wine line alsace
I once introduced a famous Alsatian winemaker as being "French," to which he corrected me and stated he was "Alsatian." It's no wonder this region has an identity complex. Alsace currently lies just west of the German border in France, but every time there is a ware, it ends up in the other country. With a regional capital named Strasbourg, and a wine bottle shaped to match every German wine bottle ever made, it's easy to see why people are befuddled by Alsatian wines. Plus, Alsace, like Germany, produces mostly white wines. Here are a few to try. This month's selections are available at Surdyk's, 303 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-379-3232
Schlumberger Riesling 2004, $19.99
Crisp with tart apple and caramel notes, this is a riesling for those who complain that rieslings are too sweet. It’s dry, clean, and bright and will make any spring evening a little better. Try it with a turkey sandwich with a little mustard and a schmear of goat cheese.
Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2006, $26.99
The most mispronounced (and misspelled) grape in the world—its literal translation is spicy wine. People either like this grape or hate it. I like it and think it is best when paired with spicy Asian food. The DZH has tastes of lush honey and apple fruit with nutmeg and cinnamon spice. It’s an alcoholic version of Peter’s Grill’s apple pie—all you need is some sharp cheddar on the side
Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc Reserve 2006, $14.99
Its pear, citrus, and honey flavors are bright and fresh with soft acids and low alcohol. You could drink it all day. You wouldn’t get much else done, but sometimes that’s the point. An easy drinker for the whole summer, sip alongside some fresh fruit or your favorite salad.
Hugel Gentil 2007, $13.99
Gewurztraminer, pinot gris, riesling, sylvaner, and muscat.
One of few blends from this region, the Gentil is a great intro to Alsace and shows how these grapes can excel when made in a dry style. It’s balanced with a soft, fruity mouth feel and a surprisingly long, clean finish. This is one of the best vintages in 25 years. Try it with fish or a chilled pasta salad.
Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Ste. Catherine 2005, $46.99
Pinot gris on a grand scale, this wine is complex and elegant, one of the best whites I’ve had the pleasure of drinking in a long time. It’s peach and burnt orange on the palate, followed up with minerals and a touch of sweetness in a long finish. Try with herb-roast chicken or a rich risotto.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at email@example.com.