Alsace Tasting, the first date outside of Italy for WinesCritic.com tells the story of a truly versatile region, modern and informal

2022 has been a year of new beginnings, great satisfaction and what better way to end the year than with tastings abroad?

Alsace is a region in the North-East of France on the plains of the River Rhine. Historically a region which has been contested over between France and Germany and which admirably combines the two cultures.

Amongst the most famous cities are Strasbourg – the capital of the region – and Colmar, a pearl in the European panorama. Established activities certainly include tourism and the production of great red and white wines.

The production of wine in Alsace is decidedly versatile, moving from the sparkling wines such as Cremant d’Alsace – really modern and captivating, perfect for informal events with friends – to the production of the whites of great value and ageing capabilities such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer. Over the last few years we are also seeing a real revolution in the qualitative growth of the great Pinot Noirs, capable of genuinely expressing the identity of the territory with great craftsmanship.

The wines produced in Alsace are truly singular; they have elevated total acidity levels, often well rounded supported by the volume of alcohol and enjoyable sugary residuals which contribute to making the wines three-dimensional.

Not all the wines are sweet but we can certainly say that, in the French and world-wide wine-growing panorama they do occupy a big slice of the production.

Amongst the wines tasted in this first round of tastings (we hope to take a more in-depth look at the area as soon as possible with personal visits to the wineries and cellars) some Riesling Gran Cru definitely impressed us; Altenberg de Bergheim, Altenberg de Bergbieten Cuvèe Henriette and Furstentum, respectively produced by Gustave Lorentz, Frédéric Mochel and Domaine de Paul Blanck.

Altenberg de Bergheim produced by Gustave Lorentz is a three-dimensional wine with great personality. It gives a lot of freshness and Mediterranean character in the notes of medicinal herbs, peppermint and eucalyptus.

Incredible work on behalf of the team who create a solid Riesling of great drinkability, decidedly linear and flowing in the tasting right from the start but we are sure it will continue to grow in the future. It is produced from a vineyard which has rich clay and limestone properties. Altenberg has been the pride and joy of the wine-makers in the Bergheim area from as far back as 1200. The vineyard which has an average age of between 30 to 50 years often shows decisive character, opulent and great for pairing with food.

Some of the wines tasted in the beginning of December.

In 2018, in the first seven months of the year, the rainfall was equivalent to a typical year’s worth of rain in the area. The summer was then one of the hottest on record since the beginning of the 1900’s.

Also the Furstentum di Domaine de Paul Blanck shows a full character yet also decidedly noble and graceful with great florality which opens the road to a savoury, centred finale, decidedly brilliant.

However, in 2021, a concentrated, sunny year saw the emergence of the Gran Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten Cuvèe Henriette made by Frédéric Mochel.

The best Gewurztraminer was produced by Domaine Léon Boesch in the 2020 vintage. Zinnkoepfle is a spicy wine which gives itself slowly in the glass.

Qualitatively equal is the Gewurztraminer from Frédéric Mochel, Altenberg de Bergbieten, produced in the splendid 2016 vintage and it gives itself to the full even today.

Grossi Laue from the Hugel Family is a true confirmation, one of the best known wines in the area carries ten years on its shoulders like the best ageing wines in the world are able to do.

The prize for best wine in this tasting goes to Kanzlerberg Sélection de Grains Nobles, produced by Gustave Lorentz. This Pinot Gris is produced from a selection of ‘’Grain Nobles’’ from the smallest vineyard in Alsace; Kanzlerberg (3.23 hectares).

The 2011 vintage held many surprises; during the winter the temperatures dropped to impressive levels (minus 20 degrees Celsius on the 26th of December 2010), a lot of rain in the summer but good, stable conditions during the harvest.

Very heavy, complex soil which shows elevated levels of clay and limestone but also rare with  dark grey and black chalky gypsum in its composition. The South, South West exposure helps to enrich the wine with radiance, the hill stands at 250m and this helps to contribute freshness, benefitting from the movement of air in the vineyard.

After the harvest the grapes are delicately pressed and fermented in 500 litre French oak containers. The final refinement takes place on fine lees for eight months before bottling, it then rests in the cellar for four years before being released on the market.

Our first dive into wines outside of Italy, the great wines of Alsace truly merit a lot of attention.


Red Wines

Producer Denomination Wine Vintage Score Type
Domaine Léon Boesch Riesling Alsace Luss 2020 92 Red

Compact with solid sensory maturity alternating notes of yellow peaches, mango and turmeric. Full bodied, polyphenolic and voluminous with a deep, harmonic closure. Drink now or hold.

Gustave Lorentz Pinot Noir Alsace Evidence 2021 89 Red

Domaine Léon Boesch Pinot Noir Alsace Luss 2020 89 Red

White Wines

Producer Denomination Wine Vintage Score Type
Gustave Lorentz Riesling Alsace Gran Cru Altenberg de Bergheim 2018 94 White

A splendid sensory setting alternating notes of marjoram with the fresh, balsamic notes of peppermint, eucalyptus, white flowers, sage and rosemary. Full bodied, an harmonic, balanced structure and a truly elegant finale, subtle yet decidedly noble. Better from 2024.

Frédéric Mochel Riesling Alsace Gran Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten Cuvèe Henriette 2021 93 White

Solid and compressed in the sensory profile alternating notes of boxwood, rosemary, wild thyme and marjoram. Medium to full bodied, a very fine structure of optimum precision of execution and a savoury, juicy finale. Better from 2024.

Domaine de Paul Blanck Riesling Alsace Gran Cru Furstentum 2018 93 White

Solid and compact in the sensory profile alternating notes of passionfruit, magnolia flowers, gardenias and acacia. A lot of lemon peel describes the secondary scene. Full bodied, extremely elegant in the tasting with a decidedly savoury, engaging closure. Beautiful right away but it will evolve in the best possible manner.

Famille Hugel Riesling Alsace Grossi Laüe 2012 93 White

Elegant with remarkable sensory floral beauty alternating notes of magnolias, wisteria flowers, almonds, hawthorn and gardenias. Full bodied, savoury and centres in every sip, a solid closure with a very enjoyable bitter vibration. Drink now or hold.

Frédéric Mochel Gewurztraminer Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten 2016 93 White

Solid and vibrant in the sensory profile showing notes of acacia, rosemary, jasmine, hawthorn and linden. Delicate and persuasive in the tasting showing pleasantness and kindness. Splendid from the start but it will continue to grow over time.

Domaine Léon Boesch Gewurztraminer Alsace Grand Cru Zinnkoepfle 2020 93 White

Centred and decidedly noble in the primary profile showing notes of wet white flowers, coriander, white pepper, rose petals, jasmine and grapefruit. Medium bodied, a decidedly smooth, elegant, captivating structure and a bright, luminous finale, decidedly graceful. Drink now or hold.

Frédéric Mochel Riesling Alsace Vendanges Tardives 2018 93 White

Subtle with a hydrocarbonic character showing notes of boxwood, bay leaves, marjoram, wet flowers and coriander. Nutmeg dominates the secondary scene. Full bodied, tasty in the sip showing fullness and volume united with a very pleasurable linear, modern freshness. Drink now.

Gustave Lorentz Riesling Alsace Evidence Vieilles Vignes 2021 92 White

Lively and progressive in the primary scene alternating notes of helichrysum flowers with hints of jasmine, hawthorn and acacia. Medium to full bodied, a balanced, harmonic structure of notable width and a truly tasty, precise finale. Drink now.

Domaine Léon Boesch Riesling Alsace Breitenberg 2020 92 White

Expressive and decidedly sweet in the sensory profile alternating notes of magnolia flowers, hawthorn, gardenias and jasmine. A lot of grapefruit and mandarin describe the secondary scene. Medium bodied, crunchy and decisive in the vibrant sip with a savoury, authentic closure. Better from 2024.

Domaine de Paul Blanck Riesling Alsace Rosenbourg 2017 92 White

Tense and vibrant in the sensory profile alternating notes of lemon blossom, lime peel, bergamot, green mandarins, green pepper and chopped sweet almonds. Medium to full bodied, a harmonic structure which is subtle in the sip and a tasty, progressive finale. Drink now or hold.

Frédéric Mochel Riesling Alsace Gran Cru Altenberg de Bergbieten Cuvèe Henriette 2017 92 White

Dense and structured in the primary profile alternating notes of yellow peaches, mango, chopped pineapple, papaya and Cantaloupe melon. Decidedly exotic on the nose showing a full body, polyphenolic structure and a warm, enveloping finale. Drink now.

Gustave Lorentz Gewurztraminer Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim 2015 92 White

Intriguing and decidedly elegant in the primary profile alternating notes of boxwood, cut grass, coriander, marjoram and parsley. A little dried apricot describes the secondary scene blending with jasmine and orange blossom. Full bodied, a soft, enveloping structure and a finale with good density and warmth in the closure. Drink now.

Famille Hugel Gewurztraminer Alsace Estate 2019 92 White

Graceful and performing showing notes of acacia, jasmine, linden, coriander, white pepper and cut grass. A lot of mandarin peel dominates the secondary scene. Medium to full bodied, a decidedly creamy, polyphenolic structure and an enjoyable, well distended finale. Drink now.

Famille Hugel Gewurztraminer Alsace Vendage Tardive 2010 92 White

Very mature and dense in the glass showing notes of lemon, cooked apple, Williams pear, canned peaches and sweet caramel. Full bodied, a tasty structure, perfectly linear and a radiant finish. Drink now.

Domaine Armand Gilg Riesling Alsace Vieilles Vignes 2021 91 White

Fresh and savoury in the sensory profile alternating notes of olives, capers, white flowers and cut grass. Medium bodied, a balanced, harmonic structure and a tasty finish of medium progression. Cutting and crunchy enough to be notable. Drink now.

Frédéric Mochel Riesling Alsace 2020 91 White

Luminous with good sensory precision alternating notes of lemon peel, linden, sweet pears and creme brulée. Medium bodied, a simple structure but very smooth with a finale of medium length. Drink now.

Famille Hugel Riesling Alsace Estate 2018 91 White

Classic with good luminosity alternating notes of apples, acacia flowers, hawthorn and elderflower. White chocolate describes the secondary scene. Medium bodied, a fresh, tasty structure and a finale with a pleasantly bitter closure. Drink now.

Domaine Léon Boesch Pinot Gris Alsace Clos Zwingel 2020 91 White

A lot of white and yellow flowers blend with hints of bread crust, linden, jasmine and fenugreek. Seductive in the secondary profile which is solid and compact. Medium bodied, a tense, vibrant structure, decidedly savoury in the tasting and a juicy, cutting finish. Better from 2024.

Sophie Schaal Pinot Noir Alsace 2021 91 White

Intriguing and decidedly luminous on the nose alternating notes of wild strawberries, pressed blueberries, grapefruit, pomegranate and very delicate white flowers. Medium bodied, rounded tannins and a pleasantly drinkable finish. Drink now.

Sophie Schaal Riesling Alsace 2021 90 White

Dense and creamy in the glass it moves around showing remarkable material offering notes of apricots, white peaches, pink grapefruit and boxwood. Mediterranean hints decribe the secindary scene. Full bodied, a balanced, harmonic structure and a finale with a subtly bitter closure. Drink now.

Domaine de Paul Blanck Riesling Alsace Rosenbourg 2017 90 White

Classic and decidedly fulfilling in the sensory profile alternating notes of mixed white flowers, cut grass and split vine. Medium bodied, a lively structure and a bright, pleasant finish. Drink now.

Domaine Léon Boesch Riesling Alsace Grandes Lignes 2020 90 White

Fresh and vibrant on the nose showing herbaceous notes of mixed white flowers. Medium bodied, a simple structure and a finale of medium length. Better from 2024.

Domaine de Paul Blanck Alsace Burn Out G 2021 90 White

Complex and unique in the sensory profile alternating notes of white peaches, apricots, rose petals, lemon peel, pink grapefruit and pomegranate. Medium bodied, a dynamic structure and a finale of medium length. Drink now.

Domaine Armand Gilg Pinot Gris Alsace Grand Cru Zotzenberg 2019 90 White

Solid and centred showing notes of mixed white flowers, coriander, cut grass, ginger and white pepper. Medium to full bodied, sweet in the sip with a warm, enveloping closure. Drink now.

Domaine de Paul Blanck Riesling Alsace Patergarten 2018 89 White

Domaine Armand Gilg Sylvaner Alsace Grand Cru Zotzenberg 2020 89 White

Famille Hugel Pinot Blanc Alsace Classic 2020 89 White

Famille Hugel Alsace Gentil Hugel 2021 89 White

Sparkling Wines

Producer Denomination Wine Vintage Score Type
Frédéric Mochel Cremant d’Alsace Brut 0 91 Sparkling

Radiant and sunny alternating notes of apples, pears, apricots, mixed white flowers and mandarin juice. Medium to full bodied, bubbles of optimum craftsmanship and a tasty finish with good gustatory balance. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Drink now.

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace Zéro Dosage 2019 89 Sparkling

Sweet Wines

Producer Denomination Wine Vintage Score Type
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Alsace Grand Cru Kanzlerberg Sélection de Grains Nobles 2011 95 Sweet

Solid and decidedly captivating on the nose showing notes of withered flowers, leather, sweet caramel, roasted coffee, barley, chinotto, dark mixed spices and burnt mandarin peel. Medium to full bodied, salty in the sip showing length, composure and a lot of elegance. Beautiful from the start but it could grow and improve even more over time. Drink now.

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