Well folks, I'm back to doing what I do best: tasting wines and getting tipsy.
Right in town is a tasting/sales room for Hugel & Fils wines, which apparently has been an Alsace winegrowing family since 1639. Their literature says in their cellar they have an oak cask which dates back to 1715.
I walked in during a lull between tour buses and I was the only one in the shop. As soon as the man who worked there and I got to talking about my love of botrytis wines, it was all over. I was walking out of there drunk or not at all. He brought out Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, of many different vintages for me to try.
The wines in question are called Selections de Grains Noble (SGN), which is the Alsace term for sweet wines made from late-harvest grapes affected by my favorite Noble Rot. Again, according to their literature, it takes a picker three hours to harvest enough of these special grapes to make one bottle of wine.
I couldn't help myself, and I bought a small bottle of their 2005 Gewurztraminer SGN. Because of its youth, the sugar hasn't completely integrated into the wine yet, so it has a more syrupy consistency than some of the older vintages I tasted, but I didn't find it sickly. The syrupy quality is nicely balanced by a bright freshness and acidity, flavors of dried and fresh apricots and peaches as well as honeysuckle and vanilla.
Even in this sweet wine, the character of the Gewurztraminer really comes out in a slight spicy quality which really adds a depth to the wine. The clay soil in which they grow this particular varietal also added a nice minerality to the wine, and hence another layer of complexity.
These wines can age for years, but with me and Steve around, it doesn't stand a chance!
Tomorrow, provided Steve is up to driving, we head to the Mosel region of Germany for a few days. Not sure of the internet situation there, but hopefully I will have another post for you in a day or two.