Holiday Magic With Alsace Grand Cru Riesling Wines
It’s not too early to think about gift wines for the holiday season. At my house, hints have been dropped about Alsace Grand Cru Riesling! These absolutely exquisite wines are perfect to share with family and friends or to give as gifts.
Riesling is my favourite type of white wine; it’s the wine I would want to have with me if stranded on a desert island. Due to its wonderful acidity, it’s extremely versatile with food, and it also makes a lovely wine to sip because of the subtle, delicate flavours. Riesling is made in several styles, ranging from extra-dry to dessert wine.
Many of the world’s best Rieslings come from Alsace, France. During the Middle Ages, wines from Alsace were amongst the most prestigious in Europe. This area follows the Rhine River Valley, where the land is crisscrossed by several major and minor faults. These faults have created the most complex geographical mosaic in France, if not the world. The vineyards of Alsace have, as a result, an extremely varied range of geological formations, and each terroir has its own preferred grape variety. The fine wines of Alsace are known for being fragrant, elegant, intense and well-structured. With ideal conditions of geology and climate, there is a long-standing tradition of respect for nature.
The Legend of the Dragon and the Sun
There are many legends about Alsatian Grand Cru wines. One suggests that during the Middle Ages, a battle took place nearby, between the sun and a local dragon. The dragon lost the battle but survived and took refuge in a cave. To this day, the dragon heats the soil with its fiery breath and thus gives extraordinary ripeness and flavour to the grapes growing there.
I recently had the opportunity to taste two Alsatian Grand Cru Rieslings, and I’m keen to share my impressions with you because these mouthwatering wines are truly unforgettable! They are currently on sale at LCBO Vintages, so this is an ideal time to try them or save them for holiday celebrations.
Gustave Lorentz Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim Vieilles Vines Riesling 2017
AOC Alsace Grand Cru, France
That’s a mouthful, so let me break that down into terms that tell you what it means:
• Gustave Lorenz is the winery, which has been making wines since the 12th century.
• Alsace is an area in northeast France famous for the world’s best Riesling wines.
• Grand Cru refers to the highest level of quality. Altenberg de Bergheim is the vineyard in the region near the medieval town of Bergheim, where this wine is made.
• Vieilles Vines simply means old vines, which in wine talk usually indicates concentrated flavours. Riesling is the grape varietal.
• AOC is the Certified Area of Origin for this wine.
First impression: this wine is fabulous! Bright yellow in colour and highly perfumed, with the nose giving grapefruit, bergamot and ginger, with flinty and white pepper notes. The palate is voluptuous, giving an outstanding silky, satiny mouthfeel with flavours of Amalfi lemon, grapefruit zest, ginger, saline minerality and a touch of honey that evolves on the finish. The wine has a very persistent and aromatic finish, which makes it highly memorable. Pair it with lobster, goat cheese or veal.
This wine won Platinum at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2022 and was rated 97. Before you even taste it, you know it’s going to be great!
Dry Organic 13.5% • VINTAGES #31089 • Sale Price $45.75 – Original Price $57.00
Dirler-Cadé Alsace Grand Cru Kitterlé Riesling 2018
AOC Alsace Grand Cru, France
This is a full-bodied Riesling made from biodynamically grown grapes, grown on the sunny, steep hillside vineyards near the Alsatian village of Guebwiller. The nose shows mainly grapefruit zest, mineral and honey aromatics. The intensely flavoured palate has distinctive candied lemon notes, along with a pronounced saline minerality, zippy acidity and a taut structure. The lingering finish echoes the lemony notes. This is the perfect wine to pair with a plate of oysters.
— 96 pts from James Suckling
Dry Biodynamic 13.9% • VINTAGES #28689 • Sale Price $41.25 Original Price $59.00
These are memorable, gastronomic wines that will be highly appreciated by anyone who tastes them. Run, don’t walk, to the LCBO soon and grab a few bottles of these unforgettably beautiful wines to enjoy this holiday season.
Header image: Vineyard image, courtesy Rangen ©DIDIERJEAN, ConseilVinsAlsace