2007 Dirler(-Cadé) Gewurztraminer Grand cru Spiegel Selection de grains Nobles 12%

From Alsace, with its cork in excellent condition. This wine is from an exceptional year for late-harvest Gewurztraminer in Alsace. Gewurztraminer is unfairly maligned as being a “beginner’s variety” with its overtly aromatic musk, rose and lychee characters (often allied with inappropriate levels of residual sugar) make it instantly recognisable and appealing, with typically minimal ability to improve with bottle age.

In Australia, this stereotype is unfortunately largely true, with some exceptions (Delatite, Lillydale Estate, and occasional surprises from Pipers Brook and other Tasmanian producers come to mind- perhaps we have deployed lesser clones in inappropriate areas?). New Zealand has had more success with the variety with Lawson’s wines readily available.

Alsace sees gewürztraminer’s varietal expression at its fullest, with wines ranging from dry styles through to full-throttle heavily botrytised examples. Some gewürztraminer wines from Hugel, Trimbach, Stirn, Paul Blanck and  Zind-Humbrecht have provided special enjoyment over the years. Alsace, with its mix of German and French speaking residents, history, its all-around scenic prettiness, wines and cuisine should not be neglected in travels – and I have visited several times.

Dirler has an extensive list of wines available, and I have previously written about several different Dirler wines in my blog.

2007 dirler gwt sgn

This wine is a bright and healthy gold colour. It presents wonderfully as fragrant, musky, grapey, spiced, brisk and fresh. This is a full-on, heavily botrytised, powerful dessert-style wine (152 g/l residual sugar) and the palate shows dark honey, icing sugar, yellow peach, spices and lime flavours. There is abundant acidity to balance the substantial residual sugar, and the texture is lush and supple. This is just a fabulous example of an SGN, with a very, very trivial quibble about some minor palate hardness.

Each time I sampled this wine, its score – as a benchmark of this style – improved; it just possesses super drinkability.

Drink to 2025 (it may last much longer but I fear the hardness will become more obvious), and 95 points.

2007 Dirler Gewurtztraminer Saering vendanges tardives 14%

Alsace, Grand cru, and 54 g/l residual sugar. The VT description really just means late harvest. It seems I wrote about this wine about two years ago, and my notes and score are moderately consistent (but this time the camera refused to take even a passable photo).

The cork has lasted well and the wine is a bright deep gold colour,  Gewurztraminer is an aromatic variety, and there are attractive mixed scents including honey, rose-petal, orange blossom, marmalade and cooking spices (mainly cinnamon).

The palate is true and lush, with more stewed apricot, orange marmalade, and grapey ripe sultana displayed. It is rich, ripe and becoming a little hard, with its sweetness being slowly overtaken. But I doubt that many will have deliberately kept this wine for so long, and it improved for one day after opening before its charms receded. It was probably more exuberant a few years ago.

Drink up, but 90 points still.

 

 

 

 

2007 Dirler Gewurtztraminer Saering vendages Tardives 14%

A late-picked wine from a Grand Cru Alsatian site.  It’s too easy to typecast Gewurtztraminer as a beginner’s wine, but it can interest more than neophytes, especially when  the wine is from Alsace.
IMAG0724
The cork was in immaculate condition, and the wine a bright clear medium  gold colour. The excitement begins- intoxicatingly floral- tropical fruits, ripe apricot, mandarine, ripe pear, musk-stick and cinnamon; the palate continues this interest- it’s extensive, with enough acidity to carry the 54 g/l of residual sugar. The wine is beginning to dry, and was likely to have been better a year or two ago (with cork vagaries, a bottle consumed a year ago was not as lively, showing some oxidation).

A faint touch of hardness probably reflects a combination of its age and alcohol level. Absolutely no complaints overall, as the bottle contents vanished rapidly.

Drink now, 91 points

 

2007 Domaine Stirn Gewurtztraminer vendanges tardives 12%

Gewurtztraminer is destined to remain as a minor grape variety; the wines can often have a pinkish tinge, and provide, easy, usually obvious appeal to people beginning their wine education. But it has more merit than that, especially in its spiritual home of Alsace.

Australia has some Gewurtztraminer planted, but results overall have been disappointing, with only occasional outliers from careful cool-climate producers Pipers Brook (Tasmania), Delatite (Upper Goulbourn), Lillydale (Yarra Valley) and Seppelts Drumborg (Henty, Victoria) providing flashy, memorable excitement.

When I visited the winery, winemaker Fabien Stirn (freshly off the tractor) presented Gewurtztraminer wines from Brand, Mambourg and Sonnenglanz (with his ambition on further sites) and had dry wines from these sites (Riesling too) and (blended) sweeter wines on an extensive tasting list. Plus his English was noticeably superior to my schoolday French. Notably, I failed the “terroir test” at the conclusion of the tasting.

IMAG0653This wine is a lovely golden-coloured example of the late-picked style, displaying the typically charming, exotic grapey aromas of musk, Turkish delight and roses.  The palate is moderately sweet, but definitely is a rich juicy mandarine-flavoured style with the acidity preventing any sensation of cloying. Slightly oily, and faintly chalky, this wine has been caught in its prime, and it’s well suited as an unusual aperitif, or matched to a light dessert, or certain cheeses.

A neat surprise- drink to 2018, 90 points.

 

2005 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Hengst 14.5%

From Alsace, and much, much better than a bottle tasted about 12 months ago (drying out and where the alcohol poked through too). Hengst is one of the too-numerous distinguished sites of Alsace.

Long cork, in excellent condition. Quite a developed gold colour, but the aromatics absolutely leaped out, providing enormous confidence; musk stick, green pineapple rind, dried fruit spices as well.

2005-zh-gwt-hengst

The palate is rich and viscous, faintly oily; the integrated acidity sets off the 40-odd g/l of residual sugar providing a versatile “not-dessert” food match (chicken, tonight). Despite that sweetness, its a savoury style, concentrated,  with tropical flavours of just-ripe pineapple, a dash of lime, and some ginger spice to tickle the interest further.
A terrific wine overall, and an excellent tribute to the skills of Zind Humbrecht, the complexity that cellaring can bring, and the marvels of Gewurztraminer from the right site, in the right hands. Vintage notes can be found here.

If only every cork-sealed bottle could be this pristine!

Drink to 2023, and 94 points.

A night of Alsace whites

A group of enthusiasts aimed to explore mostly wines from 2007, except for the bracket of sweet wines at the end.

Alsace is in France near the German border, so its flipped a number of times. A cool Continental climate, and shelter from the Vosges mountains means it’s very dry. The wines can get very ripe, and often some sugar is retained to keep the wines balanced. Frustratingly, this means it’s difficult to tell in advance how dry/sweet any wine will be, and what food matches work.  Many wines are more textural and phenolic than Australians are comfortable with.

There are 51 grand crus sites – too many, and too large. The sweeter wines Vendage Tardive (VT) and Selection de grands Nobles (SGN) carry a significant premium price.

2007 Boxler Sommerberg Pinot Gris 13%

2010 Jean-luc Mader Schlossberg Pinot Gris (sweet) 11.5%

Off to a good start, with both wines gold in colour, the Boxler (approx. 30 g/l rs) viscous, displaying pear juice, limes, ginger and nutmeg spices, marzipan and citrus peel on the palate – drink to 2020, score 93).  The sweeter Mader was not as forthcoming on the bouquet, with dark honey to the fore, but had a finer, longer creamy mouthfilling palate, and was the groups preferred wine (drink to 2022, score 94 points).

alsace 2016 pg and gwt

2005 Zind-Humbrecht Hengst Gewurztraminer 14.5%

2007 Sorg Eichberg Gewurztraminer 13.3%

2007 Dirler Cade Kitterle Gewurztraminer 14%

The three wines all showed their varietal character. ZH rows their own boat, with high alcohols on most wines, this one showing rose, honeysuckle and musk, its length partly contributed by its alcohol, and the palate beginning to dry out (37 g/l rs).  Drink up, 85 points. The Sorg looked more “feminine”, gently textured, but some bitterness detracted (drink to 2018, 88 points). The Dirler (41 g/l rs) was the group’s preference, some apple and tropical fruits on its bouquet, toffee, honey, and an attractive touch of apricot on the palate; altogether lovely (drink to 2020, 91 points)

alsace 2016 rieslings

2007 Stirn Brand Riesling 13%

2007 Dirler Cade Kessler “heisse wanne” Riesling 13.5%

2007 Boxler Brand Riesling 13%

2007 Boxler Brand “K” (kirchberg) Riesling 13.7%

The Stirn seemed a bit awkward initially, austerity and some petroleum over-riding its flintiness. But it limbered up, with limes, white flowers and minerals emerging (drink to 2020, score 91 points).  The Dirler was our first casualty – blue cheese, butterscotch and oxidation too noticeable for me. The group favourite Boxler (18 g/l rs) was a delight; dried red apple, cinnamon and other spices, terrific length and lip-smacking texture (drink to 2025, 94 points). The Boxler “twin” was the 4 g/l rs “K”; with a similar slinky supple palate, but the higher alcohol made its presence felt Drink to 2020, 91 points).

Then it was a true gamble with a bracket of deliberately sweet wines, and individual desserts.

alsace 2016 sweeties. jpg

2009 Stirn Muscat VT 12.5%

2007 Dirler Saering Gewurztraminer VT 14%

1998 Zind-humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris 13.5%

1997 Hugel Sporen Gewurztraminer SGN 13%

1997 Louis Sipp Osterberg Gewurztraminer VT 13%

The Stirn was a restrained style but full of interest; grapey, fruitcake spices, poached pear, and Lemon peel (drink to 2020, 90 points)

Zind-humbrecht (71 g/l rs) was affected by hessiany TCA – a shame as there was plenty going on underneath. The Louis Sipp was badly oxidised.

The Dirler (54 g/l rs) looked slightly bruised-apple-oxidised, and a little hard and burnt; but still provided some drinking enjoyment with stewed apricots, orange blossom and some savouriness on the palate. There will be better bottles.

The Hugel (103 g/l rs) was a classy wine; even though the colour was amber, it had the luminous glow that often brings up the expectation of excitement.  And it delivered – citrus peel, marmalade, dark honey, on an unctuous balanced palate. And will keep for many more years (to 2023, 96 points)

Overall, the wines were ready to drink, (although the Boxlers look age-worthy) with cellaring a bit of a gamble. A very enjoyable evening, despite cork problems making 3 of the 14 bottles undrinkable, and one more slightly affected– a disgrace.

2001 Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Hengst 14.5%

Obsessive readers will recall an earlier post (May 2015) when I tasted the 2002 edition of this wine. Alsace wines are often “manly” and Zind Humbrecht is typically at the extremely powerful end. Hengst is one of the too-numerous Alsace grand cru sites. The colour is a bright brassy gold, but very respectable for a wine that is 15 years old (and the long cork has performed its duty).  Alas, the tall  bottle is ridiculously heavy. The wine however presents with archetype dark honey, musk and rose-petal aromas.

zh 2001

Alsace is situated near the border of France and Germany, meaning its history is littered with changes of nationality. On one of the occasions I visited this scenic area, the couple who owned the B&B spoke to each other in different languages – they understood both, but each preferred to speak in a different one!

Meanwhile, the palate is lush and ripe (guessing 40 g/l sugar), oily, honeyed, with apricot, other ripe stonefruits, camphor and unashamed phenolics.  Gewurztraminer is a wine of distinct intrigue, but usually one glass is quite enough. This bottle passes this hurdle admirably, despite nearing the end of its drinking span – and it probably would have been better a few years ago. The acidity has ensured the sweetness does not cloy, and the wine possesses “drinkability”.

Drink to 2018, score 90.

FYI, the vintage rating chart published by Alsace producer Hugel is here