
Willm Riesling Réserve ($14.99) brims with green apple, white peach, and mandarin orange flavors, balanced with snappy acidity. This Riesling would partner well with a range of flavors, from sauerkraut to sushi.
Kuentz-Bas, which sits are one of Alsace’s highest points and which has been producing wine for 220 years, makes an interesting blended wine called Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc ($15.99), composed of Sylvaner, Auxerrois and Muscat. It’s bone dry with lively, bright citrus flavors – a unique opportunity to try an Alsatian blended wine.
I also really love Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés ($20.99), a well-balanced Pinot Gris with apricot, white peach, and honey notes, combined with a hint of smoke. It’s an ideal pairing for choucroute garni.
So, this holiday season treat yourself to a trip to Alsace!