Learning to love Alsatians
The other day we had the great pleasure to welcome Jean Trimbach, of the wonderful winery of Trimbach wines. Jean and his brother are the 12th generation of his family to make these marvellous wines, several of which we’re proud to include in the Olive Tree list.
Talking with Jean, and tasting some of his wines again, reminded me just how wonderful and under-appreciated this region of Europe is. Helen and I spent a very happy honeymoon week based in Ribeauville, travelling the region and visiting many of the stunning fortified towns of Alsace. The area’s cuisine is typified by the “tarte Flambee”, an amazing onion tart that only goes to show that, in the hands of a passionate creator, the simplest dish can be magnificent.
I think in many ways the same can be said of the wines of Alsace. Unlike other regions, its wines are all single varietal production. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir make up the grape varieties and all wines are labelled by varietal. More interesting to me was the fact that, unlike elsewhere, the grapes are grown by individual families and sold to the wineries. This allows the wine-maker the chance to select only the finest grapes to make their wines.
I think many people are simply reluctant to delve into the region, perhaps as a hangover from pre-Australian Chardonnay days, when the UK was awash with Liebfraumilch and Blue Nun. This has tarnished the whole area for many wine-lovers, despite these beautiful wines having nothing to do with that era of German sweet flower-water. Higher prices and this confused relationship with German wine mean diners often skip past these great wines. If only they knew what they were missing. (But then again, if they did maybe there would be less to go round for those of us in the know!)
But for the benefit of those reading this, I can assure you that the Trimbaches are still doing a fine job 12 generations on, the half a dozen wines I tasted were excellent in every instance. Subtle noses, rich flavours, palate length and colour all scored well in my limited view! I was particularly taken with the Gewürztraminer 2008, which we currently list. I also thought the Reserve Pinot Gris was wonderful, and I have no doubt it will come on to the list very soon.
So next time you come in, be adventurous and explore Alsace, I am certain you will not be disappointed!