Domaine Weinbach Sylvaner Reserve 2002
At the foot of the majestic Schlossberg hill in Alsace stands one of the finest estates in all of France. Weinbach produces richly concentrated, fragrant dry Rieslings, for which the Grand Cru Schlossberg vineyard is particularly well-situated. Ranging from the delicate Reserve Personelle, to the intense, dry Cuvée Théo, the elegant, very dry, very fine Schlossberg, the rich and fruity Cuvée Ste. Catherine, to the majestic and full-bodied Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste. Catherine, each Riesling is distinctive. The rich, rose-scented, spicy Gewurztraminers from Domaine Weinbach are among the finest in the world. Ranging in style from the slightly sweet, rich and powerful Altenbourg Cuvée Laurence, to the stunning, full-bodied, off-dry Grand Cru Furstentum Cuvée Laurence, these are rich yet elegant wines with great aromatic complexity.
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land running north to south on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, it is one of the driest regions of France but enjoys a long and cool growing season. Autumn humidity facilitates the development of “noble rot” for the production of late-picked sweet wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties, the only ones permitted within Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus vineyards, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty. In its youth, Alsatian Riesling is dry, fresh and floral, but develops complex mineral and flint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat, vinified dry, tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal.
Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted in Alsace and mainly used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Most Alsatian wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
There are hundreds of white grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles.