Alsatian wines are a line of fabulous primarily whites that are terrific accompaniments to holiday meals. Last month, I attended a wonderful dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which chef-owner Tony Maws created a tasting menu that perfectly complemented several different wines from Alsace.
The region of Alsace is located on the eastern border of France, neighboring Germany and Switzerland. This area is protected by the Vosges Mountains; Alsace is one of the driest areas in France. The wines are mostly white made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, and Muscat grapes. There are a few reds made from Pinot Noir. All Alsace wines are labeled with the grape variety from which they are made.
Over 20 percent of wines made in this region are Crémant d’Alsace, an excellent sparkling wine. It’s made from the early harvest of a blend of grapes that can include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. These crisp, minerally sparkling wines hold their own against any champagne, and are a great choice to ring in the new year. Alsatian wines can be found in several wine stores throughout Massachusetts, including Andover Liquors.
Here are some suggested favorites to help make you holiday season special.
Willm Brut Prestige Crémant d’Alscace NV
Made from select vineyards of old vines bearing outstanding fruit. This sparkler has a pale golden color, full bodied with plenty of ripeness, and a long lasting finish.
Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2006
The wine is not released every year, only when the Trimbach family believes a vintage produces enough high-quality grapes. The wine exudes citrus and green apple, with a soft mouth feel.
Marcel Deiss Engelgarten 2009
Deiss is biodynamic, known for their field-blending (a technique where different grapes are co-mingled in the field, picked together, and co-fermented). This wine is exceptional, with loads of citrus scents and stone fruit flavors.
Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2010
A mixture of soils, climate, and location of the Hengst vineyard create this bold and rich wine. Crisp with bright acidity, including flavors of orange and peach.
Photographs by Lisë Stern