More Great Wines from Alsace for the Holidays

December 30 2008 - 10:54 PM

I've written a lot about Alsatian wine, mainly because I have a strong personal bias toward it.  Its food-friendly nature, as well as the region's ability to produce extraordinary white wines keeps me coming back.   The drawback is it's tough to find great wines under $20 (there are some, which I've written about before).   At $30, the quality is usually amazing, and while I know plenty of folks who will only spend less than $20 a bottle, they may have to bypass much of Alsace.     

To recap, Alsace is near the German border and many of its wineries are operated by those with French first names and German last names.  Wines grown tend to be similar to those across the Rhine river into Germany (Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers).  If you've heard of or been to the French city of Strasbourg, then you have a rough idea of where it is located.

Two great wines I sampled during the holidays worthy of review.  First is the 2002 Josmeyer Hengst Grand Cru Riesling.   This was a steely, very dry  (even , with lime flavors and went for around $30 at House of Glunz in Old Town.

Next was the 2006 Domaine Zind Humbrect Gewurtztraminer.  It has flavors of pears, honey, and apricot, and paired beautifully with a Thai dinner.   Good Alsatian Gewurtztraminers really hit the spot with their golden color and ability to pear beautifully with Asian and other hard-to-pair foods.  It retails for, I believe, a bit under $30, at Kafka on Halsted in East Lakeview (no it's not one of the under $15 wines).  The word Gewurtz, in German, means "spice", which  may explain its ability to pair with spicy foods.

In sum, Alsatians seem to be the great crowd pleasers.  They pair wonderfully with just about anything (though I tend to follow the old rules and pair reds with red meats and heavy sauces), and generally are much drier to please people who don't drink whites (especially those with sweet white hangups).

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