An invite to join fellow bloggers at the London-based Wine and Dine Society Alsace tasting is not one I could ignore; eight wines from the house of Leon Beyer in Alsace on the 9th floor of a hotel tucked behind Victoria Railway Station. What I didn’t realise is that the society is actually an off-shoot of Benson Fine Wines, but you wouldn’t know this from the tasting – no pressure to buy or any mention of it at all to be honest. None of the tasting wines are actually listed for sale on the Benson website, which may explain the lack of sales patter.
Cost for the evening was £30; great value considering the cost of some of the wines available. The food was a little basic (bread, a little salad and two slices of savoury tart) and didn’t really measure up to the ‘dine’ portion of the name and certainly doesn’t compare to the spread offered by Ultimate Wines at their similarly styled tastings.
Brief notes to each of the wines are below but for those who find ready such notes a touch dull… don’t bother with the Pinot Noir (why do they continue with Pinot Noir at all in Alsace?), the Riesling Cuvee des Comtes d’Eguisheim is drinking superbly but has years of promise ahead, while the Pinot Gris 2000 Cuvee des Comtes d’Eguisheim and the Gewurztraminer Cuvee Comtes d’Eguisheim 2000 display the house style (a touch of austerity) to the palate and aroma beautifully and are heartily recommended. Finally the sweeter wines – Vendages Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles – while stunningly delicious are seriously expensive. If you can afford them, then great. If you are poor like me then….
Leon Beyer Pinot Noir, 2002, Alsace, France. approx £15. A surprisingly deep colour (Alsace PN sampled before are little more than rose). Reasonable ‘Pinot’ aroma, nicely fruity palate, pleasant. Medium bodied. Scribblings Rating – 84/100
Leon Beyer Pinot Blanc, 2002, Alsace, France. approx. £15. Light lemony colour, pale, touch of floral touch to an uninspiring aroma. Nice balance. Lemony flavours. Jeanne picked up a little bottle age that appeared more forceful with some time in the glass. Again not hugely impressed. Scribblings Rating – 82/100
2000 Riesling Cuvee des Comtes d’Eguisheim, 2000, Alsace, France.
approx £25. A nose wiped clean with an oily rag – which is a fancy way of saying some development is evident on the nose with that distinctive kerosene aroma. Just a splash of sweetness (or maybe just high quality ripe grapes?). High lemony acidity finishes the rather excellent package. Production of 7000 bottles. Scribblings Rating – 88/100
Pinot Gris Cuvee des Comtes d’Eguisheim, 2000, Alsace, France.
approx £25. Restraint on the aroma, peachy, touch of minerality. Super palate if a little young with richness, balance, lemony acidity and pure full, drinkability. Production 10,000 bottles. Alcohol 13.5%. Scribblings Rating – 94/100
Gewurztraminer Cuvee des Comtes d’Eguisheim, 2000, Alsace, France.
approx. £25. Deep, deep golden hue. Again a restrained nose (house style?) none of that blousy Turkish Delight exuberance here thank you! Full, rich, ripe and fat and not overly floral on the palate either. Elegant. Bone dry. Long finish. Production of 15,000 bottles. Alcohol 13.5%. Scribblings Rating – 92/100
Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive, 1990, Alsace, France.
approx. £25 half bottle. Almost resembles an aged Riesling on the nose but with more fruit – all dried apricots and squishy apples. Botrytis touch too. Lemon. Rich, concentrated barley sugar flavours with a mouth-delighting honeysuckle and butterscotch finish. Lovely. Alcohol 13.5%. Scribblings Rating – 90/100
Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles, 1994, Alsace, France. approx £70. Intense but restrained aroma – a contradiction perhaps but there is a ‘tightness’ that is not often found from Gewurztraminer. Intense and sumptuous palate. Selection de Grains Nobles is the highest designation for the wines of Alsace. They are late-harvest wines which are rich, sweet and botrytis-affected. The acidity leaves a brisk, clean finish. Excellent. Production of 3,000 bottles. Alcohol 13.5%. Scribblings Rating – 92/100
Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobles, 1989, Alsace, France. approx £80. ‘Interesting’ was the general agreement on the aroma – tinned peas initially that developed into something so close to those fresh white supermarket mushrooms that it was, well, just like fresh, white supermarket mushrooms. Which was as odd as it sounds on a sweet wine. Concentrated and intense palate, rich with more of those mushrooms. Ripe peaches too. Production of just 2,000 bottles. Scribblings Rating – 82/100