2001 Stirn Gewurztraminer Selection de grains nobles (SGN) 12.5%

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2001 stirn gwt sgn

From, Alsace France – which displays the exoticism of the Gewürztraminer grape to great advantage, whether dry, off-dry, or in this instance – very sweet. The term for heavily botrytised grapes in Alsace is Selection de grains nobles, usefully abbreviated to SGN.

From a 500ml, bottle, the cork was in superb condition. The wine is bright deep amber in colour with some copper highlights. Purchased at the winery in 2009 (€29.5), and accidentally cellared until now, it’s a welcome surprise that the wine has not merely survived but thrived.

It has floral grapey rose-petal and musk scents, tropical fruits, dark honey, ripe pear and honeysuckle- with a dash of sweet ginger spice mix. The palate is bright, rich and full of energy; rose-petals again, honey and viscosity, orange citrus tang– and of course it’s very sweet! Varietal identity is still recognisable – it’s aromatic, spicy and absolutely delicious.

Drink to 2025 (but why wait?), and 93 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.

 

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.