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How Dry Is Alsace? Cuvée René Dopff Riesling

20 Jul

Dopff & Irion ‘Cuvée René Dopff’ Riesling 2015 Vin D’Alsace, Pfaffenheim, France. ABV 12%; MSRP $17/bottle.

 

Color is medium straw; the nose is floral blend of tulip, iris, and sweet honeysuckle. But the sweetness stops on the nose. On the palate, this is so deliciously dry! Gorgeous white peach, youthful pear and white stone fruits, with lively, flowing acidity, hint of almond, beautiful minerality, nary a hint of wood, but a tiny note of lemon peel on the finish.  This is so beautifully dry, such balanced flavor and acidity. It is never over the top; every sip is a mature, reserved, solid mouthfeel that makes me want another.

 

As for pairing, Cuvée René Dopff Reisling demonstrates how extremely flexible it is, coupling with  both high acid and rich, savory dishes. Baked goat cheese, bruschetta, and spinach bourekas in phyllo dough were great matches! It’s an obvious home run pairing for shellfish, raw or crudo, from sashimi to mussels to baked fish or delicate entrees. On a lark, I tried it with a beef stew my wife and I made; I assumed (incorrectly) that it would not be able to stand up to the powerful flavors of red meat. It turns out that the high acidity was a great choice with the huge number of vegetables in the stew, some sweet and some bitter, and could cleanse the palate while matching up with the various flavor profiles and make for a solid pairing.

 

I’m a fan of Alsace, and this wine is a perfect example of why: this wine is entirely hand-picked and sorted, pressed at low pressure, matured on the lees for four months before filtering, treated with such love, care and devotion- and it shows! This screams of the terroir of Alsace, of the brilliant, war-torn soils, the mineral layers, the subtle fruit profile, and of gentle, caring handling. And at this price, what’s not to love? Under $20 a bottle for a wine that is so beautifully demonstrative of the region and made by hand in one of the adored regions of France? Back up the truck, I need more than a few cases.

 

 

à votre santé!!

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Dopff & Irion Grand Cru Vorbourg 2009 Pinot Gris

28 Jun

Dopff & Irion Grand Cru Vorbourg 2009 Pinot Gris by Chateau de Riquewihr; AOC Alsace, Riquewihr, France. 14.5% ABV, MSRP $30/bottle.

Color is clear, golden sunshine. The nose offers grilled pineapple, toasted almond, and clover honey. A complex palate features mature Anjou pear, citrus,  honeysuckle, limestone and clay. An initial note of honey hits the palate early and disappears, secondary notes of sweet lime zest, marzipan, and minerals linger behind with a touch of heat across the top palate, a result of the higher alcohol on this wine. Refrigerated after opening, this bottle showed consistent notes with little shift in profile over five days. FIVE DAYS!  The gentle age on this is impressive, and the wine tastes capable of aging for another half century for those who would cellar properly.

 

Make no mistake, this is a wine that I’d be so happy to sit in the backyard and drink all afternoon long while chatting up my neighbors, but the hidden power here is in food pairing. There is plenty of acidity to drink this alongside raw fish, crudo and vegetables, as a matter of fact, I think this wine would be extraordinary for sashimi pairings. In the realm of cooked fowl, fish, salads, and vegetarian dishes, this pinot gris is ideal; while also capable of handling exotic flavors- Chinese and Japanese cuisine, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Peruvian foods.

 

 

This bottle offers history and respect before you even consider popping the cork: it is a Grand Cru wine from ancient soils and an insanely dry climate, that consequently provides complex, direct, and mineral expression. But open and enjoy it, and that thought automatically gains weight. The fact that I can purchase this for $30 is mind-blowing, compared to how hard I have to work to find a chardonnay at the same price point that is this wine’s equal, when I could easily count off chardonnays at double the price that could handle the job.

And why do we reach for Alsace wines when the weather is warmer? There’s really no question as far as how refreshing and expressive the wines are. But why we don’t automatically drink them all year long really mystifies me, perhaps it is how well I enjoy pairing Alsatian wines with food that is closer to the equator. The more I ponder it, the less it makes sense, as in Strasbourg I recall the cabbage, white sausages, tarte a l’oignon, meat pies and hearty casseroles served with these delightful white wines.   I will challenge myself to return to these during the brittle cold of winter and try tasting them again! I expect a similar level of pleasure, but I will have to wait and see if that is true.

This is a bottle worth picking up and enjoying, whether you drink it alone or pair it with food. Then you’ll consider when to pick up more and when to enjoy it next.

 

I need to hear from you, Dear readers! What do YOU like to pair with your wines from Alsace? Let me know! 

 

à votre santé!

 

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