There's a wine region in France that I don't frequently write about but find myself constantly drawn to its offerings. Alsace, in the northeastern area of France, primarily produces mineral-driven, high acid wines that are intensely aromatic. The majority of production is dedicated to white wines, with some sparkling wines known as Cremant d'Alsace. Fuller in body than some other whites, they stand up well to food but are also a toothsome alternative to the light summer sippers I've been drinking frequently.
The 51 Grand Cru appelations in the region were recently granted AOC status to ensure the quality of the wines remains consistent. In these sites, only four varieties are allowed to be produced: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat d'Alsace. Also required? The wines must be bottled in the green fluted-shaped vessels. Quick history: the trade route along the Rhine, where Alsace and Germany did most of their commerce, was not a rough ride, so the fluted shape was ideal for packing and shipping the wines. It was also a cheaper style of bottle to produce so economically it was the best option. Over time, efficiency became tradition, which then became a marketing tool.
Recently I was sent a couple of Alsatian wines to try and the other night opened up the Pinot Gris. The Dopff et Irion Cuvee Rene Dopff Pinot Gris, 2012, immediately announced ripe apricot, lemon and honeysuckle on nose. Sipping through, the slight amount of residual sugar brought to mind candied peach and zesty lemon peel. I was reminded of the sugar-coated gummy candies that were thrown at a kid during his or her bar/bat mitzvah once the Torah portion was completed. (My dimished recollection of Hebrew School thinks we did this to celebrate his or her accomplishment and to send wishes of a sweet life. Of course, services were long and we all were a bit hungry by this point. Sorry, Rabbi). With a medium plus body and a good amount of acid, this wine was a delicious, lusty sipper for a warm summer's evening.
Keep tasting, friends....