Posts Tagged TRIMBACH

Alsace Riesling

IMG_5385First published in the Irish Times Saturday August 13th, 2016

A recent trip to Alsace reignited my love for the wines of this region. And for the food too, although I suspect after a few weeks spent consuming all of that hearty fare, I might require a gastric bypass.

At one time, Alsace was unique among appellation contrôlée wines of France as the only one permitted to display the grape variety on the label. This was a nod towards its Germanic traditions. The grapes, too, sometimes have a German parentage. This is the only part of France permitted to grow Riesling. In addition, you will find Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer, both popular over the border, alongside Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois.I enjoy a glass of summery Sylvaner, and tasted one on my trip, courtesy of our host, Lidl, which will offer it at a very competitive price (around €8-€9) in their forthcoming French Wine Sale, starting on September 12th. Alsace produces a variety of white wines from these six grapes and some improving reds, and the occasional rosé, from Pinot Noir. Crémant, the sparkling wine of Alsace, is big business these days. Made by the same process as Champagne, they can be very good.

However, Riesling is the king of Alsace. The best wines have an amazing combination of freshness and power, a steely austerity combined with a richness of fruit. They can be drunk young, or aged for a decade or more. They partner brilliantly with food, and not just fish. In this part of the world, all of those pork and chicken dishes are routinely served with Riesling. Alsace Riesling tends to be more substantial and drier than the German versions. I was surprised how difficult it was to find a decent bottle of Alsace Riesling in shops here. There is certainly no shortage of good wines being imported, but possibly they are not an easy sell. You won’t find much under €15, but there are some great wines in the €15-€25 category.

I have always been a huge fan of the Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Émile Riesling (around €50 a bottle) and should you come across a bottle of the Trimbach Clos Sainte Hune, you could treat yourself to one of France’s greatest wines. You will require a healthy wallet though; it sells for more than €100 a bottle. But the basic Trimbach Riesling, (€19.50, widely available), is one of the best-value white wines on the market.

Other names to seek out include Hugel, Sipp Mack, Schlumberger, Zinck, Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, René Muré, Meyer-Fonné, all from independents. Look out for anything from the two leading co-operatives, the Cave de Turckheim and the Cave de Hunawihr.

DSCF6855Riesling Réserve 2014, Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr, Alsace

Lovely lively fresh Riesling with crisp green apple and pear fruits. Nice wine.

Stockists: Clontarf Wines; World Wide Wines, Waterford.

DSCF6863Kreydenweiss Riesling Andlau 2013, Alsace, Biodynamic

Delightful fresh youthful floral aromas and generous green fruits, finishing bone dry.

Stockist: O’Briens

DSCF6851Trimbach Riesling Réserve 2010, Alsace

A glorious maturing Riesling boasting honeyed toasted fruits with a steely backbone and dry finish.

Stockists: Donnybrook Fair; Jus de Vine.

Bargain Wine-

ImageHugel Gentil 2014, Alsace

A blend of all five Alsace white varieties; attractive soft easy peaches and pears with a welcome cut of lime zest.

Martin’s; McHugh’s; Jus De Vine; Sweeneys; Green Man, & independents.

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Dinner chez Doorley

On the way home from a wonderful long weekend in west Cork, we stopped off for dinner with Tom and Johann Doorley. Both are great cooks, so the dinner was excellent. We went mushroom hunting in the pouring rain and were rewarded with a decent haul, providing an extra unexpected course. I brought along the Léoville-Lascases; the rest came from the Doorley cellar. Missing from the lineup is a bottle of 2001 Riesling Kabinett Graacher Himmelrich Willi Shaefer – which was superb; light, honeyed, crisp and utterly delicious.


Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2000
Strange: the label was Fred Emile, the cork was branded Vendage Tardive. Possibly a VT sticker had fallen off. Trimbach combine the two in exceptional vintages, such as 2000. In any case sadly the wine (which seemed sweetish) was oxidised.

Ch. Léoville Lascases 1986
Drinking beautifully. Lovely slightly austere ripe blackcurrant and damson fruits, a good tannic structure and a long dry finish. Very Bordeaux, but not too tannic or severe. Excellent wine.

Clos des Lambreys 1996
A Grand Cru from Morey Saint Denis (now owned by LVMH). This was fully mature but still all there. Fragrant leafy nose, soft sweet ripe developed fruit with a savoury note and decent length. Charming wine.

Harveys Bristol Cream.
A 1962 bottling and an extraordinary wine. Apparently Frank Searson (lately of Searsons Wine Merchants) asked Harveys to use longer corks, which may account for the fantastic longevity of the wine. But obviously Harveys Bristol Cream was a different drink in those days. Deep in colour, with a complex nose and palate of figs, raisins, toasted nuts and dried fruits. Sweet, but not sickly. Obviously a lot of Pedro Ximénez used. An amazing long finish. Superb wine.

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Trimbach Riesling Réserve 2010

<strong>Trimbach Riesling Réserve 2010</strong>

DSCF6851Trimbach Riesling Réserve 2010, Alsace
€23 from Donnybrook Fair and Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.

This is a glorious maturing Riesling with complex honeyed toasted fruits and a steely backbone that brings a pleasing austerity. It is completely dry, light in alcohol (13%) and offers great value for money.

This would go perfectly with chicken, pork or shellfish.

I have indulged my love of Alsace Riesling to the full over the last few weeks. First on a trip to Strasbourg with Lidl (they bring us to France every year to taste their new French selection), and then several tastings of the wines available here. I even succeeded in drinking a glass of Clos Sainte Hune, one of France’s greatest white wines while over there. This Riesling Réserve was new to me, and really stood out in my tasting. It is well worth the premium (€4) over the standard Trimbach Riesling. Having said that, Donnybrook Fair have the latter for a very competitive €15.99. Both a great wines.

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Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling 2007

<strong>Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling 2007</strong>

IMG_4795Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling 2007
Around €45-50 from independent wine shops – I got mine fro €40 from La Touche in Greystones.

Light and elegant, with intense honeyed fruits, a strong mineral streak and a bone dry finish. A mere 12.5% in alcohol, but packed with flavour. Drink with crab or other shellfish.

A wine that may seem expensive but I still reckon it is a bargain. The wine pictured beside it, Clos Sainte Hune, a great wine made by the same producer, from a single vineyard, costs well over €100 a bottle if you can find it. Cuvée Frédéric Emile is made from two grand cru vineyards, although it doesn’t say it on the label. To me, it is one of the great wines of Alsace. It lasts forever too; I am hoarding the last few bottles of a case of 2002 – a brilliant wine.

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Easter Weekend – the wines

It was my birthday on Easter Sunday, so I felt justified in opening up a few nice elderly bottles from my stash.


El Grano Chardonnay 2013, Chile
€15.90 from 64wine, Glasthule; Baggot Street Wines; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Blackrock Cellar; Le Caveau, Kilkenny.

An organic wine made by a Frenchman who set up in the Curico Valley in Chile. Gerard Maguire in 64wine, Glasthule first put me on to this wine. It is a delicious plump Chardonnay, with great purity of fruit and a lovely freshness.

Miro Traminec 2013, Jeruzalem, Slovenia

€20.99 from Cabot & Co., Westport or On the Grapevine, Dalkey.

Miro came over for the Knockranny Wine weekend, and put on a fascinating tasting of his wines. Included was a Traminec, or Gewürztraminer. I am guilty of ignoring this grape, mainly because I grew tired of the overblown aromas, flabby fruit and residual sugar that you so often find. Miro’s version however was lovely; lightly aromatic, spicy nose; soft textured lychees on the palate and good length. A charming wine to sup by itself or I suspect it would go nicely with Chinese or Thai food.


Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut Nature Champagne
Around €60.

We didn’t open up the bottle of Bollinger in the picture above for various reasons. The Brut Nature, has no residual sugar, unlike most Champagnes that have 9-12 g/l. It showed in the bone-dry, austere finish. I loved it, but others were a little less sure. It didn’t stop us polishing off the bottle before dinner though. Light crisp apple and brioche with an elegant bone dry long finish. Nice wine.

Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2002, Trimbach, Alsace
The current vintage costs €50 – 60 a bottle.

One of my favourite white wines, and this bottle, the last of a case I bought, was superb. Elegant and restrained, with perfectly mature fruit. Toasty, nutty and honeyed, with plenty of acidity, I could have sipped it all evening. Despite the price (around €50) I still believe this is one of the best value white wines. It is made from several Grand Cru vineyards, and is less expensive and more consistent than most grand cru white Burgundy.


Villa de Corullón 2001, Bierzo
Around €65 a bottle.

This had been stashed away for the best part of a decade. As I had just finished a tasting of Bierzo, I thought it might be nice to try a mature version. It certainly didn’t taste ten years old with sour cherries, plums and a strong mineral streak. Good length. The leftovers were nice the following day too. Nice without every bowling me over.

Ch. Canon 1990, St. Emilion Grand Cru Classé


I bought this around fifteen years ago; elegant and maturing with an attractive leafiness and some restrained plum fruits. It still had some tannins on the finish. Opened out nicely and went very well with my roast pork. Very good rather than excellent.

Ch. Coutet 1989, Barsac

Rich marmalade and honey fruits, with a tangy long sweet finish. Very tasty, lacking the complexity to be really great, but a very nice wine.

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The wonderful wines of Alsace

The wonderful wines of Alsace

From the Irish Times Saturday 8th August 2015

Tucked away in a corner along the eastern border of France, Alsace is often passed over by wine lovers. I admit to being guilty of this myself. I cannot remember when I last featured the wines from this region. It holds a place dear in my heart, and not just because of the lovely wines, for it was here that I spent my honeymoon.Mind you, it was bitterly cold in early March so romantic walks among the vines were not really an option. I have been back several times since though. This is a beautiful region with great walks and delicious food too. I would highly recommend a visit, preferably avoiding the summer months when picturesque towns such as Riquewihr are jammed with tourists. Alsace offers a range of great wines including a few light red wines and some very good rosés, both made from pinot noir. But the region is best known for its fantastic dry white wines. These deserve to be better known by the Irish wine drinker.

At first glance the wine nomenclature seems very clear. Alsace is the one region of France that has always allowed varietal labelling. A wide variety of grape varieties are permitted, but you are most likely to come across riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, pinot blanc and muscat for white wines, and pinot noir for red and rosé. The majority of wines are crisp, clean, fruity and dry, exactly the kind we like to drink. Alsace also makes some great sweet wines. The term “vendange tardive” on a label means that the grapes were harvested late and the wine is likely to be medium dry.The classification Sélection des Grains Nobles (SGN) indicates a wine made from grapes affected by noble rot, as with a Beerenauslese in Germany. This is likely to be sweet, although with both of the above wines it depends on the grape variety and producer. Again this seems fairly clear. The problem with Alsace for wine drinkers is that in recent years, some wine producers have started to make off-dry wines. This is partly a result of rising temperatures and lower yields. But very few give any indication on the label, making it difficult for the consumer to know what kind of wine they are buying. A few grams of residual sugar is not a problem, but I have bought a number of sweet flabby wines that lacked acidity.This trend seems to be reversing a little, but when buying a bottle it is best to stick to well-known names or ask the shop assistant for advice.

As in Germany, riesling is held in the highest esteem. The very best are brilliant, compelling wines, powerful and complex with a taut steely acidity.Lower down the scale, you get lovely fresh apple and citrus fruits. Gewürztraminer seems to have fallen out of fashion a little, but when made well, the wines can be a great match for Indian and other Asian dishes, as can pinot gris, which tends to made in an off-dry style in Alsace.The surprise of my tasting were two pinot blancs, one each from Hugel and Trimbach. Both were light (12-12.5 per cent) elegant wines with plump juicy fruits and a pleasure to drink as an aperitif. Alsace also produces large quantities of sparkling crémant d’Alsace, some of it very good. The best vineyards in Alsace are designated grand cru. There are some 50 of these. Generally these are made from a single variety (although some producers are allowed to blend several) and it will appear on the label.

The two big names are Trimbach and Hugel. Both are good. I am particularly fond of Trimbach. Two co-operatives, the Cave de Turckheim and the Cave de Hunawihr, widely available through independents, produce a solid range of wines. Look out too for anything from Josmeyer, Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, René Muré, Sipp Mack, Meyer-Fonné and Kientzler.

DSCF5739Trimbach Riesling 2012

A lifted floral nose followed by lovely crisp lip-smacking green apple fruits, and a bone dry finish.

Stockists: widely available in independent wine shops.

DSCF5690Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés 2012

Enticing fresh quince and honey fruits with a lovely lingering finish.

Stockists: Searsons, Monkstown.

DSCF5673Muré Riesling Grand Cru Vorbourg Clos Saint Landelin 2012

Riesling at its imperious best. Complex intense honeyed fruit with a steely backbone.

Stockists: Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove & Avoca Kilmacanogue.

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The Cork Debate

I am becoming more than a little tired of the cork debate. Before the zealots from either side get started (and both sides can be very evangelical at times) I fully accept that corks are a very unreliable form of closure. It is deeply frustrating to spend a large sum of money on a bottle of wine, lay it down for a few years, only to discover the wine is faulty. That aside, when pleasant conversations about wine degenerate into heated discussions about corks and screwcaps, I tend to lose interest rapidly.

At a dinner party last week, I served two bottles of Cepparello 2006, Paulo di Marche’s subtle elegant Super-Tuscan Sangiovese. They had been given to me as a thank-you by a very generous friend. The sole difference between the two was one had been bottled under cork, the other screwcap or stelvin. David Gleave, M.D. of wine importer Liberty has persuaded some of his producers to change to screwcap for his U.K. clients although conservative Italy and other countries still demand cork. Our tasting was inconclusive. The screwcap version seemed slightly fresher – or was it my imagination? But both were super wines, subtle refined and mellow. We happily drank both.

However, Gleave’s point (and that of others too) was proven not by the Cepparello but by the wine I served with the starter; Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2002 from Trimbach.  This is one of my favourite wines. The first bottle was fine but a little shy and retiring. The second was superb; more developed with magnificent honey and nuts wrapped up in a fine core of acidity. Neither wine was corked or faulty. It was simply bottle variation. Had I only uncorked the first bottle I would have been a little disappointed, wondering why I had bought a case of this wine when I came across it at a tasting four years ago. A fairly conclusive argument for screwcap?

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