On Wednesday I was a lucky guest at an Alsace Au Menu dinner. The goal of these soirées (sponsored by Vins d’Alsace in a campaign co-financed by the European Union) is to showcase Alsatian wine paired with food from around the world. For the last event of the year, Alsace Au Menu returned to its roots: Alsace. At Le Hangar, reinvented Alsatian cuisine was paired with a variety of wines made of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer.
The evening started off in a festive manner with a tasty Crémant d’Alsace, Calixte Brut Rosé. Then it was time to take our seats and get serious, for we had many, many wines to try throughout the impressive five-course meal. Below, some brief notes on the wines.
Riesling Les Cigognes 2009 ($14.95 SAQ)
A fresh, simple Riesling. Very mineral on nose and fairly light. On the palate, green apple and mineral make a refreshing start to the meal.
Riesling Léon Beyer Réserve 2009 ($17.95 SAQ)
A bit of that lovely petrol that Riesling is well-known for on the nose, as well as a mineral side. The palate is richer and creamier than the previous wine, with peach, petrol, and mineral notes. The fruit is fresh and there’s a nice acidity. As Vincent of Bu du Quebec pointed out, this wine had the best quality/price ratio of the three Rieslings.
Riesling Rosacker Hunawihr, Grand Cru 2008 ($25.60 SAQ)
Getting a bit more serious, this Grand Cru Riesling was more developed and rich, with creamy and mineral notes, green apple, lime, something a little floral, and a crackling acidity. A bit of that petrol again. Very clean and fresh, with a long finish. My favourite Riesling of the evening.
Pinot Blanc Arthur Metz 2010 ($15.00 SAQ)
Mineral, floral, sweet spices, and honey. Well rounded, and a decent quality/price ratio.
Pinot Blanc Pfaffenheim Grande Réserve 2009 ($15.80 SAQ)
I have a picture of myself with out-swept arms taken in front of the Pfaffenheim winery a few years ago, and this wine brought back fond memories of that afternoon. Richer than the previous wines, this had sweet peach notes balanced by a mineral aspect of flint and stone. Nice freshness and round in the mouth.
Pinot Gris Domaine Binner 2009 ($29.90 private import)
Aurélia Filion presented this wine as her “coup de coeur.” And I like her taste: it was lovely. Domaine Binner grows their grapes organically and aims to make natural wine. Notes of apple and lemon with some, as Aurélia put it, zing! I would add zip, too, as it was a very fresh and energizing wine. A bit sweet but well-balanced by great acidity. Some creaminess on the finish. I really liked this one; unfortunately, it’s not available at the SAQ, but it’s worth seeking out.
Pinot Gris Willm Réserve 2010 ($14.80 SAQ)
More mineral notes, this time slate in particular, as well as floral, sweet spices, and peach. Again, a bit of zip! Nice acidity balanced by creamy notes. Round in the mouth with a nice length.
Pinot Gris Lucien Albrecht 2009 ($18.30 SAQ)
Very fresh and perfumed. Tastes of violets and lavender with sweet spices and mineral notes as well.
Gewürztraminer Arthur Metz 2010 ($18.80 SAQ)
It was at this point in the evening that I realized my iPhone is capable of auto-completing the word Gewürztraminer, umlaut and all. (It knows me well.) This was a classic Gewürztraminer, with pleasing flavours of flowers, lychees, and sweet spices. Nicely balanced, and not as cloying as some Gewürztraminer can be.
Gewürztraminer Vendages Tardives Léon Beyer 2000 ($48.75 SAQ)
It was a treat to finish the evening with an 11 year-old late harvest wine, though I can’t help but wonder whether the exclamation marks in my tasting note have anything to do with the amount of wine we’d tasted at this point. Late harvest means that the grapes were picked very late, once they’ve achieved maximum ripeness. The resulting wine is rich and sweet yet with a pleasing tartness on the finish. There were some light oxidative notes of the type I enjoy. A really interesting wine with good balance. The price makes it a special occasion wine, perhaps a nice splurge to finish off a dinner during the upcoming holiday season.
And now it’s time to detox for a few days after such a decadent evening. See you next week!