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Marc Tempe Tokay Pinot Gris Rodelsberg 2000

Pinot Gris/Grigio from Alsace, France
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    Marc Tempe

    Domaine Marc Tempe

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    Domaine Marc Tempe, Alsace, France
    A native to Alsace, Marc Tempe spent 11 years with the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, overseeing viticultural and enological aspects of Alsace harvests. His responsibilities included recommending lieux-dits (place names; i.e. single vineyards) for inclusion into the ranks of grand cru, and he became initially acquainted with many of what are now grand cru vineyards. Befriended by Leonard Humbrecht, Tempe quickly understood Domaine Zind-Humbrecht methods: small yields, attention to the vines, harvesting in small bins, gentle pressing of whole berries, long fermentation with wild yeasts, working with the lees, and all with an ecologist’s point of view. He especially learned to distrust residual sugar in wines as a component that masks faults. Except for his late harvest wines, his wines are typically dry.

    With his wife, Anne Marie, Tempe put his extensive knowledge if what constituted great vineyards to another use: in the early 1990s, they began buying small parcels. They weaned these parcels off chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and synthetic fungicides, converting them to biodynamic vineyards.

    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.

    Pinot Gris/Grigio

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    One grape variety with two very distinct personas, Pinot Gris in France is rich, round, and aromatic, while Pinot Grigio in Italy is simple, crisp, and refreshing. In Italy, Pinot Grigio is grown in the mountainous regions of Trentino, Friuli, and Alto Adige in the northeast. In France it reaches its apex in Alsace. Pinots both “Gris” and “Grigio” are produced successfully in Oregon's Willamette Valley as well as parts of California, and are widely planted throughout central and eastern Europe.

    In the Glass

    Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity, so full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear, and almond skin. Alsatian styles are aromatic, richly textured and often relatively high in alcohol. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is much more subdued, light, simple, and easy to drink.

    Perfect Pairings

    Alsace is renowned for its potent food–pork, foie gras, and charcuterie. With its viscous nature, Pinot Gris fits in harmoniously with these heavy hitters. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works better with simple salads, a wide range of seafood, and subtle chicken dishes.

    Sommelier Secret

    Outside of France and Italy, the decision by the producer whether to label as “Gris” or “Grigio” serves as a strong indicator as to the style of wine in the bottle—the former will typically be a richer, more serious rendition while the latter will be bright, fresh, and fun.

    CVI565898_2000 Item# 74553