Hello everyone! Here we are again - same time, same place, same channel - for another exciting adventure, this time in Alsace which is one of my very favourite wine regions of the world. Very early in my wine career I visited Riquewihr and was fully immersed and educated in the wines of Alsace by the late, great Johnny Hugel. I have been fascinated by it ever since, and hopefully you too feel that way, or perhaps may want to find out more after tonight’s tasting.
I could go into raptures about the food and wine of Alsace, but …
… so let’s get started with our pre-amble on tonight’s pair.
Chardonnay Vin de France, Dopff au Moulin 2017 13% £18.50
The Dopff family have history in Alsace going back to 1574! In the 17th century Jean-Daniel Dopff settled in Riquewihr as master-baker and innkeeper.
His son, Balthazard-Georges, born in Riquewihr in 1667, became master cooper and was thus the first to associate the name of Dopff with one of the wine professions.
In the 19th century the Dopff business as we know it today was founded. Etienne-Arnaud Dopff is the current General Manager – any of you attending our tastings in London or Brighton next week will have the pleasure of meeting him.
Why is this called Vin de France, when it’s made in Alsace? Because chardonnay isn’t a permitted grape variety in the appellation, and there is no IGP Alsace-Lorraine, so it has to be Vin de France. Don’t you just love wine laws?
This is an elegant, classically styled chardonnay grown above the charming medieval town of Riquewihr in Alsace. Its part barrel-fermentation and oak ageing imparts a little spice and creaminess to the breadth and texture on the palate.
The wine stems from half a hectare of east-facing flinty clay soils in Zellenberg, bordering on the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg vineyard.
Harvesting is done by hand, picking early and optimal ripened grapes, whole-bunch pressing, 75% fermented in tank and 25% in demi-muid (600-litre oak barrels).
Aged on the lees for 8 months before bottling. They say it will keep for between four and seven years. Food matches include traditional Alsace fare (quiche, tartes flambées,etc). Works also with asparagus, charcuterie, poultry, seafood and grilled fish. The Dopffs suggest this is best served chilled, around 10°C.
Pinot Noir, Domaine Paul Ginglinger 2017 13% £12.95
Domaine Paul Ginglinger is a young and dynamic family-run Estate. They have been making wine in Eguisheim for 13 generations, since 1610.
Before taking over the family Domaine in 2000, Michel Ginglinger trained as a winemaker in Champagne, Burgundy, South Africa and Chile.
Michel & Loreto Ginglinger
Every Alsace house has its own style – the Ginglingers produce dry, fresh, full-bodied and delicate wines, all true to their terroirs. They own 12 hectares of vines on limestone bedrock mixed with marl and sandstone, including in two Grand Cru vineyards, namely Eichberg and Pfersigberg.
They are currently in the process of converting to certified organic practices, ploughing rather than using herbicides, natural rather than chemical fertilizers, and environmentally safe plant protection.
In the cellar, Michel makes all the wines, giving extra care is given to every step of the process in order to preserve the natural expression of the fruit and the character of the specific terroirs. This Pinot is a blend of two plots of marl and limestone in Finkenhasen and Hinterer Eich, the latter which is in Grand Cru Eichberg. The grapes are hand harvested and after fermentation the wine is aged in large oak casks for eight months.
Delicate and refined, showing great pinot typicity, it still has a solid structure. It goes with pies, charcuterie, lasagne, hot-pot, pizza, stews and cheeses such as Saint Nectaire and Gouda.
See you at 8pm, duly armed with bottles and glass!