When you were a kid did you enjoy playing tug-of-war? I remember at times enjoying this game and other times disliking it. I loved being paired with a bunch of strong kids and winning the match. I especially loved it when it was girls against boys and the girls won. However, I also recall receiving blisters and burns on my hands from the rope. And one time fell and skinned my knee. If you are in the back of the line you actually have much more control of the rope than in the front; those in the front get tossed around quite a bit. Overall it was a dizzying experience. I wonderful if this is how the people of Alsace have felt over the decades. They have lived in a sort of tug-of-war between France and Germany throughout history; however, the change of state has never effected the wonderful wines produced in Alsace.
This month our French Winophile group is going to explore the beautiful French wine region of Alsace. Alsace is located on the northeastern boarder of France and Germany, with a little bit of the region also bordering Switzerland. It lies on the west bank of the Rhine River, situated between the Rhine and the Vosges Mountains. It is a land of tremendous heritage and culture with one foot in France and another German. The area of Alsace, as part of Lorraine, changed hands through war, historical decisions and political strategies four times in seventy-five years. In fact, you will find both French and German languages spoken in Alsace.
As a wine region it is the only region in France to grow significant quantities of Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, both largely associated as German wines. Alsace also produces Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Crémant d’Alsace (an elegant and mineral driven sparkling wine), Muscadet d’Alsace, Sylvaner, and a small amount of Pinot Noir. Alsatian wines are some of my most favorite, especially the Riesling. One thing to know about Alsatian Riesling is that they are always crafted in the dry form. YUM!
Another aspect of Alsatian wines that I love is their strong minerality and crisp acidity. Wines of Alsace explains the terroir of Alsace is a wine maker’s dream because if you walk 100 feet in any direction you will find a different soil composition.
With 13 distinct types of terroir the wines of Alsace offer enormous variety of taste profiles and characteristics. Producers are able to harmonize their winemaking styles and traditions with their own plots, so that each grape variety and each wine is truly an individual—and pure—expression of Alsace. Here, minerality and freshness aren’t just concepts, they are the story of the wines. A prime location and abundant sunshine are partners to the soil, a mineral-rich blend of granite, limestone, schist and sandstone. It’s a winning combination that enables the steady ripening of the grapes, resulting in wines that are admired for their structure, complex aromas and flavors.
“Why doesn’t the world embrace Riesling, especially those from Alsace?” ~ Wilfred Wong wine.com
I have been blessed to have enjoyed a number of outstanding Alsace wine producers including: Trimbach (see Iconic Winery Retrospective: Maison Trimbach), Domaine Weinbach (see Happy Anniversary Baby), Paul Blanck (see Spending the Summer of Riesling in Alsace), and Domaines Schlumberger (see MMD Tour Hits Dallas). I can promise you I have loved every drop of wine I have ever sipped from Alsace; the wine I have to share with you for this article is no different. As you can see from my Alsatian collection I have been spoiled to enjoy mostly Alsace Grand Cru wines. Today’s feature is an affordable and delicious wine from the Alsace AOC.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling 2012: straw yellow in the glass; zesty aromas of citrus, stone fruit, floral notes, cinnamon and lychee all rest easily on a foundation of crushed stone minerality; lively on the palate with a crisp clean acidity in a slightly creamy texture with a firm minerality running throughout; round acidity, silky mouth-feel; clean finish. 11.5% alcohol; SRP $22.
Alsatian wines, particularly Rieslings, are some of the most diverse food pairing wines, pairing with a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. However, I wanted to explore Alsatian cuisine along with Alsatian wine. There is great food in Alsace. A favorite of mine is Quiche Lorraine, which pairs great with Alsatian wines, but I sought to explore a little deeper for this article. I chose to pair the Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling with Bon Appettit’s Chicken in Riesling with Prunes and Cabbage. It was a very easy dish and I love rustic French countryside food that prepares in one dish! It was a perfect pairing with the wine. If you want more delicious food pairing ideas head over to the Wines of Alsace web site.
More on Domaine Zind-Humbrecht from Wines of Alsace:
The Humbrecht family is one in a handful of Alsace producers that have been tending to grapes for over three centuries—393 years, to be exact! The family name reflects the union of two great families steeped in Alsace tradition.
Now run by 12th-generation winemaker Olivier Humbrecht, who is also France’s first Master of Wine, the estate is one of the premier examples of Alsace’s famed pure expression. In addition to his deep understanding of terroir, Olivier is an expert in biodynamics, a philosophical and sustainable practice first advocated by Rudolf Steiner, which emphasizes agricultural practices in harmony with nature.
For all his studies, however, Olivier has said, “The most important thing I have learned? Understanding wine!”
His understanding derives from practices such as low-impact farming, organic composting, restricted yields, hand-tending of the vines, use of native yeasts and long, slow fermentations in oak barrels rather than stainless steel tanks.
The Domaine’s vineyards are spread amongst four Grands Crus and six single-variety plots. The steep hillside vineyards produce exquisite aromatic white wines such as Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris.
Let’s see what my fellow French #Winophiles have discovered in Alsace:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is sharing “Pinot Blanc-Braised Duck Over Caramelized Fennel and Mushrooms”
David of Cooking Chat shares “Chipotle Chicken and Black Beans with a Gewürtz”
Jeff from Food Wine Click is sharing “Choucroute Garni: Fancy French Kielbasa & Sauerkraut”
Jill of L’Occasion shares “Wine for a Spring Meal: Camille Braun Auxerrois 2013”
Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog is sharing “Cross-Cultural Food and Alscace Wine Pairings with Trimbach Riesling”
Wendy from A Day 0n the Life of a Farm tempts us with “Gewurztraminer with Fried Chicken”
Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva is sharing “The Versatile Wines of Alsace”
Please join us this morning at 10CST using #Winophiles to share your love of Alsace.
My Song Selection: Many people have reported wine epiphanies from drinking Riesling. It is truly one of the most diverse and food friendly wines in the world and it is hard to find it crafted better than from Alsace. Oddly, studies have been done on the type of music most commonly enjoyed by those who love Riesling. In fact The Drinks Business published an article on this topic suggesting Rieslings are most loved by rockers. With the German influence in mind here is my song pairing:
Get your own bottle of Alsace wine and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers.