Gerard Neumeyer Tulipe Pinot Blanc 2008
Gérard and Gabrielle Neumeyer farm almost 40 acres of vine parcels in and around the village of Molsheim, about 20 minutes west of Strasbourg in the northern part of Alsace (Bas-Rhin). On the hills of Molsheim is the Grand Cru Bruderthal, where the Neumeyers are proud owners of 8.6 acres. This perfectly situated, southeast facing vineyard is planted to all four of the appellation’s noble varieties; Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat.
Gérard tends all of his parcels meticulously by hand using only natural vine and soil treatments. Harvest is of course, also manual. From vineyard to the cellar, gentle handling of the delicate white grapes is of paramount importance. In the cellar, Gérard takes every measure to ensure that both the terroir and individual character of each variety is fully expressed. All of his white wines (he also makes a little Pinot Noir) are aged on their lees in large, older, oak foudres. Gérard has resisted the bigger-is-better trend that is so prevalent in the southern part of the appellation. Instead he makes wines with focused acidity, minerality and finesse, more akin to those of his German neighbors 175 miles to the north. Domaine Neumeyer’s wines are perennially ranked among the appellation’s best by Guide Hachette, Bettane & Desseauve and La Revue du Vin de France.
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, Alsace 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 Alsace wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
Approachable, aromatic and pleasantly plush on the palate, Pinot Blanc is a white grape variety most associated with the Alsace region of France. Although its heritage is Burgundian, today it is rarely found there and instead thrives throughout central Europe, namely Germany and Austria, where it is known as Weissburgunder and Alto Adige where it is called Pinot Bianco. Interestingly, Pinot Blanc was born out of a mutation of the pink-skinned Pinot Gris. Somm Secret—Chardonnay fans looking to try something new would benefit from giving Pinot Blanc a try.