“Getting to know wine is getting to know the world. More than just a complex and delicious drink, wine is history, geography, the very soil from which the grapes are grown. It opens us to life on a deeper level and it enriches and enhances our days.” -Thom Elkjer, Adventures in Wine.
A Sense of Curiosity is essential when it comes to expanding your knowledge of any subject and for many wine enthusiasts the desire to further cultivate their curiosity about the diverse world of wine can be accomplished in many different ways. Yet, more than any wine book or wine course, the simple act of tasting different styles of wine can be the greatest teacher in any wine lover’s life. Curiosity is a virtue that advantageously propels a wine lover no matter where they are on their journey. Each individual reflection leads to discoveries that fuel the excitement that makes up a part of every wine lover’s passion and continual exploration. Such exploration invariably helps us figure out what we like and what we don’t and fuels the desire to experience yet another unknown corner of the wine world.
The ideal experience to enjoy a wine for the first time is to try them where they originated, on their home turf. Tasting wines in a winery provides more understanding of the creativity and environment the winemaker intended to share. When that is not possible the next best thing is to put together your own Wine Tour at Home. In this new series I will be sharing a flight of wines from a specific winery and incorporating other ways to make the wine tasting experience a little more exciting with some food pairing ideas. I wanted to start with a wine region that I have not had the opportunity to visit yet, Alsace. Kicking it off, I have no blueprint to follow. This wine tour will only be guided by my own curiosity and the desire to wander the world of wine through it’s “Liquid Geography”.
The Alsace region in France primarily produces white wines and it is the only Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) region in France to make mostly varietal wines. These wines are typically from similar grape varieties to those used in German wines, such as Rieslings and the highly aromatic Gewürztraminer. The choice of Trimbach wines was in part due to its availability and because of its long history in the Alsace region. The Trimbach family has been promoting the history, unique terroirs and exceptional wines of Alsace since 1626. Located in Ribeauvillé, Maison Trimbach continues to pay homage to it’s family history with three generations who are work closely together to carry on the legacy. Brothers Pierre and Jean Trimbach, the 12th generation of the Trimbach family, personally handle the day-to-day operations. While Bernard and Hubert Trimbach, the 11th generation (father and uncle, to Pierre and Jean) continue to be an integral part of carrying on Trimbach’s winemaking vision. The Eldest of the 11th generation, Anne, has also recently joined the family business. The Trimbach family has always produced wines that are balanced and long-lived, with an elegant fruity structure that celebrates Trimbach style and this unrivaled expertise makes these wines a reference for Alsace wines across the world.
Due to its close proximity and history with Germany it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Alsace wines are dominated by German grape varieties, but these wines are distinctively different and crafted in a distinguishing Alsatian style. The wine-growing region of Alsace produces wines under three AOCs; Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru for still white wines (both sweet and dry), and Cremant d’Alsace for sparkling. With its continental climate and 13 different soil types, Alsace land supports a wide diversity of grape varietals although 90% of production is white varietal wines, with Riesling being the dominant grape variety. Pinot Blanc is a close second in Alsace wine production, followed by Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. With a principle favor of the more aromatic varieties and a focus by the winemakers to retain the original pure flavors of the grapes, it is understandable why some people describe Alsace wines as ‘the white wine for red wine lovers’.
With Riesling taking on the role of the signature grape of Alsace, and almost half of their production being Riesling, this 2018 Trimbach Riesling felt like the perfect way to begin this Wine Tour at Home. Where to start with this classic dry Riesling? Do I begin with it’s richness and incredible floral aromas or should I start off with its concentrated ripe fruit flavors? When both the aromas and flavors of a wine are equally impressive and vie for your attention, it is hard to pick a starting point. Trimbach extols the virtue of the Alsatian Riesling with craftsman like precision by bringing out its finesse, elegance, and fruitiness, not to mention the wonderful long concentrated finish. I really appreciate that this is a wine that you can open and enjoy now but also tuck way to for another five years to experience some of this varietals aging qualities. A beautiful wine that expresses the true potential that lies within the Riesling grape.
The wines of Trimbach have within them the ability to host a multitude of gourmet alliances. Their outstanding balance between acidity, fruitiness and minerality almost guarantee the triumphant pairing of wines and food.
Pinot Blanc is always a wine that gets my attention, its a wine that easily opens-up on the palate. Along with being incredibly versatile it is a well-balanced wine that is both delightfully food friendly and so much more than just a summer time wine.
Easygoing and fresh from start to finish, Pinot Blanc’s interplay with food makes it a cinch to pair with a wide variety of foods. it’s a grape with a hefty dose of virtue that can please a wine enthusiast looking for fruit or structure, because it incorporates both. Pale in color but rich in concentrated aromas of white flower and apricot the 2018 Trimbach Pinot Blanc is smooth with a wonderfully refreshing acidity. I couldn’t think of a better pairing with this Pinot Blanc than with a Classic Tarte Flambée, an Alsatian Pizza made with just four ingredients, Pizza Dough, Crème Fraîche, Onions, and Bacon. This dish was originally conceived by peasants using up any leftover dough, cheese and meat, and the fire oven which was cooling down after a hard day’s work. It makes a quick and simple meal but when paired with the Alsace Pinot Blanc from Trimbach it was a first-class way to take a tour of the Alsace wine region at home.
Tarte Flambée was an instant hit during our last family Wood Fired Pizza night. The next time that I make this delicious pizza I am going to try changing it up by using this recipe from VinAlsace.com
Wrapping up this first installment of Wine Tour at Home: Alsace, I couldn’t leave out the most charismatic of Alsace’s Nobel Grapes, Gewürztraminer. While it may be difficult to pronounce Gewurztraminer, this delicious wine is an easy one to fall for and once you’ve climbed aboard the Gewürztraminer wagon, you owe yourself the experience of Trimbach Gewürztraminer.
Saving the Best for Last!
With a combination of buttery, flaky pie crust on the bottom, tart apple, caramelized sugar, and warm spice sandwiched in the middle and a topping of ginger spiced oatmeal streusel topping, a slice of Dutch Apple pie begs for a luscious wine. That is where the 2017 Trimbach Gewürztraminer comes in, just pour a glass and give it a gentle swirl, that’s all it needs for you to experience the heady floral aromas that are fused with fruit and spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg. Without even a taste it is already a perfect pairing with apple pie. Add in the lightly sweet juicy texture bursting with apple and lychee notes and you have a fine tuned luscious wine that ends on an even higher note with its long finish.
The comfort of warm slice of Dutch Apple Pie meets its match with this exotic Gewürztraminer.
To spice up the standard oatmeal streusel topping recipe, I added a teaspoon of apple pie spice and a tablespoon of minced candied ginger.
Wine Geek Information: Gewürztraminer is a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc and the tongue twisting name is a German word meaning “Spice Traminer” or “Perfumed Traminer”.
With so many wine regions and wineries to explore as a possible Wine Tour at Home, I wonder, where will your wine Curiosities take you this year? I’d love to hear about your favorite at home wine tours.
“Wine is perhaps the closest thing the planet has to an elixir of life.” -Thom Elkjer, Adventures in Wine.
Cheers everyone, stay safe and healthy.
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