Wed 11 Jun 2014

Alsace 2012: Assessing The Wines


Society buyers spend a lot of time travelling. There is no substitute for visiting a vineyard – speaking with a producer, tasting, seeing the vines and soil and aspect – to get a true feel for the quality of a wine. That notwithstanding, Society buyers are also very thorough. A wine that impresses in the vigneron’s cellar may not do so quite as much in the cold light of day, and so invariably samples will be collected for a second appraisal in The Society’s tasting room here in Stevenage.

From Alsace...

From Alsace… Stevenage!

…to Stevenage!

It was such a tasting that I was fortunate enough to take part in recently with Marcel Orford-Williams, freshly returned from a whistle-stop tour of Alsace, and newly appointed Society buyer Sarah Knowles.

The Society has a superb, award-winning range of Alsace wines, and this is largely a result of Marcel’s skill and eye for quality. It is also testament to the rigorous selection process through which each wine is put before listing.

And so, over the course of three days, I joined Marcel in the tasting room along with around 150 Alsace wines, mostly from the 2012 vintage.

Our first day covered the workhorses of Alsace: a selection of blends, along with some single-varietal sylvaner, pinot blanc and chesselas. Our second day took in riesling, from bone dry to a glorious Sélection de Grains Noble. We then tasted through a range of pinot gris – rounded, generous and, for the most part, reassuringly dry. Gewurztraminer brought the proceedings to a close on the third day, an aromatic rear guard action covering the full spectrum of sweetness.

Some of the gewurztraminers

Some of the gewurztraminers

Aside from the sheer quality of the vintage, the one thing that struck me the most about these tastings was the different ‘house styles’ that one begins to appreciate when tasting through such a varied offering: Beyer’s full-flavoured wines of complexity that cry out for food; Josmeyer’s charming, elegant wines that feel as though they just want to be drunk; Rolly Gassman’s highly aromatic wines with a characteristic richness that comes from picking very ripe; Weinbach’s purity and easy charm; Trimbach, the embodiment of class and precision in every sniff and sip…

…and these are just a few of the producers featured in our current Alsace 2012 offer.

In short, Alsace is a region of contrasts and has a wine to suit almost every palate, pocket and occasion. I wholeheartedly recommend that members explore the fruits of this excellent vintage.

Joe Mandrell
Trainee Buyer

The Society’s 2012 Alsace offer is available now.

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