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The Cellar: Pinot Grigio + Beaujolais

Friday, January 11, 2013

 

This week we will be heading back to the ‘Old World’ and taste two classic wines that continue to be great values vintage after vintage.

2011 Willm Reserve Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

The first one is Willm’s Reserve Pinot Gris from Alsace. Alsace is France’s smallest wine region located along the northeastern border with Germany. The region has a turbulent history having switched ‘ownership’ several times going back all the way to the year of 962 and the days of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. Alsace is strategically located between the Rhine River and the Vosges Mountains, which provide the region with a ‘rain shadow’ effect. Despite being France’s northernmost wine producing region the climate is actually both dry and warm.

Ninety percent of the wine that is produced in Alsace is white with a little red also being produced – primarily from Pinot Noir. The grapes that occupy the premier vineyards and produce the region’s best wines are often referred to as the four ‘noble’ ones – Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. The Willm Estate, which dates back to 1896 and remains in the family to this day, is one of the region’s better producers - known for making great everyday wines, as well as some of the best regional wines from its Grand Cru vineyards. Their under $15 2011 Reserve Pinot Gris is dry, full-bodied and delicious with ripe peach and pear. The acidity and minerality keeps the wine fresh as it lingers on and on.

2010 Beaujolais, Domaine Dupeuble, Beaujolais, France

While technically located in the Rhone Department, Beaujolais is generally considered a part of southern Burgundy and the classic home of wines made from the Gamay grape. While some of you may know Beaujolais for their simple Nouveaus that are released every November, they actually do make more interesting wines than those. Apart from the Nouveau there are three levels of Beaujolais; straight Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Village and Cru Beaujolais. Increasing in quality and price the straight Beaujolais are made from grapes sourced throughout the region. Winemakers that wish to label their wines Beaujolais-Village must source their grapes from one or more of 38 named communes, which produces better quality grapes. Finally, wines made from grapes that are sourced from one of the 10 cru villages of Beaujolais can be named after that specific village. These wines can be seriously concentrated, tannic and ageworthy.

The 2010 Beaujolais from Domaine Dupeuble – a Kermit Lynch import - is a fantastic value and one I highly recommend you seek out. At under $15 this wines serves up classic strawberries and other red berries alongside distinct banana bubblegum aromas on the nose, which screams Beaujolais to any blind-taster. Try pairing this wine with teriyaki marinated salmon or a tuna burger.  

Steffen Rasch, CSW, is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

 

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