Nightcap Before Christmas #2
By Renee Allen
Nightcap 2: Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés 2011, Alsace, France $18
Allô Alsace! When Americans think about French wine, Bordeaux comes to most minds. For others, it’s Burgundy. And, of course, nothing could be more French than Champagne. It seems like the cool, northeasterly region nestled between the Vosges Mountains and Germany known as Alsace is oft overlooked. But Alsace has exceptional wines, especially if you’re a lover of whites, and deserves its due attention. And although one need look no further than the quality of its wine to fall in love with Alsace, this region has endeared itself to me by being home to the very first biodynamic estate in France. It is still a hotbed of organic and biodynamic grape growing today. Domaines Schlumberger practices both organic and biodynamic viticulture, and they plough and work the vineyards with the estate’s four horses.
One of my favorite grape varieties from this region is pinot gris. For all you lovers of pinot grigio out there, it is the same grape.
What creates the difference in taste, for the most part, is the soil and the climate. Alsatian pinot gris tends to have more powerful, riper aromatics, and a weightier mouthfeel. This beauty from Domaines Schlumberger is no exception. The warmth of the wine is foretold by its light golden hue (the winemaker compares it to buttercups), while the titillating aromatics announce the lively grapefruit and pear flavors within, and the hint of honey that adds to the slightly creamy mouthfeel. Although historically fermented to dryness, the wines of Alsace today often contain some residual sugar due to the changing climate. This wine has a hint of sweetness to it, which provides the perfect complement to foods with a slight kick to them, such as Thai or Szechuan Chinese. I personally enjoyed it with sushi and would not hesitate to serve it as an apéritif. And who doesn’t love the elegance of the flute d’Alsace, the traditional long, tapered green bottle, a reminder of Alsace’s Germanic history?
Renee B. Allen, Founder and Director of the Wine Institute of New England (WINE) and a Certified Specialist of Wine, is a regular contributor on the topic of local and sustainable wines. WINE’s “Connecticut Corkers” blog features wineries, winemakers, and wine events throughout the state, with an emphasis on wine education and appreciation.