My wife and I love the wines of Alsace, particularly the whites – they’re so approachable and food-friendly and, thinking back, I really can’t remember opening a bad bottle. They also benefit from some of the most straight-forward labelling of any French wines – no complicated Appellations Contrôlées (just Alsace or, for the best single vineyard wines, Alsace Grand Cru) – and then generally just the grape variety (unusual in itself in France) and the name of the producer.
Among the latter, Hugel and Trimbach are the biggest and best known but here, size and popularity are no disadvantages – wines from both companies are always reliable and good quality. But it’s not just these names to look out for, there are many other very good, even excellent producers in the region.
Lesser known but a particular favourite of ours since visiting a few years back is the family-run Josmeyer with sisters Celine and Isabelle as Managing Director and winemaker respectively. Run on organic lines for many years and biodynamically since 2000, Josmeyer’s wines always have a particular intensity and focus, a feature based, no doubt, on the fact that their yields are among the lowest in the region.
I thought I knew most of their wines so, when I saw a different one in a local restaurant recently, I had to give it a try. Fleur de Lotus – Lotus Flower (around £20 retail from a number of on-line suppliers, much more in the restaurant, of course) is crisp and fresh with an exotically perfumed nose and a vibrant, just off-dry palate. No specific grape names were mentioned on the label just a ‘blend of local varieties’ but the nose and palate screamed gewürztraminer to me and possibly muscat, too. Further research on line proved contradictory with one site suggesting a gewürztraminer and pinot gris blend, while another listed auxerrois, gewürztraminer and riesling. Josmeyer’s own site simply says an ‘assemblage’ (a blend), so no further forward.
But, whatever’s in it, it confirms my high opinion of the wines of Alsace generally and of Josmeyer especially. Do try them if you get the chance.