I have long been a fan of Alsatian wines and while they are such gorgeous food wines, they are some of the most misunderstood wines we find in the USA.
Part of the reason is the odd shaped, long bottle that the come in. These are not easily stored on shelves other than straight up. Another reason is the association with the sweeter and richer German wines from the other side of the Rhine River in Germany, as well as from other regions there.
But, its really for the uninitiated who have these perceptions and misconceptions for after spending almost a week in the Alsace wine region for the first time in many years I can honestly say, that the wines from the region that are produced by the smaller and more local producers are some of the most amazing white wines found anywhere and for prices below 10 Euros.
We spent the week walking the wine village of Riquewihr and driving to towns and villages nearby. Without a doubt the 2007 vintage has restored my love for the wines from this very misunderstood region of France.
For starters once you realize that what we see in the USA is a microcosm of mostly the big houses and the hand picks of a few importers you quickly sense there is amazing wine never leaving the villages simply due to lack of anyone attempting to.
For example, in Riquewihr I returned to Mittnacht-Klack, a house known for their sensational Gewurtztraminer. But Riquewihr also houses Baumann, a small producer with racy Riesling and ripe Grand Cru wines. In Mittelwihr the house of Charles Noll makes a delicate and delicious Riesling while the cooperatives in Turckheim and Bennwihr, now called Bestheim post merger with another cooperative also make some of the nicest and tastiest Pinot Gris around.
A drive to Blienschwiller finds the wines of Henri Kieffer and a darling winestub up the lane called Le Pressoir de Bacchus whose cooking rivals any of the top restaurants in the region, and whose proprietor elects to only serve wine of the town.
While we also stopped by Deiss and Albert Boxler, we avoided the big houses like Trimbach, Hugel and Dopff. We passed by the better known and imported houses like Leon Beyer, Kuentz-Bas, Kreydenweiss, Josmeyer, Schlumberger, Mure, Domaine Zind Humbrecht and others. By experiencing the wines from producers not yet imported my faith in this often overlooked wine region of France was maintained.