2010Cave de Ribeauvillé Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, Rosacker, Alsace, France ($50)
As I’m sure you know, my favorite white wine grape in the world (and there are many wine experts, like Hugh Johnson, who agree with me!) is Riesling…especially when the winemaker has created dry Riesling out of his beautiful grapes. Now, most regions of the world have some trouble creating dry, crisp, light, food-loving Riesling. But things get easier when you focus on two places: Germany, and Alsace, France. Of the former place, you’ve read a good deal on this page; I’m building my wine business on the back of dry, aged, super-light and elegant Rieslings from Germany. But just across the border in France (once upon a time it WASN’T across the border!), in Alsace, another style of dry Riesling is made: it’s generally fuller than German dry Riesling, a little more forceful, a little more structured—but no less dry! Great German Rieslings age easily for 30 years, at which point they taste like aged Riesling; great Alsace Rieslings, after 30 years of aging, taste more like great aged white wine!
The most revered of all dry Alsace Rieslings is Clos Ste. Hune, owned by Trimbach, which comes from a part of a small vineyard called Rosacker; the Clos Ste. Hune section has an unmarked wall around it. Many have called this beauty, which sells for $250 a bottle when young, “the best dry white wine in France.” Well la-dee-dah. Two years ago, in France, I discovered a wine made in the same vineyard, but just over “the wall.” There is a co-operative in the nearby town of Ribeauvillé, which was created after the 1885 annexation of Alsace by the Germans (the old French growers wanted to support each other, so they created a French working organization in 1895, Cave de Ribeauvillé, in the midst of German Alsace). It is the oldest co-op in France today—and unquestionably one of the best. AND their wines are organic! AND…their Rosacker (today’s wine), made next to Clos St. Hune…is a ringer for Clos Ste. Hune, at a fraction of the price! It is remarkable…for now, or for the future!
(NOTE: The Cave de Ribeauvillé was just named one of the world’s 100 best wineries by a panel from Wine & Spirits magazine! The ceremony took place last week in San Francisco! And…our import was given 94 points by Wine & Spirits magazine!)
Very light straw in the glass, impeccably clear. Beautiful fruit nose: melon, lime candy, a touch of papaya. However, the minerals are coming on strong: considerable petrol, plus talcum kind of “powdery” nose. A subtle suggestion of lilies. Stunning palate impression: razor-like from start to finish, staggeringly delicate given all the flavor that’s here. The electric acidity lingers through the middle and the finish, giving the wine vibrant life. You can feel the cushioned structure underneath the wine, despite its lightness and lambency. Probably on course for a ten-year rise to greatness. Outstanding food wine: perfect for picnics, all sorts of cold dishes, fish, and chicken in cream sauces, plus the whole world of pork and sausages.