Alsace is one of the best sources for delicious, fruity white wines. As this month’s reviews show, there are dozens of great examples waiting to be bought and drunk, in a variety of styles. Do you want fine dry Riesling at a good price? Perhaps a sweet selection to enjoy for dessert? Maybe you’re looking for some of the best Gewurztraminers in the world, or a unique style of Pinot Gris? The answers to all of these needs are found in Alsace.
There are many wines from 2011 reviewed this issue. It wasn’t the greatest vintage in Alsace; 2010 and 2009 were better, as they were over almost all of France. But the 2011 vintage has given us wines that are soft and ready to drink, with just the right -level of acidity.
The reviews also demonstrate that white wines from Alsace can age beautifully in certain vintages. Wines (especially Rieslings) that are rated 90 points and above from the excellent 2007 vintage are still remarkably youthful. If you’re adding to your cellar, buy some 2010s now and enjoy them after you have drunk the 2011s, although some of the top-scoring wines from the latter vintage will be exceptions to this general guideline.
There’s another wine style from Alsace included in this month’s Buying Guide: Crémant d’Alsace. These sparkling wines are incredibly popular in France for the great values they typically represent. Now it’s time for Americans to take notice.
Although Alsace is center-stage in this issue’s Buying Guide, it also includes stunning whites from the Marche region of Central Italy, as well as selections from Austria and Greece. From the New World, check out reviews of wines from Chile and South Africa, plus hundreds of reviews from California, Washington and New York. And, as always, be sure to check out our complete database, with thousands more reviews, at buyingguide.winemag.com.
96 Domaine Weinbach 2011 Schlossberg Grand Cru Riesling (Alsace). This is, quite simply, great Riesling. It has all the subtlety that the grape can produce, as well as a sense of longevity. There’s an intensity of fruit—apples and citrus—that cuts through the texture, leaving a beautiful, lingering aftertaste. Still young, drink from 2016. Vineyard Brands. Cellar Selection.
abv: 13.5% Price: $39
96 Trimbach 2007 Clos Ste Hune Riesling (Alsace). Clos Ste Hune comes from a small parcel in the Rosacker Grand Cru vineyard. It is a wonderful, ethereal paean to Riesling—crisp while intensely perfumed with aromas of fennel and licorice. It’s dry in style, with elegant citrus flavors and a straight line of steely acidity, but finishes with a hint of honey. While delicious now, it’s not quite mature and could continue to improve until 2025. Esprit du Vin.
abv: 13% Price: $NA
95 Domaines Schlumberger 2009 Kessler Grand Cru Riesling (Alsace). There is both wonderful bite and density to this great wine. It has a weighty texture full of ripe, rich fruit. At the same time, the wine is bone dry and crisp with acidity. It’ s just beginning to mature, and while enjoyable now, it’s better to wait until 2016. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA.
abv: 13.5% Price: $30
93 René Muré 2011 Clos Saint-Landelin Vorbourg Grand Cru Gewurztraminer (Alsace). This is a very fine wine with sweetness tempered with a great sense of structure and concentration. Lychees dominate the fruit profile but are supplemented with pineapple and pomelo flavors that are sprinkled with pepper. It is rich and full in the mouth. It needs some more time to age, so drink from 2016. Robert Kacher Selections.
abv: 13% Price: $50
93 Willm 2011 Clos Gaensbroennel Kirchberg de Barr Grand Cru Gewurztraminer (Alsace). From a parcel within the Kirchberg de Barr Grand Cru, this is a structured, serious Gewuztraminer. It has weight as well as sweetness, but it’s the potential and ageability that is so impressive. Spice and gingerbread notes, as well as fine acidity, lend complexity to the honeyed, yellow fruits. Drink from 2016. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Editors’ Choice.
abv: 13% Price: $26
92 Dirler-Cadé 2007 Kessler Grand Cru Gewurztraminer (Alsace). This is sugary sweet with a rich spice-cake character, delicate acidity and a full, comfortable style. It’s an opulent but balanced wine for dessert with a pleasantly astringent, tight aftertaste. APS Wine & Spirits.
abv: 13.5% Price: $NA
94 Domaine Weinbach 2011 Cuvée Ste Catherine Pinot Gris (Alsace). Characteristically perfumed, this Pinot Gris is full bodied with a richness of texture. It is complex on the palate with notes of nuts, spice and an edge of citrus fruit. Age this wine and don’t drink before 2016. Vineyard Brands.
abv: 14.5% Price: $47
93 Domaines Schlumberger 2010 Kessler Grand Cru Pinot Gris (Alsace). This wine is medium sweet in style with a rich, complex character. It has notes of spice and honey that accent ripe peach and apricot flavors. The richness of the wine comes from it’s dense texture. It is ready to drink now, but will also age well. Maisons Marques & Domaines USA.
abv: 13.5% Price: $30
92 Rieflé 2010 Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris (Alsace). This is a textured wine with ripe and perfumed fruitiness. Honeyed in style and medium-sweet on the palate, it’s a complex, rich wine that’s ready to drink now, but could also improve with age. Maritime Wine Trading Collective. Editors’ Choice.
abv: 14% Price: $28