Alsace is a French wine region known for its stunning white wines. Alsatian whites feature Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. These wines are known for their mineral driven acidity. But, have you ever had Alsace Pinot Noir? For some of you the answer is an easy yes. I had never had the opportunity to taste Alsatian Pinot Noir, until now…
Alsace is an ideal region for wine. It sits on almost the same latitude as Champagne but has an entirely different climate. Because of the Vosges Mountains to the west, Alsace is sheltered from oceanic influences, resulting in being one of the lowest rainfall regions in all of France. Its semi-continental climate offers a long growing season with sunny, hot, dry days; furthermore, its location is at an altitude of 200 to 400 meters, allowing the vineyards to take full advantage of the sun. Another unique feature of Alsace is the 15,000 hectares of vineyards grow in 13 distinct soil types. The soil mosaic includes granite, limestone, gneiss, schist, sandstone, volcanic, and clay to name a few. These soils vary from vineyard to vineyard and even vary within a vineyard, creating wines with distinct flavors and aromas. All of these factors combine to create wines that are both elegant and very aromatic.
There are seven main grape varieties growing in Alsace: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Noir, and Sylvaner. These grapes are not only crafted into high quality still wines, they are found in Crémant de Alsace, a sparkling wine made in the method traditionelle outside the Champagne region. With 90% of all Alsace wines crafted from white grapes, the Pinot Noir is more typically used as a blending grape in Crémant d’Alsace Rosé. However, there is still red wine Pinot Noir being produced in Alsace and, thanks to my friends at Teuwen Communications, I finally have been able to try a couple of bottles.
2010 Domaine Paul Blanck Pinot Noir F Alsace France ($41): Crafted of 100% Pinot Noir; clear pale garnet with ruby hues; clean medium- aromas of blueberries, black raspberries, cranberries, dried herbs, mushrooms, dried rose petals, minerals, dusty earth; medium acid and tannins, light body with a medium length finish; light and lively wine, elegant, juicy on the palate with balanced earthiness for a well-structured wine, an “iron fist in a velvet glove” wine that delivered on every level. Truth is I have had a few wines from Domaine Paul Blanck and I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.
2014 Jean-Baptiste Adam Pinot Noir Les Natures Alsace France ($25): Crafted of 100% Pinot Noir, clear pale ruby; clean medium- aromas of bright red fruit notes of cranberries, raspberries, and currants, touch of cherry cola, white mushrooms, white tea; light acid, tannins, and body and a medium tart finish; a lovely easy drinking wine that is not complex, well-structured.
I wanted to pair each of these wines with food to further explore Alsace’s diversity. Both wines paired very well with their respective meals, as Alsace typically produces food friendly wines.
More about Domaine Paul Blanck from Skurnik:
The Paul Blanck estate traces its history in Alsace back to the 17th Century, where they produce a stunning and diverse lineup of wines from enviable parcels in the Haut-Rhin district of Alsace. Located in the village of Kientzheim, Domaine Paul Blanck produces wines that are balanced, terroir-expressive, and versatile. Owners Frédéric and Philippe Blanck farm ther vines without the use of chemicals, seeking to gain the clearest possible expression of vineyard character. From the chiseled, sumptuously mineral Schlossberg to the opulent and broad Furstentum, Blanck’s Grand Cru offerings rank with the best in the region. His single-vineyard (lieux-dits) wines from such sites as Patergarten and Rosenbourg are comparably top-flight, and his line of everyday ‘Classique’ wines show the versatility and breadth of the Blanck range.
More about Jean-Baptiste Adam from Wines of Alsace:
Fifteen generations have been involved in winemaking at Jean-Baptiste Adam, a biodynamic estate in Ammerschwihr in Alsace’s Haut-Rhin region. It was Jean-Baptiste V who converted the winery to biodynamic practices and built a modern facility dedicated to the production of Crémant.
And from Jean-Baptiste Adams web site:
In our continuous quest of qualitative excellence, and by showing impeccable respect to the environment, it became natural for us to associate to our well known range of “Grand Vins de Jean-Baptiste Adam”, dedicated to the expression of the terroir, with an organic range of wines which are fully dedicated to the expression of the grape variety. Produced in perfect harmony with the soil, the earth, the air and the vines, vinified and matured in century old wooden casks, “Les Natures” are wines of character, generously expressing pure and natural flavors, and which will satisfy all amateurs of true pure and natural wines!
Alsatian Pinot Noirs can be a challenge to locate in the US, but they are imported and available so please check your local wine retailer or search online for these wines. You will be so glad you did!
*Disclosure: Wines were sent as media samples; all thoughts and opinions are my own.
My Song Selection: Pure, elegant, sophisticated, Alsace Pinot Noir.
Get your own Alsace Pinot Noirs and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!