Is Stuart Pigott correct when he claims in his book Best White Wine on Earth, that Riesling is the best white wine on earth? It may not be the best but it is certainly high up on the list. Winefolly states, “Riesling wine has emerged as the most collectible wine among top connoisseurs and sommeliers alike.” Furthermore, Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape, A Wine Manifesto claimed, “If there’s any problem with Riesling, it’s that it will spoil you for anything else.” A well-aged dry Riesling can change the way one views all wines. It is a gateway to wine Nirvana. It is liquid gold!
My last wine seminar at this year’s Texas Sommelier Conference (TexSom) was exactly that: Nirvana. The seminar was entitled “Iconic Winery Retrospective: Maison Trimbach.” It was every bit as epic as last year’s “Vertical to Heaven Chappellet Tasting at TexSom.” Twelve wine glasses filled with Trimbach Grand Cru Rieslings dating back to 1976; and to top it off the session was presented by the charming and witty Jean Trimbach. Once again TexSom had taken me to wine heaven. Trimbach has been the number one importer of Alsatian wines into the United States since 1909. Many of these wines are either no longer available for sale or well out of my wine budget. Furthermore, as the tasting went on and the wines kept getting better and better my notes got shorter and shorter. Suffice it to say each wine was outstanding! Many of the flavor profiles were quite similar, with age making the biggest impact on the aromas, flavors, texture, weight, etc. Here is the list:
2009 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: crisp gold, orchard fruit, crushed stone, citrus; creamy, round acidity, soft floral notes and depth of minerality; Jean Trimbach said, “at the end of the day a great terroir always delivers.”
2009 Clos Ste Hune: crisp gold, a little more muscle from limestone, white flowers, orchard fruit, apricots, crushed stone, creamy, rich and round acidity, great mouthfeel
2008 Clos Ste Hune: golden yellow, great intensity, fuller with great acidity, rich and powerful, fabulous
2005 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: golden yellow, add bees wax and toasty brioche, velvety smooth, round acidity
2002 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: soft gold, add touch of baking spice, round acidity, rich mouthfeel, exceptional minerality, fantastic, my favorite to this point
1998 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: golden yellow, add salinity and petrol due to noble rot, still rich, round and acidic, spice notes, tropical fruit, white peaches, delicious
1990 Clos Ste Hune: legendary year in Alsace, dazzling yellow, minerality, salinity, floral notes, citrus, orchard fruit, unbelievable, this is why wines should be aged!
1989 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: darker yellow, a bit oxidized, rich, round and acidic, whoa, pure heaven, quickest harvest ever, tropical fruit, awesome
1985 Clos Ste Hune: bright yellow, add coffee and spice, whoa, each one better than the last, epitome of balance, finest nuance of terroir, incredible
1983 Cuvée Frédéric Emile: touch of petrol, rich and round, awesome
1976 Clos Ste Hune: darker yellow, smooth, less flavorful, back to floral notes, lots of life left, great structure
1989 Clos Ste Hune Vendanges Tardives Hors Choix : buttered brioche, apricot, orange blossoms, rich, mouth coating sweetness that is well balanced with acidity, perfect late harvest Riesling; “The grapes, generally affected by noble rot, are selected from only the best vineyards and only in exceptional years. The ‘Vendanges Tardives’ wines retain natural residual sugar which is in perfect balance with their delightful freshness. These wines are wonderfully intense and have an exceptional finish.”
From Trimbach: This exceptional wine is a product of the terroir in the “Rosacker” vineyard, located in the village of Hunawihr. This parcel of land, which stretches over 1.67 hectares, has been in the Trimbach family for more than 200 years.
The south, south-east facing vines are on average 50 years old and lie on a predominantly limestone subsoil. These factors give this Riesling a unique flavor of remarkable fruit concentration, enhanced by a refined hint of minerality on the finish.
After a few years of ageing, the typical characteristics of the “Clos Sainte Hune” terroir vibrantly shine through the glass.
The small annual production of 8,000 bottles on average, makes this wine an extremely rare treasure, much sought after by Riesling lovers and collectors across the globe.
Trimbach’s “Clos Sainte Hune” wine has an exceptional ageing potential as it can age 7 to 10 years after bottling without even reaching its peak.
The Trimbach Family keeps the bottles 5 years in the cellar for ageing before release.
“If there is one Riesling in the world which every wine lover dreams of tasting and savoring, it is “Clos Sainte-Hune.”
From Trimbach: The south and south-east facing Ribeauvillé terroirs Geisberg and Osterberg which overlook the winery have been producing this wine for several generations. The average age of the vines, 45 years, results in limited yields.
The marl-limestone-sandstone and fossil-flecked Muschelkalk composition of the soil, as well as the beautifully ripe grapes selected and harvested at the end of October lend this wine a remarkable personality: a dry and powerful Riesling, underlined by a mineral note and firm ripe acidity.
This wine is named for Frédéric Emile who became famous for providing a new guarantee of quality and authenticity for Trimbach in 1898.
The prestigious signature wine of the house, the “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” is highly prized by connoisseurs and collectors.
Ageing potential: The great “Cuvée Frédéric Emile” vintages age for twenty years and longer.
Trimbach’s Philosophy and Style:
The Family personaly looks after each operation, from planting to harvests and from vinification to bottling.
The Trimbachs have always had a purist vision. For 12 generations, the Family has been producing dry wines, very strictly structured, long-living and fruity, elegant and balanced: it’s the Trimbach Style!
Maison Trimbach’s vineyards are all situated around Ribeauvillé, where the soils are dominant in limestone (Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, Bergheim, Rorschwihr, Riquewihr and Mittelwihr).
They benefit from the unique Alsatian microclimate, thanks to the Vosges Mountains protection, which preserves the plain from the rain.
The Trimbachs let their wines age in the bottles in the cellar during several years before they release them on the market, especially for the Great Wines, such as Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile.
Riesling « Cuvée Frédéric Emile » is the Signature wine of the Family. It’s a dry and mineral Riesling, which remains true to the House’s Philosophy. Coming from the Geisberg and the Osterberg, two marno-calcaro-gréseux soils, Riesling Frédéric Emile has a great ageing potential.
My Song Selection: Last August The Drinks Business published an article explaining how rock n’roll listeners love Riesling. Ever since then I enjoy pairing Riesling with rock! Since TexSom’s Iconic Winery Retrospective featuring Maison Trimbach was truly nirvana, it only seems right to pair these epically awesome wines with Nirvana!
Get your own bottle of Maison Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile and Clos Sainte Hune and let me know what you pair with them. Cheers!