Spittoon.biz Bookmark This page

Rieffel Sylvaner Grand Cru Zotzenberg, 2007

There is one major problem with the wines from Alsace. It is not the old issue with bottle shape – the singular reason many retailers spout for the poor sales of Alsatian wine (they aint gonna abandon those Germanic flutes without a fight mate) – and it isn’t the top-heavy Grand Cru vineyard grading either. (There are 51 Grand Cru vineyards but no other rungs on the quality ladder, Premier Cru for example).

Step forward Miss Sweetness; the issue that I have with Alsatian wine (ignoring those washed out Pinot Noirs obviously).

A lunch in Mittelbergheim, Alsace recently is a case in point. Our charming, stylish and gracefully French host (although technically from Scandinavia) was enthusing over the delights of Slyvaner – in particular the one Grand Cru hillside where it is grown – and ordered a bottle to accompany a fish course (Rieffel Sylvaner Grand Cru Zotzenberg, 2007).
With no disrespect or embarrassment meant to our host the match was a disaster. The wine was far, far too sweet to accompany the food.

In addition to highlighting the sweetness problem it also reflected badly on the high-aiming restaurant too, for not indicating such a potential conflict from one of their wines.
Yet from the label there is no indication of how dry or otherwise the wine is.

Simple – let the producer add a designation of sweetness on the label. It would be ‘relatively’ simple to set a residual sugar level equalling a specific sweetness. But “a wine with 16g of residual sugar” is not terribly consumer friendly and frankly such vino-tech talk is off-putting even to many wine aficionados.

There is a further complication – perceived sweetness. That Riesling may have 16g of residual but its high acidity and steely, mineral backbone gives the impression that it is much, much drier.
Some producers, such as Zind-Humbrecht since 2003, have taken the initiative to implement their own sweetness grades and put them on their bottle labels.

A tasting though at Zind-Humbrecht demonstrated how fraught this can be. A wine (Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Saint Urbain, Rangen de Thann, 2006) they originally graded as a 4 (on a 1-5 scale, with ultra-sweet Vendage Tardive being at 5) has, the wine maker, Olaf Richter, thought as we sipped and slurped our way through a majestic array of wines, dropped to a 3 over time. Which really doesn’t help in the slightest.

I don’t have the answer and at risk of ending on a flippant note this is exactly why wine is such a fascinating subject – you just have to try and taste EVERYTHING!
Berry Brothers currently list the Rieffel Sylvaner Grand Cru Zotzenberg, 2005 vintage at £14.60. The 2005 Riesling Rangen de Thann from Zind-Humbrecht can be purchased from Gauntley’s of Nottingham for £426.00 for a case of 12.

The Fish Course at restaurant Am Lindeplatzel, Mittelbergheim, Alsace

5 Comments »

  1. Suzele says:

    That’s very interesting…
    My personal preferences lean towards drier wines as well…(read bone dry…)
    And I agree that there are some wines that are on the sweeter side in Alsace.
    My personal impression is that the grand majority of wine in Alsace is quite dry (although I haven’t managed to try every single bottle produced yet…give me some time…I’m sure I’ll manage it someday ;)
    With mainly Gewurztraminer, Selection de Grains Nobles, and Vendange Tardives being “sweet”.
    Although I have run into a very small number of wine makers who seem to prefer to make their wines somewhat sweeter…
    In fact, when I walk into a winery in Alsace, it’s one of the first things I want to know…
    “Where would you rank your wines in general for sweetness amongst all wines in Alsace?”
    Then I know what I’m in for (most of the time)…at least regarding sweetness (which is something that’s important to me)

  2. Dylan says:

    I admire you taking the experience in stride, and, in fact, letting it fuel your enthusiasm for what makes tasting wine so fun. It’s an endless journey of experiences as new as we allow them to be for ourselves. You take the good with the bad in this experience because in the end you can look back on a path enriched by an open mind. Rather than the calculated path, usually limited to the same few good wines, and a testament to the limits imposed by a comfort zone.

  3. I propose that the Vouvray grading is rather expressive:
    Sec
    Tendre (rather than Tradition which is meaningless)
    Demi-Sec
    Moelleux
    Any Alsatian winemaker could use that.

  4. Well we already publish blend % and alcohol content on wine, so some sort of sweetness score could be done as well I’m sure. Now, I’m sure a lot of producers wouldn’t be happy about it because such a large % of US consumers would simply purchase the wines with the largest sweetness score….which would certainly be bad for the industry as a whole.

  5. They certainly need something although I imagine they would want to implement something uniquely Alsatian…

Leave a Comment »




Advert

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts

27
Aug

A Wine For Your Burger

Today is National Burger Day. I am sure Burger King and the ol’ golden triangle guys are loving it. But something a little more classy andRead More

26
Aug

Video: Tanqueray No. Ten Silver Martini Cocktail

This month Tanqueray No. TEN celebrated at WORLD CLASS, the annual search for the globe’s best bartenders, hosted in the heart of London at 33 FitzroyRead More

24
Aug

Qcumber and Gin

Cucumber – an occasional garnish for a gin and tonic and one that works best with herbaceous-led gins. Looking at the likes of Caorunn and GinRead More

10
Aug

Winery Outbuilding Chateau Mauvesin-Barton

A photo taken in Bordeaux for this weeks Sunday Wine Shot – rather apt as the group who went on the trip are meeting for aRead More

7
Aug

Cocktails at Scarfes

I have to say I do love this bar. The plush, slightly eclectic décor had me as I walked through the door, while the cocktails wereRead More

5
Aug

Charles Metcalfe’s Top Tips On Wines For Summer Pairings

Charles Metcalfe was at the Foodies Festival in Bristol this summer. He hosted food and wine pairing sessions in the marquees set up on site. WeRead More

Top

© 2004-2014 Spittoon.biz All Rights Reserved