Nestled amidst the French, German, and Swiss border,
Straddling multiple climates and cultures, Alsatian wine-making reflects this diversity of tradition. Influenced heavily by Germanic winemaking traditions, the regionâ€™s grapes are almost exclusively German in origin, its varietals rarely blended, and its aging process almost completely devoid of oak. Yet the verve, structure, and body of Alsatian wines express a decidedly French sensibility, which is ultimately more pronounced in the final product. Unlike German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers, which are notorious for having high degrees of residual sugar and for retaining a delicate and fruity character, Alsatians are celebrated for their steely backbone, their acidic grip, and their dryness. These flavor profiles are ideal in complementing the hearty meat and cheese dishes typical of the region. Not many whites can stand up to this challenge, but local wine-makers, in a climate too cold to produce robust red wines, have ensured that Alsatian whites can. The result is some of the most memorable white wine in the world. Whatâ€™s more, it pairs beautifully with almost any dish you could serve at your table.
Abarbanel launched its Alsatian venture with a collection of three still white wines, one still red, and one bottle of sparkling Cremant (French word for sparkling wine made in the traditional Champagne method). Below, I have listed my ratings for all the wines in this noteworthy assemblage. As I have explained, the whites are the real champions of this bunch, and you should attempt to track them down at all costs (especially the Gewurz), but if you happen to chance upon a bottle of Abarbanel Pinot Noir in your local wine store, consider giving it a whirl. Hey, for $15 why the heck not?
90 Abarbanel Gewurztraminer 2006 - This is a fantastic example of an Alsatian style Gewurztraminer with an intense nose of ginger and spice, and lingering cloves and incense on the finish. Well-balanced with a round, rich mouthfeel, this wine is a true delight.
Cremant dâ€™Alsace NV - Medium bright, lemony color with mid-sized
bubbles. Very creamy green apple and pear on the nose, moderated by
enough yeast to bake bread for all of
86 Abarbanel Pinot Blanc 2006 - Medium-bodied and gentle on the nose and palate. Crisp acidity makes it a refreshing summer beverage and a wonderful match to seafood dishes.
85 Abarbanel Riesling 2004 - Typical of a Riesling, this wine smells of flowers and glycerine. Very acidic wine with lots of green apple and pear on the palate. Refreshing, but with a short finish and slightly bitter mid-palate.
84 Pinot Noir 2005 -
Strawberry red in color, and thin-bodied even for a Pinot Noir. The
nose shows a vibrant earthiness mingled with plum fruit and hints of
vegetal matter. Rich, medium-bodied palate, but with a slightly
metallic taste and a short finish.