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.

2000 Zind Humbrecht Rotenberg Pinot Gris SGN 11.5%

The cork broke, but performed its task; the colour of this wine is dark amber, with some copper tints (and harmless tartrate crystals).

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Pinot Gris is a low-acid variety, but from appropriate sites- and old vines-  is capable of extended improvement with cellaring.  Zind-Humbrecht has wonderful sites in its Alsace home.

There is lots happening- spiced apple and pear, lime marmalade, marzipan and pastry- perhaps a smidge of VA too; the palate is intense and viscous, its length supported by some phenolics. It seems quite alcoholic in weight and mouthfeel (not hotness), but the label shows this perception is erroneous, an artifact of its botrytized concentration (153 g/l of residual sugar).

Details of the vintage, and this wine with notes from Olivier Zind-humbrecht are here.

Drink to 2025, and 91 decadent, easy points.

2001 Zind-humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal SGN 12%

Is 15 years too old for an Alsace SGN?

Thankfully the cork had not influenced the wine.

According to the Hugel vintage chart, 2001 in Alsace was special for late-harvest Pinot Gris.

For once, the usual informative vintage and wine notes from Zind-humbrecht (from a Coe Vintner’s site) have been truncated, so I’m missing some background. I understand that the site Clos Jebsal is particularly favourable for late-harvest and botrytis styles – and this wine contains 168 g/l of residual sugar.

2001 zh pg sgn

The wine’s colour is amber with some copper tints.

The bouquet exudes freshness, tropical fruits, glace fruits, marmalade, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. The palate is yellow peach, nectarine and  and mandarine. It’s viscous, textured, balanced, and ripples with vitality. The complexity of the bouquet and palate really sets this wine up as special.

97 points, drink to 2025.

2000 Louis Sipp “couer de trie” Selection de grains nobles Pinot Gris SGN 12%

From auction, this is a 500ml bottle from Alsace – keen researchers may find some notes I made on Starforum back in 2008 “somehow carrying the pineapple, cinnamon, some light butterscotch, baked apple pie with just enough acidity – a nice wine with huge sweetness”.

Pinot gris and residual sugar is a wonderful match.
2000 louis sipp pg sgn
The cork has mercifully behaved, and at 16 years, the wine is now a deep amber colour with copper tints (no drama in a botrytis wine). It’s floral, mostly with ripe apricot, apricot jam and cinnamon spices. This is maintained on the palate, with touches of marmalade, citrus peel, and some baked apple. It’s sensual and voluptuous, the acidity continues to provide support.

While the wine may even have provided greater pleasure a few years ago, it still provides unctuous and luscious drinking- but please consume and enjoy soon.

90 points, drink to 2018.

Alsace, again

alsace may 20162001 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardive 12.5%

This wine has seen better days. The colour is a dark gold, but legitimate for its variety and age. It displays red apple and brown pear aromatics, plus some hints of bruised apple oxidation.

Its quite sweet (around 100g/l), but there is enough acidity to avoid any cloying; the pear flavours flow on a viscous palate, and the message is – drink up. Ready, and enjoyable but it had the misfortune to be paired with the following wine.

87 points, drink to 2018

2007 Dirler Spiegel Gewurztraminer SGN 12%

I was terrified to open this- from the last 2 wines from this Alsace estate, one was badly oxidised, the other corked – and no response from the producer despite 2 emails. But this wine was pristine.

Light gold in colour, its resoundingly fresh, with aromas of ripe red baked apple, musk, talc, cinnamon.  The balanced palate shows more rose petal, apricot and white peach, some honey and citrus, and is richly textured, fine, clean, and there is no cloying despite the 150-odd g/l of residual sugar.

It’s an outstanding wine, combining varietal character with botrytis richness.

96 points, drink to 2023

2005 Zind-Humbrecht Heimbourg Pinot Gris SGN 10%

zind sgn

The selection de grains noble (SGN) from Alsace. I guessed at 190 g/l; but is 219 g/l.

I struggle to define Pinot Gris; sometimes its pear-like, with more body than  riesling but throw in botrytis and its all too difficult. This wine is  at BA sweetness levels and the oiliness and honey elements could easily lead to choosing this as a Mosel wine; there are some phenolic aspects, nothing untowards.

Pale colour revealing some musk and lemon sherbet and botrytis spices, very sweet pear and apricot but held together by magic acidity; marvellous texture and balance, so clean – will live for another 20 years. Score 95+.