Region Report: Alsace New And Recent Releases – Part 1

In this article Ian tells why he loves wines from Alsace and introduces recent vintages of the region, as well as some of the wines he tasted.
by Ian D’Agata

Does Alsace make the greatest white wines in the world? Yes.

“Why is Ian saying that?” I hear you thinking, “… has the guy been enjoying way too much of that Alsatian stuff? Well, yessssss I have. But I guarantee you that I am none the worse for wear. Anything but.

Trust me: when I say Alsace offers the best white wines in the world, it is just so (with caveats). One caveat is that, for the most part, Alsace cooperatives make mostly dilute, uninspiring wines from way too high yields, wines that despite often boasting a grand cru’s name on the label you and nobody else have much of a reason to buy (of course, as always in life, there are exceptions, and it’s only fair to recognize that, but this problem is the one single thing that Alsace just absolutely has to fix if it want to: a) not lose further market shares and b) gain back the reputation it rightly deserves as the adress of the world’s potentially best white wines. Because, and mark my words,  those wines that are made carefully from low yields and terroirs of real quality are simply the best white wines available from anywhere.


Because no other region in the world offers so many great wines from so many different wine grapes, that’s why. Burgundy makes some unbelievably great, truly unforgettable white wines (when they’re not premoxed, of course) but you really only have Chardonnay and a little (very littel though very great) Aligoté to play with. The Mosel, the Rheingau or the Pfalz? Sure, wonderful stuff, but it’s really only Riesling that is the life of the party there. Someone say Franken? Yes, fantastic Sylvaner wines, but they’re the one and only world-class show in town, or close to it. Central Otago or Marlborough? Napa? Sonoma? Oregon? Alto Adige? Niagara in Ontario, Canada? Well outside of Niagara, the majority of all those places are mostly one hit white wine areas, and even Niagara only excels with two or three white wine grapes and styles at most. You can make a case for Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), perhaps: Picolit, Malvasia Istriana, Ribolla Gialla….but when all is said and done, the sheer volume of great white wines from Alsace, in many different styles and sweetness levels,  is mindbogglingly large and nothing quite like those from anywhere else in the world.

You want outstanding, world’s best level Riesling wines? Check, Alsace has those in spades. Love Pinot grigio but wnat more complexity and size? Check, Alsace is the place for you (and also the only one where you’ll find not just outstanding classically dry and fresh versions, but also more world-class sweet Pinot Grigio/Gris wines than you know what to do with). Pine for Gewurztraminertraminer and its spicy potions? Ditto, goooooo dive into  Alsace and never look back. Muscat fiend? Ok, now you’re making it easy for me: just take your pick, Alsace grows three different Muscats (one is a colour mutation biotype of another) and all three concur to make liquid beauties. Sylvaner? That’s anotehr piece of cake, for Alsace’s old vine Sylvaner wines made from specific grand crus such as the Zoztenberg (and not just the Zoztenberg) rank with the world’s greatest wines, all colours counted and accounted for. Auxerrois is your thing? Well, besides the fact that outside of Luxembourg and very, very, very few other places Alsace is the only spot you are ever going to find any wines made with the variety, it just so happens that this French region’s efforts are the best of the lot (just try one from the Hengst grand cru and you’ll immediately see what I mean). You like wines made with Pinot Blanc? Alsace has got that too (just be careful they really are made with Pinot Blanc and not Auxerrois, but that’s a story for another time); the good ones are wines of memorable crystalline purity. Wait: I hear you saying that you like bubbles. Well, there is no wine that has improved further in the last ten years than Alsace Crémant, a bubbly wine made by secondary fermentation in the bottle in the manner of Champagne that is yeasty, complex and long. Have a sweet tooth? You’re in luck again: no other region or country in the world makes as many different versions of high quality sweet wines as does Alsace, beginning with its Vendanges Tardives and finishing with the (usually, not always) noble rot-affected Sélection de Grains Nobles (by way of the ultra-rare Vin de Paille and Vin de Glace, both of which  Alsace has made in very tiny amounts). But wait! I see you raising eyebrows and pinkys while holding your daily tipple and saying: “…Vareital schmarietal, I want terroir, man, terroir is where it’s at!”. Glad you think so, I happen to as well. And speaking of happenings, Alsace just happens to be the most geologically complex wine region in the world. You want terroir? Where do I even begin!?!?!? The volcanic soils of the Rangen, the granite of the Brand, the different granite of the Schlossberg and the still dfferent one of the Wineck-Schlossberg (those similar-sounding places are two different grand crus, by the way), the marly-clays of the Schoenenbourg, the limestone of the Steinklotz (those names all refer to grand crus of Alsace) and so much more awaits so that you’ll oftentimes come away from an Alsace wine tasting thinking that you had just met something like sixteen different permutations of just about every grape variety grown in the region depending on where they are grown. And wait, there’s more. Given the society we live in and human nature, many out there just cannot do without orange and natural wines because hey, it’s oh so cool to like them today (never mind that many times what you have in your glass smells worse than a horse’s armpit, but hey, it’s a free world and I’m all for diversity) so yes, guess what? Alsace offers those kinds of wines in spades too. And in fact, it’s quite easy for Alsace to go the bio/biodynamic/natural/let’s not do anything route and see what happens, given that it is one of the driest wine regions anywhere (certainly the driest in France, witness the annual precipitation rates of the pretty city of Colmar) and disease pressure is exceedingly low in most years (though climate change is wreaking havoc here like it is everywhere else and times are a’changin’). Have I succeeded in getting across the message that the range of Alsace white wines is just unbelievebly long and great?

Oh, and by the way: did I mention  that Alsace red wines have improved to simply amazing levels of late? Yessireeeee Bob, and Hank, and Jennifer and Liz and…. fact is, Alsace Pinot Noir that only about twenty years ago was mostly good for killing weeds (not that I ever tried, but given how colourless, lean, thin, angular and fruit-challenged tose wines were, it sort of seems to me that they might have done just swell in that department) are now just as good as many Burgundy Villages and even some Premier Crus wines. The best of Alsatian Pinot Noirs offer deep colours, smoky notes of red and blue fruits, balsamic and dried herbs, flowers and minerals that will have Burgundyphiles doing double takes at every sip. In fact, the quality of Alsace Pinot Noir wines has reached levels where the region has moved to identify grand cru sites for this variety as well (so far “grand cru” in Alsace can grace the labels of wines only made with one of the two Muscats, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling – and Sylvaner in one cru only, the Zoztenberg-  which means that if you make Auxerrois and Sylvaner wines (from anywhere else but the Zoztenberg) even though said wines are thousands of times better than many non-descript Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer wines made in the wrong terroirs just so people can still cash in on the grand cru’s name, you still can’t label them with the grand cru site the grapes grew in… Don’t get me started). Anyways, just so you know, the next big thing coming out of Alsace will be its Syrah wines, as the region’s relatively hot and dry weather, not to mention its abundance of granite soils, means Syrah has found a new high quality home, a neighbourhood you might want to go shopping in. Of course, one can always hope that Alsatian lawmakers will finally see the light of day and allow the likes of Sylvaner and Auxerrois one day soon the right to be labeled with a grand cru name as well.

A word about recent Alsace vintages

Let’s enjoy things while we can, because the 2021 growing season will long be remembered in Alsace as one of the worst of all times. Mercifully, we can be very happy with the range of different wines that have emerged from the different weather patterns from 2017 to 2020.

The 2020 vintage in Alsace will go down in memory as a hot and dry one, but mercifully with cool enough nights so that the aromas and acidities of the finished wines were preserved, to a degree. Right off the bat, the growing season began with an unusually warm spring, leading to an early budburst and early flowering as well (which roughly took place in the very beginning of June). A very dry and hot summer ensued, and an early autumn, saved by rainfall providing much-needed refreshment at the very end of August. However harvest occurred in very hot weather generally leading many estates to harvest at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Clearly, in such conditions there was little or no disease pressure, and the only real difficulty was posed by young vines on well-draining soils (most quality estates proceeded to eliminate those grapes from their wines, a wise move).

The 2019 vintage is in my view a great one, with a bevy of excellent wines available, but it proved tougher in places for Gewurztraminer and Riesling, especially at those estates where they like to harvest late. Francis Burn of the Clos St.Imer/Ernest Burn estate told me “… Over here in the Guebwiller area, I had never seen anything like it in 40 years”. The main problem was that it rained for more than three weeks in October and November, and so he and many other estates produced little if any grand cru Gewurztraminer and Riesling wines, and making sweet late harvest wines was also an issue. However, the rain did not fall everywhere in such violent and continuative fashion: For example, growers in Riquewihr did not see much rain at all, and even closer to Guebwiller itself it really didn’t rain that much. For example, over in Westhalten, a fifteen minute car ride from Guebwiller, if that, Agathe Bursin finished picking grapes by mid-October, thereby escaping the copious rainfall that in her area fell mostly soon thereafter. The 2018 winter was mild and saw little rainshower activity. Just like in 2020, budbreak was almost too early (taking place from the the end of March to early April). Thankfully, cool weather in April delayed growth; but May was also mostly grey and cold, with flowering taking place in cold weather (meaning that varieties such as Riesling, Muscat Ottonel and Gewurztraminer all suffered some millerandage, or irregular fruit set due to poor fertilization of the flowers generally due -but not only to- to poor weather) but completed its course in mid-June’s warmer weather. A little welcome rain fell in the middle of June while temperatures began to soar, with a very warm and dry July and increasingly hot in early August. But happily, the weather was not too extreme in August 2019, and rain fell when it was needed and even better, just in the right amounts. For the most part, Alsace’s 2019 wines offer concentration, structure, and elegance and will likely age well. The 2018 vintage’s growing season followed on the heels of a relatively mild but humid winter. A cold March and April delayed budbreak until the third week of April, but a record-breaking heatwave end of April really accelerated vine growth, further spurred by rain in May. Flowering began after mid-May in earlier ripening vineyard sites but proceeded quickly and was usually over by the end of May, a good thing given that storms hit hard at the end of the month. May to mid-June was complicated for wineries because there were just too many grapes on the vines, a result of the good growing conditions up until then. Furthermore, warm and humid weather brought out the peronospora (downy mildew), which led to as much as a 20% grape loss in some places. The rest of the growing season was hot and dry, right until the end of harvest. And while these dry conditions helped remove the dried out berries, it also meant problems with sunburn where people had deleafed too enthusiastically and very severe water stress problems in sandier and well-draining sites. Overall, 2018 was characterized by very generous yields and so most wines share a broad personality. Muscat is perhaps the variety that performed best in 2018, but Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner fared very well too, while Riesling had a tougher time (for one thing, Pinot Gris is more resistant to sunburn than Riesling). There was very little humidity in 2018 and so noble rot was practically absent. The overall soft acidities of most wines however were not a problem as long as the wines had good balance: for example, I found Gewurztraminer to have performed surprisingly well at most quality estates in 2018. Certainly, the 2018 wines are charming from the get-go, and will be readier to drink sooner than those of 2017, for example. If there is one defining feature of the 2017 Alsace wines is that they are tannic. In the 2017 vintage, budbreak occurred between late March and early April, but a cold front between April 21 and 22 saw temperatures fall as low as -3 degrees Celsius, and clearly this situation led to frost episodes that proved disastrous at more than one estate. There is everywhere in the world now an increased risk of spring frost, most likely the consequence of global warming: at the same time, this crazy weather is making it extremely hard to develop high quality noble rot too, and Alsace’s production of amazingly deep and complex sweet late harvest wines is also suffering. That these may sellw ell or not currently is moot: these are some of the world’s greatest wines and it is absolutely tragic that the carelessness, the iognorance of human beings, is changing our climate to the point that wiens such as these are disappearing (and clearly, there is a lot more than just sweet wines that are disappearing all over the world). Clearly, Gewurztraminer had the toughest time: normally a variety that loves heat, it is the Alsatian wine grape that endured the biggest crop losses in 2017. Pinot Gris fared well, and at more than one estate I found it to be the most successful wine of the vintage.

The wines in this report were tasted during three distinct one week long visits each to Alsace during August and early September 2020: I then tasted previous and new wines again in April, May, July and September 2021 in my office in Shanghai. I wish to thank all those importers in China as well as the wine estates that took it upon themselves to let me have wines and vintages I might have missed on during my three weeks spent in Alsace last year, and while tasting here in China, the country I live in now. I have been visiting Alsace as often as up to five times a year since 1980, and have intensified my visits there especially since 2000, and even though I now live in China, I will continue to visit Alsace regularly as soon as Covid allows us all to travel safely. In short, I am without doubt the English-language wine writer that has most visited and most paid attention to this region and its wines over the last twenty years. I have written at length on Alsace, its wines, estates and restaurants during a twenty-year spell that spanned my time at Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, Decanter and Vinous, not to mention two important Italian wine magazines. Now that I am the Editor-in-Chief of the TerroirSense Wine Review, I will continue to provide and actually further increase this state-of-the-art Alsatian wine coverage in my typical, extremely in-depth fashion in the years to come. An example is this article that is divided into two parts, because it is simply too long to publish as a single work; Part 2 will be out at the beginning of next week. Enjoy!

The wines 

Jean-Baptiste Adam.

NV Crémant D’Alsace Brut                                            91

Pale straw with a steady stream of small bubbles. White flowers, vanilla and mint on the fresh nose. Similar flavours to the aromas in the mouth, but with a more obvious presence of ripe orchard fruit. Finishes long and suave, with sneaky complexity. Drinking window: now-2025

NV Crémant D’Alsace Brut Rosé                                                90

Bright pink with a good bead of persistent bubbles. Strawberry and redcurrant mingle with herbs on the livey nose and nicely textured palate. Enetrs sharp and lively, then turns creamier in the middle, finishing bright and refreshing on the nicely persistent close. Drinking window: now-2025

2019 Pinot Blanc Les Natures Alsace                                   90

Pale yellow. Aromas and flavours of white peach, honey and beeswax. A spicy nuance gains steam on the medium-long fresh finish. May not be the last word in complexty but this is so much fun to drink I found I couldn’t put the glass back down. I think Adam has knack with this wine.

2019 Riesling Les Natures Alsace                                                90

Straw-green. Lemony, flinty and floral, with an effusively fruity, lively quality to its aromas and flavours of minty herbs and ripe soft orchard fruit. The aftertaste is long and suave, picking up mineral strokes on the back.

Agathe Bursin.

About 35,000 a year only for what is one of the true up and coming stars of the Alsace wine region, though some might rightly argue that is an unfair description of the estate. For there are many out there who have long been aware of Agathe’s excellent work, so she’s hardly an unknown entity anymore. For sure, there are fewer better producers of Sylvaner wine anywhere, but if truth be told this estate’s Pinot Noir wines are outstanding too, as are the Muscats. It’s really more a case of what you’re going to like more, rather than what you’re not going to like, because quality is uniformly high across the board.

2019      Alsace Blanc As de B                                                       90

Bright, pale yellow-green. Pineapple and white flowers on the nose, lifted by a twist of lemon. Quite juicy, fruity and supple, with moderately ripe, precise flavours of yellow apple, pear and lime, plus a whiff of baked apple. Lovely easygoing white blend that lasts and offers plenty of bang for your buck. You can tell from entry-level wines of this quality that 2019 is a very good to oustanding vintage in Alsace.       Drinking window: now-2025

2019     Muscat Alsace                                                           93

Bright straw-green yellow. Pink grapefrut, orange blossom, tangerine, white pepper, lemongrass, mint, and minerals on the knockout nose and in the mouth. Bright, fresh and energetic, this finishes long and clean, boasting delightful inner-mouth perfume and a saline twist. This is excellent! An 80% Muscat Ottonel and 20% Muscat d’Alsace blend (Agathe tells me the vineyard plot had always been co-planted like that). Drinking window: now-2025

2019      Sylvaner Lutzeltal Alsace                                                      91

Bright straw green. Drop-dead gorgeous aromas and flavours of pear, chamomile, green and yellow apple by the bushels. A very fresh Luztental on entry, then a little green and harsh in the middle but finishes long clean and savory. This just needs alittle time to calm down. Drinking window: 2022-2026

2019      Sylvaner Eminence Alsace                                                     94

Deep straw-green. Perfumed aromas of orcard fruit and sweet spices, with a touch of coriander and quince paste adding interest and further complexity. Very rich and dense, with a suave moutfeel and boasting very pure flavours of apple jelly and pear complicated by a hint of soy sauce. The finish lasts minutes and coats the mouth in a wave of luscious ripe fruit. Beautiful stuff. Drinking window: 2022-2027

2019      Pinot Blanc Parad’aux Alsace                                              89

Luminous straw-green. Bright and effusively floral, with hints of beeswax adding depth and size to the mostly floral aromas and flavours. This is simple and easygoing, but is actually a very good wine that deserves your attention. Drinking window: now-2024

2019      Riesling Bollenberg Alsace                                                    90

Vivid straw-green. Green apple, peach, marigold and lemon verbena on the clean, linear nose. Then more green apple and fresh citrus fruits in the mouth, lifted by very strong, lemony acidity (8.14 g/L total acidity, and I’d say it’s noticeable). Closes long, lean and zingy; I guarantee this will have you thinking of oysters from first sip to last. Drinking window: now-2025

2019      Riesling Dirstelberg Alsace                                                    91

Bright pale straw-green. Clean and fresh aromas of white flowers and stone fruit. Then more white and yellow peach in the mouth, with a liquid spicy component. The finish is long and hints at an underlying creaminess. As always, this is Bursin’s biggest, chunkiest Riesling wine, but noteworthy, harmonious acidity gives its vintage a much more refined, elegant personality that is usual with this bottling. Drinking window: 2023-2029

2019      Riesling Zinnkoepflé      Alsace                                                    87

Straw green. Lemon and lime with delicate white flowers and spcices on the nose and in the mouth. Not especially rich or compact, striking me as a little dilute and simpler than I was expecting. Not exactly the end of the world as far as fine wines go, I am used to this wine performing betetr than it did, but maybe I just caught it at an awkward time. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2019      Pinot Gris Dirstelberg Alsace                                                88+

Medium straw yellow. Ripe pear, apple and butter aromas are then echoed as flavours in the mouth. Fresh and straightforward, this is made from 50 years old vines, but strikes me as a little thin, lacking not just in stuffing but in depth too. Mch better on the nose today, so maybe all this needs is to be cellared for another three years or so to help it come around while putting on some meat on those presently skinny bones. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2019 Gewurztraminer Dirstelberg    Alsace                                      92

Bright yellow. Sweet spices, ripe peach and banana, and a touch of rose oil on the nose and on the palate. Absolutely lovely, boasting a nose that is textbook for the variety. Finishes long, fresh and clean. I especially like this wine’s balance and delicacy, two words that don’t always go hand in hand with Gewurztraminer wines, but this is a good one. Drinking window: now-2027

2019      Gewurztraminertraminer Zinnkoepflé Alsace                                  92

Pale golden yellow but deeper than the Gewurztraminertraminer Dirstelberg. Then also much richer on the nose and especially the palate too, with a more complex array of orchard and tropical fruit flavours enlivened by floral nuances. Closes with a noteworthy tannic bite but a clean mouthfel. Very different but also more interesting than the 2019 Gewurztraminer  Dirstelberg. Drinking window: now-2028

2019      Pinot Gris Zinnkoepflé Alsace                                              88

Medium deep straw-yellow. Green and yellow apple plus hints of camphor on the enticing nose. Then rich and chewy, with bright dense, chewy, flavours that duplicate the aromas. There’s good richness and depth here but this isn’t exactly a blockbuster, and could use a little more complexity for a higher score. The vines average 30 years of age. Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Sylvaner Lutzeltal Alsace                                               92

Straw yellow-green. Lovely aromas and flavours of baked apple and pear, plus an uncommonly strong note (at least for what I know of Agathe Bursin’s Sylvaner wines that I have been tasting closely for the past fifteen years) of hay and dried plants. At once quite ripe but very fresh, it closes long and with a surprisingly strong spicy note. Beautifully balanced (7g/L r.s., 4.74 g/L total acidity and 3.5 pH). The Strangenberg hill area separates Rouffach from Westhalten, and the slope that looks towards Rouffach was named the Vorbourg grand cru; the other part is the Lutzental, characterized by marly-calcareous soils. It is in my mind an utstanding premier cru site (for that much, I strongly believe that parts of it are better than some parts of the Vorbourg). The roughly 65 year old vines never fail to contribute a note of licorice and menthol on the finish. Drinking window: now-2025 Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Sylvaner Eminence Alsace                                                     94

Now we’re talking! A simply superb Sylvaner wine that is very deep, rich and round, with a noticeably sweet personality but so magically well-balanced (25 g/L r.s., 5.46 g/L total acidity, and 3.5 pH) that it comes across as off-dry and best. Very silky liquid apple jelly nuances linger long on the elegant smooth finish. This beauty is made with Sylvaner vines planted in the Zinnkopeflé in the 1930s by Agathe’ great-grandparent Mathias Boherer. The vines face mostly southeast (by contrast the Lutzeltal is southeast /southwest-facing). Lovely Eminence, this is a showstopper; try it with any slightly lean freshwater fish you can think of, mushroom omelettes, roast chicken with mushrooms or even a blaquette de veau. Drinking window: now-2030

2018      Pinot Blanc Parad’aux Alsace                                               92

Pinot Blanc talking here, even though it’s a blend of 50% Pinot Blanc and 50% Auxerrois (the Pinot Blanc vines go back as far as 1929, so that old age has a lot to do with how powerful this variety’s presence comes across in the blend!). You do get the spicy, honeyed note of the Auxerrois on the finish, but this starts off with notes of Pinot Blanc (green apple mostly, plus hints of white flwers and beeswax). Fresh and juicy on the clean, long and suave close. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Riesling Bollenberg Alsace                                                    92

Pale straw-green. Lemon, lime, grilled nuts, chlorphyll and a leesy nuance on the nose. Then juicy and lean, with a bit of acidity showing, lifting the clean tangerine and lime flavours. Closes long, citrussy and zingy. This is a very calcareous soil the effects of which are heightened by the specific massal selection chosen by the Bursin family that develops a very strong citrus fruit note at the back end. The plots is a recent acquisition for the estate. Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Riesling Dirstelberg Alsace                                                    90

Dark medium straw-green. Slightly monotonal aromas of spring flowers and banana. Enters fresh, then looms larger but still with good cut and thrust to its quince and diesel fuel notes. Made with a special biotype of Riesling that does not readily produce the citrus and floral nuances that are typically associated with the variety but rather gives bigger, riper aromas and flavours. It is characterized in fact by rounder acidity than the Bollenberg Riesling. Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Riesling Zinnkoepflé Alsace                                                  88

Vibrant straw-green with golden tinges. Enticing aromas of dried fruits, lime blossom and nuts. Rather reserved and delicate, with modest ripeness. Long clean and penetrating, offering very pretty fresh flower notes on the long zippy finish. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Pinot Noir Lutzeltal Alsace                                                    90

Brught deep red. Quite spicy on the nose with hints of blackberry and dark red cherry fruit, then elegant, smooth and juicy with similar flavours to the aromas. Slightly shut down when first tasted in August 2020, it has since opened and is now communicating its delicately flinty bright red and black cherry fruit to much greater effect. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2018      Pinot Noir Strangenberg Alsace                                           88

Much darker colour than the Lutzeltal. Also bigger deeper and more austere in the mouth, with a noteworthy smoky presence to the dark cherry and berry fruit flavours. Slightly tough tannins on the long back end need time. Drinking window: 2024-2030

2017      Pinot Noir Lutzeltal Alsace                                                    89

Deep luminous ruby-red. Very smoky on the nose, but redolent of red cherry and strawberry notes. Fresh downright yummy on entry, this is rich, round and fresh with good sweetness to the red berry fruit , but turns slightly bitter on the long clean finish. Drinking window: now-2025

2017      Pinot Noir Strangenberg Alsace                                           91

Once again, much darker in colour than the Lutzeltal. Notes of deep black cherry, herbs and tar on entry, then juicy and fresh with good fruit intensity to the flavours. Perhaps finishes just a tad bitter, but I doubt anyone will notice when they are eating. A deep complex wine, but not quite as massive as some prior vintages of this wine. Drinking window: 2023-2029

2018     Muscat Bollenberg Vendanges Tardives Alsace                                91

Bright golden-tinged straw green colour. Perfumed minty green herbs, lime and grapefruit complicated by ahint of lemongrass. Not especially thick or rich but very long clean and juicy. 100% Muscat Ottonel made from 23 years old vines, it is very typical of the variety offering lots in the way of perfume and less body and size. Drinking window: now-2028

2018      Riesling Zinnkoepflé Vendanges Tardives      Alsace                               93

Golden tinged pale yellow. Lime zest and lime jelly vie for your attention along with notes of lemon ice and vodka. Lovely long and clean, this is very fresh and light on its feet despite having been made with 100% passerillage grapes. Harvested on October 11, it’s a lovely Vendanges Tardives that is not too sweet and will pair well with foods that have a little residual sweetness, such as shrimp, scallops and pumpkins. Drinking window: now-2029

2018 Pinot Gris Zinnkoepflé Vendanges Tardives Alsace                       93

Luminous straw green with golden highlights. Very reticent nose as always (the Zinnkopeflé wines will tend do so in their youth), then liquid apple jelly and sweet lemon verbena nuances. Very long, clean and pure, not all the very concentrated but a gentler, more refined kind of Pinos Gris Vendanges Tardives . Importantly, Agathe likes to harvest earlier than some of her other colleagues identifying already in the winter what each vines will likely give her. Drinking window: now-2030

2018 Gewurztraminer Zinnkoepflé Vendanges Tardives  Alsace                                             90

Bright pale golden yellow. Nice nose of the less opulent style of Gewurztraminer wine, offering more custard and cream, even a hint of minerality, than obviously ripe tropical fruit. Rather big on the palate, with in your face flavours of ripe exotic fruit, sweet spices, orange marmelade, but less opulent vene in the mouth than is common with this variety. A little chunky on the finish and just a tad warm too, but this is irresistable. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2018      Pinot Gris Zinnkoepflé Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace                            96

Beautiful golden yellow hue. Aromas and flavours of truffles, honey, baked cinnamon pear, and caramel, this is refined and lifted thanks to harmonious acidity tahnsk to the Pinot Gris vines being planted in the highest portion of the cru where it’s very ventilated helping the Pinot Gris maintains its freshness. Really lovely Pinot gris SGN here. Drinking window: now-2030

2018 Gewurztraminer Zinnkoepflé Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace                     94

Medium golden yellow. Boasts immediaely recognizable Gewurtz aromas and flavours (lychee, peach, grapefruit, honey, cinnamon, and other sweet spices) but is not excessive, coming across instead as very lively, clean and fresh, and very elegant, as is in the style of this grand cru, one of the three or four grandest sites in all Alsace for this variety. Drinking window: now-2032

2017 Riesling Zinnkoepflé Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace                             96

Pale golden yellow. Noble rot-accented nose of lemon curd and nail varnsish, this boasts marvellous purity. Soft gentle and not excessively sweet (78 g/L r.s – to help you put things in perspective, a Sauternes usually boasts 120 g/L or so- and a relatively high 7.42 g/L total acidity), this finishes long clean fresh pure but with a slight tannic bite at the back that is typical of the 2017 vintage in Alsace. The grapes were harvested in mid-October. Bursn’s oldest vineyard in this site was planted in 1982 and she uses it to make the dry wine, but s there are three plots in all, she uses each one to make a different wine, from classically dry, to Vendanges Tardives to SGN. Drinking window: now-2033

2017 Gewurztraminer Zinnkoepflé Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace              94

Golden yellow. Baked bread, grilled bacon, smoked beef, tropical fruit and violet aromas and flavours of real comnplexity. Less explosive on the palate than I might have expected but still very typical of this variety and showcasing outstanding balance (105 g/L r.s. and 5.28 g/L total acidity). No noble rot, as this was obtained mostly from passerillage. Drinking window: now-2030

Arthur Metz.

2019 Sylvaner Alsace                                                       90

Pale yellow-green. Lively aromas of citrus fruits, balsamic herbs, and menthol, complicated by hints of quince. Juicy apple, lime, chamomile and herb flavors offer good cut and precision. The persistent finish shows solid spine and a building anise and chamomile quality. Lovely stuff: there’s lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window: now-2025

2019 Gewurztraminer Alsace                                                       89

Medium bright yellow-gold. Aromas of mirabelle, sweet spices and earth. Plump but lively with a glyceral honeyed character and a persistent stream of tropical and spicy flavours on the medium-long lively aftertaste. Easygoing wine that offers good value for money. Drinking window: now-2025

2018 Riesling Steinklotz Grand Cru Alsace                                       88

Bright straw green with golden highlights. Forwqrd aromas of flowers, herbs, lemon and hazelnut. Classically dry and almost austere (as is very typical of Riesling from the Steinklotz vineyard, so this is to be expected), with a soft spicy quality to the flavors of yellow fruits, lime, and licorice. Finishes dry but a little flat, with a creamy quality that remains this side of vegetal. The Steinklotz is a roughly 44 hectare large site near Marlenheim and bossts a mostly limestone soil. Curiously, it is mostly planted to Gewurztraminer, though you’d think Riesling would find pride of place here, but not so. Part of that is due to the fact that Gewurz does so well here that one udnerstands well why almost 45% of the grand cru is planted to it, in fact the most planted variety of the grand cru. Drinking window: now-2026


The estate owns roughly 18.5 hectares of vines and prodces an average of 120,000 bottles a year. Besides their usual array of very fine wines, last year they have provided a home for bees in the Clos Sand, so much so that Maxime Barmès was joking around when I visited last summer that he’s become a beekeper. The estate has been biodynamically farmed since 20 years and prodcues a bunch of classic wiens, the best of which are in my view the Rieslings.

2018      Crémant d’Alsace Brut Nature                                             92

Bread and orchard fruit (mostly apple and pear) that boasts a candied quality on both the nose and the mouth. But there’s an almost piercing quality to this in the mouth, with a steady stream of clean bubbles that wash the flavours down. Disgorged on February 14 of last year, this spent ten months on the lees. It’s a blend of mainly 50% Pinot Gris, 30% Auxerrois and 15% Chardonnay, all planted on both hillside and flatland plots (though hillside plots are the majority. This is really very good. Drinking window: now-2025

2019      Alsace Blanc 7 Grains                                                     88

Apples and pears with ahint of citrus fruits and white flowers, this is approachably simple and lovely, q real vin de soif that offers leisurely, uncomplicated drinking. The blend changes each year depending on the vintage, but it’s always a mix of seven local Alsace grape varieties , and hence the wine’s name (in 2019: 37% Riesling, 30% Pinot Blanc, 23% Gewurztraminertraminer, 6% Auxerrois, 4% Pinot Gris; but for example, in the 2018 there was more Gewurztraminer in the blend). This wine is always classically dry (3 g/L rs) and the malo alctic always carried out, it’s part of the Vins de Fruit lineup of the winery portfolio, differentlyfrom the Vins de Terroir section. Drinking window: now-2023

2018      Riesling Alsace Vin de Fruits                                                89

Pale straw-green. Floral but more fruity than anything else, it really does smell and taste of green apple and pear. Quite long and pleasant, fresh sweet and juicy, the fruit is picked around Wettolsheim, Wintzenhein, Eguisheim and other local towns, meaning therefore that these grapes grow on generally lighter, well-draining soils. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Sylvaner Rosenberg Alsace                                                   91

Straw-green. Green fruit, minerals and a hint of chamomile and other herbs Harvested slightly earlier than usual in 2018 (September 6) and spent one year (at most) in used oak. Bright fresh and layered, this offers lively aromas and flavours that linger nicely on the smooth finish. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Pinot Blanc Rosenberg Alsace                                               89

Clean, fresh and long, offers a slightly sweet taste and a juicy personality in which really only a bit of Auxerrois shows. Closes clean and floral, with some vanilla and other spice nuances emerging on the medium-long back end. About 60% Pinot Blanc and 40% Auxerrois in the blend. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Riesling Clos Sand Alsace                                                      91

Pale straw-green. As usual with this site, a Riesling that offers a real lesson in terroir, with Clos Sand-recognizable laser-like delivery of green and yellow fruits and minerals, with a complementary saline edge on the longback end. Though high in acid as always, in 2018 this offers more stuffing than usual. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Riesling Leimental Alsace                                                      91

Luminous straw green. Simple, clean, fresh notes of licorice, fennel, apple, and pear on the nose and in the mouth.  Nicely balanced but doesn’t stick out particularly, remaining currently on its reserve and not showcasing much. Though at times the fruit here is hit by noble rot, this was not the case of 2018. The Leimental is a plateau next to Rosenberg, and is only very lightly sloped. Drinking window: now-2027

2018 Riesling Hengst      Alsace                                                           93

In typical Hengts tyle, this is big, huge even, chunky and spicy. Very forweard in its ripe aromas and flavours, this boasts big extract and acidity levels so I have no doubt it will be long-lived. Needs time, finishing with a good spicy kick. Drinking window: 2024-2031

2018      Pinot Gris Rosenberg Alsace                                                 91

Lively straw green. Banana and saline brushstrokes complement lovely, long, juicy orange and apple aromas and flavours, closing long and clean. This fermented slowly right into the spring. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Gewurztraminer Tradition Alsace                                       91

Not very explosive but definitly Gewurztraminer-like in its personality, with a  lovely, balanced and not at all over the top personality. Off-dry (22 g/L rs) but rather dainty, though this clearly has sneaky concentration. About 4-5000 bottles a year from the Herrenweg as well as vineyards near the domaine on mostly limestone and sandy soils. Drinking window: now-2025

2018 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg Alsace                                           93

Tropical fruit and custard on the nsoe and in the mouth, but also an overall refined personality. Some terpenic bitterness at the back but nicely buffered by just enough residual sugar (51 g/L r.s here, which might seem like alot, but any less and this would have left this too bitter). In my experience, the Rosenberg normally gives a dainty Gewurztraminer wine; certainly rich as is typical of the grape, but never heavy and often with a hint of mineral refinement. Clean, fresh and long, this is quite lovely. Importantly, this is a windy plot about 0.72 hectares large located at the top of a hill and that helps give balance to the finsiehd wine. About 5000 bottles. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Gewurztraminer Steingrubler Alsace                                         93

Similar to the Rosenberg Gewurztraminertraminer in its colour, aroma and flavour profuiles, but more vertical than that wine and with greater salinity. Bright golden-tinged straw yellow, this offers intense notes of mint, thyme and cumin. In a very herbal style at first, but then simple and round with notes of apple fizz and gin on the long and slightly sweet finish (57 g/l r.). Made from a single 0.4 hectare plot of 37 years old vines planted near the forest so the plots boasts a quite cool habitat, steep with a southeastern exposure. Drinking window: now-2028

2018      Gewurztraminer Pfersigsberg Alsace                                         87

In typical Pfersigsberg style, this is very floral but also a little too simple with no real lift or complexity to speak of despite teh vines being 44 years old. Medium-long, with a luscious mouthfeel to the ginger-accented finish that also hints at white pepper and chili. Maybe a little bottle age will help this gain complexity and pout weight on. The soil here is mostly marly and Mushelkalk. Much more bitter (despite the 40 g/L r.s.) and tannic than the other Gewurztramineres in this lineup. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Gewurztraminer Hengst Alsace                                            93

Medium golden-tinged yellow. Offers lemongrass, white peach, mint, and lavander on the nsoe, then more jam and crystallzied fruits in the mouth, this rather dainty Gewurztraminer (“dainty” hardly being a descriptor I associate with neither the Hengst nor the variety) is long and smooth and is not especially opulent but juicy. Some terpenic bitterness emerges on the long back end even with 44 g/L r.s.. About 1200 bottles made. Drinking window: now-2030

2018      Pinot Noir Rèserve Alsace                                                     90                

Deep ruby. At once juicy and fruity but with lovely richness to the soy sauce and plum aromas. Then saline and nicely lively flavours of orchard frit and herbs. Not skeletal at all as some Alsatian Pinot Noir wines still often are, this was aged for one year in 228 liter pièces. About 7000 bottles a year, but it depends on the vintage. 100% destemmed.

2018 Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes Alsace                                               93+

Deep red. Great nose but this is also very good on the palate too. Perfumed and concentrated with dark berry syrup and crystallized fruit flavours, boasting very good spicy long and juicy moutfeel. Turns just a little edgy on the long lively back end, this needs time. Aged in 20% new oak and is made all with Hengst grapes (the Hengst appears to be a true grand cru for Alsatian Pinot Noir, though I still appreciate the Gewurztraminer made there even more). The winery only has 0.35 hectares of 52 year old vines here, so you knwo there is not much of this beautiful wine made. Drinking window: 2022-2030


2019 Riesling Les Elements  Alsace                                                    90

Vivid straw-green. Perfumed aromas of apple and lime. Nicely vibrant, with penetrating fragrant aromas and flavours of pear, lime, and balsamic herbs. This entry level wine is a small-scaled Riesling with lively acidity, but boasts good balance and plenty of flavour intensity on the long finish. A very good buy. Drinking window: now-2025

2017 Riesling Kronenbourg  Alsace                                             88

Pale, green-tinged yellow. Slightly subdued nose hints at mint and crushed stone. Juicy, limey, and straightforward, with easygoing subtle flavours of orchard fruit and minty herbs. The finish enlivens the palate with hints of lime zest. Drinking window: now-2025

2017 Riesling Schlossberg Alsace                                                 94

Pale straw yellow. Apple, peach and a hint of resin on the rather pretty nose. Stony, firm and elegant, in a slightly more lemony, austere style than the richer Schoenebourg, but this white showcases captivating balance. Ripe and supple but finishes with a strong mineral edge. Well done here. Drinking window: now-2029

2017 Riesling Schoenenbourg                                                93

Bright golden-tinged yellow. Sweet, attractive aromas and flavours of lemon, pineapple and stone fruits, complicated by hints of lemon verbena and jasmine. Concentrated, round and easygoing with a hint of residual sweetness, this is a long, beautiful white wine. Should any of my readers still have bottles of the 2014, or know where to get them, do not heditate as that it has turned out into an absolutely magnificent wine that, though not at all classically dry, easily merits a 95 point score. Drinking window: now-2030

Albert Boxler.

2019 Pinot Blanc Alsace                                                           92

Bright, pale straw yellow colour. Musky aromas of white flowers and fresh citrus fruit with a soft mineral bent. Structured and penetrating, this is a serious Pinot Blanc with very good density and noteworthy depth of flavours, not to mention archetypal varietally accurate flavours of orchard fruit and beeswas. Offers an impressive combination of power and finesse on the long smooth finish. Drinking window: now-2025

2019 Riesling Alsace                                                          92

Transparent straw-green. Bright, lively aromas of lime and white flowers, with a zingy mineral overlay. Easygoing but with sneaky concentration, and quite vibrant and light on is feet in the style of 2019. Not so subtle mineral and lemony nuances add interest to the floral flavours and make this unmistakably Riesling. Penetrating, persistent wine that though not especially complex, is just dandy as an entry level wine. I’ve been drinking this all summer long with oysters. Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Chasselas Alsace                                                  90

Bright straw-green. Fragrant apple, pear and gentle spices on the nose and in the mouth. Easygoing, brightly acidic but harmonious, this has enticing texture and good concentration for such an entry-level wine. The vines are located close to Niedermorschwihr and were planted in 1969. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Sylvaner Alsace                                                   92

Pale translucent straw-green. Marzapan, almond paste, yellow stone fruit and a whiplash of fresh citrus fruit on the enticing nsoe. Then flavours similar to the aromas, but complicated by a saline edge. Closes long and vibrant. Very much in the style of the vintage, the 2018 Albert Boxler Sylvaner is more honeyed and textured than some other past vintages of this wine, which I think will heighten this lovely wine’s appeal even further. Made from plots that are 60-75 years old, so you realize there is real vielles vignes quality here. As famous as Jean Boxler is for his Rieslings (and he should be, given how incredibly gifted he is with the variety), his Sylvaner is just a beautiful wine. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Pinot Blanc B Alsace (called and sold as Pinot Blanc Reserve in the USA)                     93

Bright golden-tinged straw yellow. Knockout wine with fresh, chiseled aromas and flavours of beeswax, citrus fruits and delicate spices. The aftertaste is long, suave and refreshing. Very rare Alsatian example of 100% Pinot Blanc (meaning there is no Auxerrois blended in), planted in the Kirchberg sector of the Brand grand cru, which is east-facing and much cooler than some other parts of the Brand. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Riesling Alsace                                                    88

Vivid straw green. Spicy, honeyed and clean aromas and flavours of chamomile and anise. Juicy and slightly sweet but with sharp acidity breathing life and lift into what is a rather ripe wine for Boxler. Closes medium-long. Made with grapes picked from the high part of the Sommerberg and other plots in the Pfoeller lieu-dit. Drinking window: now-2025

2018      Riesling Sommernerg  JV  Alsace (called Riesling Reserve in the USA)        91

Good full straw yellow. Very clean, fresh aromas of anise, but with a stony undertone that is lacking in the 2018 Riesling from Boxler. Then more lemon and citrus fruits in the mouth, but much deeper and longer and mineral. his is really another step up in density and quality, deeper, and finishing long with repeating mineral nuances. The JV (Jeunes Vignes) is the real thing folks. This is called Riesling Reserve in the USA. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018         Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg Alsace

Luminous straw-green with golden highlights. Ansie,  chamomile and baked apple aromas are both clean and fresh. Then vibrant in the mouth too, with simialr flavours to the aromas and a long ripe finish. The grapes for this wine are picked from the middle portion of the slope, which makes all the difference. Drinking window: 2024-2030

2018      Riesling Sommerberg Eckberg Alsace                                    94

Green-tinged color. Lime, mandarin, orange flowers and talc on the rather forward, broad but deep nose. Densely packed and intensely flavored, with youthfully backward spice, herb and mineral elements, offering plenty of texture and noteworthy length. A great Eckberg. Drinking window: 2024-2032

2018 Riesling Grand Cru Brand Alsace                                                91

Bright straw-green. Pear, petrol and a whiff of resin on the nose. Powerfully structured, minerally and classically dry, with refreshing hints of grapefruit and anise. Distinctly structured wine, finishing with a trace of alcohol-derived heat. As good as this, and it is, I think it’s a slightly simpler wine than what we are used from Boxler at this level of quality and from his Riesling Grand Cru Brand wines, though I am the first to admit it is an undeniably easy to understand wine that is easy to like. Made with mostly Kirchthal grapes (plus a little bit from the Kirchberg). Drinking window: 2023-2029

2018      Riesling Brand Grand Cru Kirchberg Alsace                                       93

Limpid pale green-straw color. Reserved, saline aromas of lime, minerals and herbs. Then very dense, with rich flavours of lime, mint and powdered rocks. Tactile and deep, with a penetrating quality and a clean long fresh finish that leaves you salivating and wanting another glass quick. The age of the vines here (75 years old) makes all the difference. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Riesling Sommerberg Dudenstein Alsace                                          93

Vivid straw-green with obvious golden tinges. Bright, saline-edged orchard fruit and mineral elements soar on the nose and in the mouth. Closes very long and nicely delineated, with repeating nuances of apple and pear and a broad, strikingly opulent mouthfeel for a Boxler wine. The grapes are picked at a much lower altitude than some other Riesling wines made by Boxler, and therefore in a warmer habitat, but the subsoil of calcaire and Mushelkalk, with granite, that really contributes to the mouthfeel that is at once citrussy and round. Planted in 1946, the vines here are definitly of the vieilles variety, and that tells you all you need to know about the quality potential of this wine. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Riesling Brand Grand Cru Kirchthal Alsace                                    91

Medium dark straw colour. Spice, honey and flint on the nose and in the mouth. Concentrated and fairly round, but strong acidity keeps this very rich wine from cloying on the log suave finish. All Kirchthal grapes. Drinking window: 2023-2028

2018     Muscat Brand Grand Cru Alsace                                            92

Bright straw-green with golden tinges. Very honeyed, ripe orchard fruit with much less citrus presence than usual.  There’s just enough acidity to give lift and some terpenic notes on the aftertaste to add interest. Closes long clean and dense, this is the perfect Alsace Muscat wine for those who like a bigger riper more powerful style. A 50-50 blend of Muscat Ottonel and d’Alsace. Drinking window: now-2026

2018     Pinot Gris Réserve Alsace                                          87

Medium yellow-gold. Exotic fruits and ripe pear mix with honey and butter on the nose and in the mouth. This struck me as very simple; clean and fresh too, but really without much complexity. Made with grapes picked in good plots grown around the village of Niedermorshwihr. Drinking window: now-2024

2018     Pinot Gris Wibtal Alsace                                                  91

Bright medium dark golden-tinged straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of orchard fruit, honey and caramel, plus an enticing mineral note that adds lift. Much bigger and with greater purity and length than the entry-level 2018 Boxler Pinot Gris, but just like that wine, this also comes across as rather sweet and simple. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2018     Pinot Gris Brand Grand Cru Alsace                                     94

Deep straw yellow. Rich and dense aromas of honey, butter, and pear. Rather plump and round, with a delicate mouthfeel and ripe flavours similar to the aromas. The aftertaste is round and ripe, and lasts long, denoting good  complexity. Made with grapes from the Kirchthal and Steinglitz section of the Brand, some of this Pinot Gris was planted back in 1956 and is of very high quality. The granite helped make for a less rich and somewhat brighter Pinot Gris wine in 2018; this struck me as by far the best of the Boxler Pinot Gris this year, a much more complex, smooth and dense wine. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Gewurztraminertraminer Alsace                                            87

Vivid golden highlights to the straw yellow colour. Spices and ripe tropical fruit mix nicely with honey on the lovely nose. Then slightly bitter and overly tannic, with a chewy, slightly rubbery mouthfeel. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2018      Gewurztraminertraminer Reserve Alsace                             93

Bright golden-tinged yellow. Initially closed on the nose, then opens witn aeration to showcase rich, dense, suave honeyed aromas of orchard and tropical fruit and sweet spices. Clean fresh and long, this is very well-balanced with no terpenic bitterness to the long clean suave soft spicy fruit flavours. More off-dry than dry but absolutely delicious, this is made with a blend of grapes from different vineyards planted arond the town. Drinking window: now-2027

2017      Riesling Sommerberg Vendanges Tardives Alsace                                      95

Golden-tinged yellow. Spicy white pepper dominates the nose and the mouth, with lemon, tangerine, jasmine and minerals remaining somewhat in the background. Closes long and zippy. Harvested at the end of September, which is early for a Vendanges Tardives (consider also that “vendanges tardives” means “late harvest”, and admittedly, harvesting in September really isn’t all that late), but Boxler focuses on those grapes hit by noble rot (such that the wine’s final make up is one made of 40-50% nobly rotten grapes) allowing for a wine that will ultimately boast greater complexity and acidity, despite having been picked so early. The grapes were also partly air-dried directly on the vine in the dry and hot 2018 vintage conditions and this combination made for a captivating end result. Drinking window: 2023-2033

2017      Pinot Gris Wibtal Vendanges Tardives Alsace                                     97

Here’s a great late harvest Pinot Gris! Truffles, mushrooms, herbs, caramel, toffee apple and tarte tatin explode on the nose and in the mouth. Long and very well-balanced, with a hint of a tannic spine (which is very 2017) providing backbone to the luscious sweet flavours, this truly lovely wine finishes long, clean, fresh, juicy and pure. About 50% of the grapes were hit by noble rot but were also slightly air-dried, making for a big rich deep wine that boasts noteworthy complexity and a hard to come by mineral element that leaves a lively vibrant note on the spicy long finish. Great stuff. Drinking window: 2023-2033

2017      Gewurztraminertraminer Pfoeller Vendanges Tardives Alsace                        95

Bright yellow-gold. Refined aromas and flavours of honey, crystallized lemons, mango, orange liqueur and rose petals. Very harmonious, with good acid-sugar balance finishing long with a welcome bittersweet nuance. From vines planted in 1947 located just below the Dudenstein. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2017      Pinot Gris Heimbourg Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace                               95+

Vivid pale golden-yellow. Clean, fresh and very sweet, with aromas and flavours of baked apple, cinnamon, strawberry, toffee, herbs and truffle, but despite the notes of underbrush and herbs, it’s a very fruity SGN. Big and round but lifted, this needs to be cellared for a few years to allow it to showcase all that it has to offer, which is plenty. In time it will develop further complexity and depth. Only 2300 square meters of vines planted in 1969.  Drinking window: 2025-2032


2019      Riesling Alsace                                                          93         

Straw-yellow. Violet, jasmine, nectarine, white peach, lemon, and white flowers on the explosive nose. Then bright and juicy, with a saline bent on the long, clean and very pure close. I hope my Alsatian friends will forgive me if I say and write this is almost Mosel-like in many ways (and I mean a good Mosel wine, one that is fresh and dainty, not one of the new-wave wines that is uber-dry and tastes like you are munching on a field of grass). Francis Burn has hit it out of the park with this entry-level wine, that betrays its humble origins only on the slightly diluted finish. The grapes were harvested late as is customary for Francis Burn (in mid October and at the end of October), a good thing as rain arrived in mid-October in the area and didn’t much let up until the first week of November). Still he had to pick the grapes for these wines in two passes, in between the two bouts of October rain. This absolutelly lovely wine is a steal for the money and is one of the easiest to drink wines from Burn in years. I loved this, but mind you, I tasted a barrel sample that will be sold only in two years time. Ok then, let’s just say we all have something to look forward to. About 10.000 bottles a year made. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2019      Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Alsace                                    93+

Let me be crystal-clear: Burn is one of the three best producers of Sylvaner wine in Alsace and one of the best in the world. What he coaxes out of his old Sylvaner vines is nothing short of extraordinary. And given the rather low cost per bottle, this wine also represents one of the world’s greatest wine buys (which I specifically wrote about back in my Decanter days). Deep medium yellow. White flowers, pear, sweet almond paste, tangerine jam, and quince paste dominate the aroma and flavour profiles, with hints of bitter herbs, caramel and butter merging on the long suave finish (the buttery notes resulting from Burn putting this through a full malolactic). A touch of secondary fermentaion-derived gassiness adds freshnes. The wine is made with grapes picked in two plots (40 and 80 years old vines) planted in the Goldert (one of Alsace’s ten best Grand Crus and one of the world’s true great vineyards). Only 2500-3000 bottles of this nectar are made a year. Readers take note of the fact that no regualr Sylvaner was made in 2019 as Burn wasn’t wholly satisfied with it and preferred to blend it into his Edelzwicker. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Alsace                                           94

Pale golden-yellow. Captivating aromas of baked apple pie, nutmeg, lemongrass and white pepper on the bright rich nose. Then riper, rounder and much spicier than Burn’s 2019 Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes, which is a more fruity-floral wine; by contrast, sniffing this 2018 reminded me of a pear elixir or eau de vie. Rich, dense and round on the palate with honeyed flavours of cinnamon apple pie, nutmeg, coriander, lime cordial, pepper and quince jam. Boasts outstanding richness and balance (18 g/L r.s and only 4 g/L total acidity, but the wine dances effortlessly on your palate never once causing palate-fatigue). Closes long and clean, with repeating ripe fruit flavours. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2019      Pinot Blanc Alsace                                                                  94

Golden-tinged straw green. Green apple, white peach and white flowers on the enticing nose. Lovely juiciness and a smooth texture make for an easy drinking experience, but one blessed with sneaky concentration too. There’s just a hint of residual sweetness here on the long back end that may be a bit much for those looking for a bone dry wine, but the wine is better for it. Mark my words, this is really excellent and very refreshing to drink (the typical acidity of 2019 shines through here). I may be wrong, but tis 2019 Pinot Blanc strikes me as one fo the best Burn has made in some time. Drinking window: 2023-2029

2018      Pinot Blanc Alsace                                                           92

Bright straw yellow. Clean nose of Pinot Blanc (white flowers, beeswax) and then honey and spices that are instead more typical of Auxerrois (this wine is a two thirds Pinot Blanc and one third Auxerrois blend). At once livey and round in the mouth, with a luscious texture but also good cut nicely extending the orchard fruit flavours on the long suave finish. The grapes were harvested around early October together with the Auxerrois. Drinking window: 2022-2028

2017      Riesling Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                   91

Bright medium straw yellow. Flowers and yellow apple on the fresh nose. Then also lively and fresh on the palate, with flavours simialr to the aromas. Closes medium-long and juicy, but doesn’t strike me as the most concentrated wine you’ll ever drink from Burn. A year that was very hot com,  harvest time and that saw larger yields (all of which just tasting the wine will tell you). Drinking window: 2024-2030

2016      Riesling Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                   94

Vivid straw-green with some gold. Very perfumed, downright penetrating jasmine, lemon, tequila, white peach and green apple notes on the inviting nose, further complicated by a clear-cut presence of iodine. Then similar flavours to the aromas and very long on the smooth pear-infused back end. A small portion of grapes were hit by a little noble rot, making for a more comple, refined, and rich wine. This is superb, especially given the also difficult vintage. Drinking window: now-2030

2015      Rielsing Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                   93

Medium golden-yellow. Spicy, very concetrated aromas and flavours of ripe tangerine and orange marmelade, pear nectar and sweet spices. Very dense and round, boasting a savoury quality and a touch of aromatic herbs on the long ripe smooth finish. The suave etxture and lusicous mouthfeel are the reslt of grapes being hot by alittle noble rot(very little, as there wasn’t much in 2015) and the grapes being partly air-dried in the sweltering heat of the year. Normally, bigger riper styles of Riesling are not my thing, and though this was not one of my favourite wiens of my day spent tasting at the estate, I’ll admit I came away very impressed by it. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2015      Riesling Vieilles Vignes Alsace                                91

Bright medium dark yellow. Very stony, lemony nose with smoky notes. Then slightly flat in the mouth and almost Chardonnay-like, with flavours of ripe tropical fruit, grilled nuts and butter. Very long on the finish, which leaves a hint of residual sweetness (28 g/L r.s.). A very hot year, Burn still waited things out and harvested these specific grapes late (early October) as is customary for him (everyone else in the area started picking grapes in the beginning of September, he only did so as of September 20). Drinking window: now-2028

2019      Muscat Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                    93

Bright golden yellow. Aromas and flavours of mint, orange blossom, nail varnish, lemongrass and grapefruit nectar, complicated by hints of lemony botrytis (about 10% of the grapes were hit by noble rot). You can tell this was harvested slightly late with hints of pear nectar and tangerine jelly really dominating in the mouth and on the long suave close. A finishing touch of bitter herbs adds complexity and nicely buffers the 35 g/L r.s., but I expect the bittersweet notes to mellow further as this wine will be resting in large used oak barrels for another two years, most likely. The grapes were harvested in mid-October just before the rains fell; it’s a 50-50 blend of Muscat d’Alsace and Muscat Ottonel. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Muscat Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                    92

Pale gold-green colour. Subtle musky aromas of blood orange, quinine, mint oil and flowers. Then opulent, concentrated and very smooth on the palate, with juicy acidity giving this lift on the luscious, clean and long finish. Thiough this is quite sweet, it’s also very well-balanced (40 g/L r.s and 5.5 g/L total acidity). Here you really smell and taste the Muscat grapes in the wine. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018      Pinot Gris Goldert Close St.Imer Alsace                                    92

Dark straw yellow. Somewhat mute on the nose opening only slowly with aeration offering hints of grilled nuts, truffles, pear and underbrush. Then almost surprisingly (given the nose) rich, round and luscious, boasting very good balance to the sweet toffee apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla cream flavours. This is very good on the long suave finish. Though I wouldn’t hang on to this for too long once it’s released. Drinking window: 2023-2027

2018     Gewurztraminertraminer Goldert Clos St.Imer Alsace                                 93

Pale yellow-gold. Pungent peppery nuances add a distinctly exotic character to the aromas and flavours of fresh apple, grilled bacon, pulled pork, cinnamon, lychee and sweet spices, with a curious turpentine undertone. Lightly spicy and a bit alcoholic in the mouth, like a liqueur of clove and other sweet spices but also very grapey (a drink of this is not unlike biting into a fresh ripe Gewurztraminertraminer berry). This is a very refiened and well-balanced Gewurztraminer boasting lovely acid-sugar balance. Well done. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2017     Gewurztraminertraminer Goldert Close St.Imer Alsace                        94

Medium dark golden yellow. Very pungent nose of faded flowers, peppery spices and herbs, blended in with hints of tropical fruits. Rich round and compelx but still quite peppery and fresh on the long finish. Seems to me like this has greater complexity than the same wine in 2018. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2018     Pinot Noir Alsace                                                      88+

Medium-deep red. Intense red cherry and cough drop lozenge notes on the nose and in the mouth. Juicy with good acidity providing good lift, but has a slightly fuinky note on the long finish. This was a barrel sample, so I’ll defer judgement until I can taste it again, most likely next summer, if Covid ever allows one to travel safely. Drinking window: 2025-2030

2017     Pinot Noir Alsace                                                      90

Good full bright ruby. Aromas of black cherries under spirits, cloves and minerals, this is really quite good.  Then fresh but ripe, with clean flavours of candied red and blue fruit that glide effortlessly into a long herbal finish. I like this wine’s bright fruity-juicy personality. Drinking window: 2025-2030

2011      Muscat Goldert Clos St.Imer Grande Sélection Alsace                                  90

Deep golden yellow with amber tinges. Very intense nose of orange oil, tangerine marmelade, lime cordial, violet, geranium, and lemongrass; there’s a building pungent quality to the floral notes that turns this olfactory experience into the equivalent of walking into a flower shop. Then bright yet luscious, with a saline bent and an edgy, oxidative quality to the ripe orchard fruit and aromatic herb flavours: there’s something vaguely reminiscent of a Vin Jaune from the Jura here. Finishes long and pure, with obvious hints of mostly passerillé fruit and noteworthy savoriness. This delicious wine is made with grapes picked from a  section of the Goldert Grand Cru where some of the site’s oldest vines (averaging about 70 years of age) are found. It’s a blend of 60% Muscat d’Alsace and 40% Muscat Ottonel. About 2500 bottles made. Drinking window: 2023-2030

2017      Pinot Gris Goldert Clos St.Imer Vendanges Tardives Alsace                       92

Pale yellow-gold. Superripe aromas of crystallized yellow fruits, honey and underbrush. Bracing acidity nicely frames the powerful, pure, expansive flavours of marzipan, apple pie, peach nectar, pear tart, cinnmon, vanilla bean and nutmeg. Finishes with extreme persistence and impeccable balance that will allow you to hold on to it for years in a good cellar, or if you prefer, to drink it in the near term. Drinking window: 2023-2029

2018      Muscat Goldert Close St. Imer Sélections de Grains Nobles Alsace                    95

Golden yellow. Very pure aromas and flavours of rose water, crystallized nectarine, lemon ice, tequila, yellow apple jelly. Nicely textured but with good lift, finishing with bittersweet elements on the long finish. Harvested more or less at the end of October by Francis (he tells me all on his own!) and about 80% of the berries were hit by noble rot. This is yet another outstanding sweet wine in Burn’s long lineup of standout stickies that are all characterized by noteworthy depth of flavour, intensity and acid-sugar balance. Drinking window: 2023-2030


2016      Crémant d’Alsace Brut Nature Alsace                                        91                

Pale straw green. Lively aromas of white stone fruit, chamomile and ripe citrus fruit. Nicely juicy and shapely, with enticing fresh fruit and welcome creaminess to the fruit flavours. A nice mouthful of Crémant and a very solid bubbly from Alsace boasting rising complexity and depth the longer you let it breathe. This blend of 50% Pinot Gris, 40% Auxerrois, 5% Pinot Blanc, and 5% Riesling spent three years on the lees and did a full malolactic. Drinking window: now-2026

2016      Crémant Riesling Brut Nature Alsace                                         90

Pale straw-green. Musky aromas of lime, quinine and minerals. Boasts good flavour intensity in the mouth, delivering a clean fresh mouthful of green apple and spicy herbal flavours. Closes long, dry and minerally, with good cut and clarity. This Riesling bubbly spent 30 months on the lees and tastes almost shockingly dry with its 0.8 g/L r.s. and 6.3 g/L total acidity. Drinking window:now-2026

2017      Crémant D’Alsace Rosé Brut Alsace                             90

Medium-full red-ruby. The perfumed nose combines black cherry, strawberry, and smoke on the nose and in the mouth. Ripely fruity and nicely concentrated, with little in the way of tannins to get in the way of the pure, unadulterated plump fruit that each sip delivers in spades. This very fruity (very plummy) pink bubbly features a repeating hint of smoke (even of varnish) on the long and juicy, if slightly simple, finish. All in all, this is pretty irresistible and lots of fun to drink. 100% Pinot Noir. Drinking window: 2023-2028

2019      Pinot Noir Réserve Alsace                                                     91

Very good full deep red. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, plum, and tobacco have a strong glyceral quality but the oak is really dominating everything else presently. Still a bit of acidity to be absorbed but there also good ripeness and sweetness here. Differently from the 2018, the 2019 was aged in 50% in new demi-muids (in 500 litre foudres). Drinking window: 2024-2030

2018      Pinot Noir Alsace                                                      89

Medium red-ruby. Sappy aromas of clean red cherry and spices, with a delicate floral topnote. Then juicy and spicy, with a light pinot texture and noteworthy verve. Not fleshy or complex, but offers a pleasant, easygoing tipple, finishing with decent grip. Aged only in stainless steel. Drinking window: 2023-2028

2018      Edelzwicker Réserve Alsace                             90

Bright straw green. Very fragrant and fresh aromas and flavours of apple, pear, chamomile and candied quince. The aftertaste is clean and fresh and boasts real persistence for an Edelzwicker. Readers might like to know that the candied quince note comes from ripe Sylvaner grapes; and in fact, the fruit used to make this wine is from the young Sylvaner vines not used to make the estate’s famous Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes bottling. Besides Sylvaner, this historic Alsatian blended wine also contains Chasesselas, Gewurtraminer, Auxerrois, and Pinot Blanc), though it is mostly made up by Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner. In a sign of the success they are having wth Sylvaner, the Dirlers are replanting Sylvaner in both the Bux and Schwarzberg lieux-dits (the latter is characterized by a poorer soil that gives more elegant wines, while the former is more clay-rich and there Sylvaner just seems to thrive especially well). Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Pinot Réserve    Alsace                                    91

Pale straw-yellow. Pure, rather spicy aromas and flavours of ripe yellow peach, pepper and ginger, complicated by a touch of honey and white flowers. Transmits a sense of good power and thrust but this is also quite elegant. A 50% Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois blend that though is not free of residual sugar (4.5 g/L r.s.) tastes completely dry thanks to solid, harmonious acidity (5.34 g/L). Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes Alsace                                             93

Good full green-tinged yellow color. Floral, minty nose, with a hint of exotic fruits. Supple and fairly dense, with very harmonious acidity nicely lifting and extending the orchard fruit, floral and herbal flavours on the long back end. Very well delineated and balanced (3.6 g/L r.s. and 4.6 g/L), this finishes with solid grip and a rich, suave mouthfeel. Half the grapes used ti make this standout white wine come from the 60 years old vines in the Kessler Grand Cru with the other half made up of 50 years old vines growing in the Bux lieu-dit (farmed biodynamically since over twenty years now). Drinking window: now-2029

2018      Muscat Alsace                                                    93

Pale straw-green colour. Lovely perfumed lift to the aromas of citrus peel, mint and tarragon. Juicy, brisk and light on its feet, this also has outstanding inner-mouth perfume of herbs and licorice, nicely framed by a touch of smooth tannin. Closes long brisk and juicy, with very good balance (2.46 r.s. and 3.55 g/L total acidity). The intense perfume and light body of this outstanding wine tells you it is 100% Muscat Ottonel. Drinking window: now-2026

2018 Muscat Spiegel Alsace                                                         93+

Pale yellow with green highlights. Limey fruit and white flowers soar from the glass. A citrussy quality nicely frames the minty orchard and stone fruit flavours. Finishes with very good cut and lingering mineral character. A blend of 97% Ottonel and 3% Muscat d’Alsace, this boasts a paltry 2.85 g/L r.s. and tastes bone dry. Drinking window: now-2029

2018 Muscat Saering      Alsace                                                  94

Straw-green. Subtle notes of mint and white flowers complement grapefruit and anise aromas. Fresh and bright, with lovely inner-mouth lift to its lime blossom and mint flavours, this finishes long, juicy and lively. A blend of 55% Muscat Ottonel and 45% Muscat d’Alsace, this boasts 5.21 g/L r.s and 6.29 g/L total acidity. Drinking window: now-2026

2018 Riesling     Alsace                                                           91

Pale yellow-green. Bright aromas of lime and lemon verbena. Then juicy but pliant, with aromatic herb and spice nuances complicating the apple and lime fruit flavours. Closes with a touch of powdered rock and good persistence. At 3.9 g/L r.s. and 5.68 g/L total acidity this tastes fairly dry and taut. Pair it with oysters and you won’t look back. Drinking window: now-2026

2018 Riesling Kitterlé Alsace                                                        90

Good straw colour. Mint and anise dominate on the nose and in the mouth, where some late-hitting rochard fruit notes help contrast the herbal presence. The aftertaste is clean, fresh and saline. Less sweet than their 2018 Riesling Saering, but each of these simple, easygoing wines will have its share of fans. Drinking window: now-2028

2018 Riesling Saering Alsace                                                        90

Good pale yellow-green. Lime, underripe pineapple and crushed rocks on the nose. Juicy acidity gives a pungent quality to the suave apple and pineapple flavours. Finishes with citrussy acidity (a link to the Oligocene limestone of the Saering’s soil), this is yet another very easy to like, well-balanced (5.21 g/L r.s. and 6.29 g/L total acidity), simple, easygoing Riesling from Dirler-Cadé in 2018. Drinking window: now-2028

2018 Riesling Spiegel      Alsace                                           92

Vibrant straw-green. Aromas of lime, mint, jasmine and custard. Rich and dense, with good flesh and tannic spine, but at the same time attractively supple and fruit-driven with good persistence. Compared to Dirler-Cadé’s 2018 Rieslings from the Kitterlé and the Saering, this is a positively massive wine tat will need to be celalred for a few years before it will be ready to show all it has to offer (“A marathon runner, not a sprinter” is how Jean Dirler characterized it, teling me the wine fermented especially slowly and that it had trouble digesting all of its sugar – the grapes were so ripe at time of harvest and so packed with sugar that the yeasts weren’t able to srvive). This clocks in at a reasonable 5.69 g/L r.s. and 5.62 g/L total acidity (Dirler ended up putting it through malo so the wine tastes much rounder than it would have otherwise). Drinking window: now-2029

2018 Riesling Kessler Alsace                                                          90

Good full golden-tinged yellow. Exotic aromas of ginger, smoke and orchard fruit. Fat and in a softer style than the estate’s other Grand Cru Rieslings. Then rich and ripe in the mouth too, with flavours of lichee, quince and nutmeg. Clsoes long wth a welcome wave of floral freshness building at the back. I wasn’t so thrilled by this wine, which though certainly good, I found just this side of  little boring in its big-boned delivery of ripe fruit with little nuance and complexity, but it is well balanced (5.21 g/L r.s. and 5.77 g/L total acidity). Maybe it’s just me, but in the Kessler I just like Gewurztraminer and Sylvaner a lot more. Drinking window: now-2026

2018 Riesling Kessler Heisse Wanne Alsace                                             93

Bright pale yellow-gold. Aromas of yellow fruits and lichee, with suggestions of dried pineapple and honey. Then supple but also delicate, hiding its noteworthy volume well while offering an enticing combination of exotic fruits and fresh citrus fruit on the long bright finish. The numbers say that this has 7.99 g/L r.s and 5.69 g/L total acidity, but the palate tells you it’s much more penetrating than the 2018 Rielsing Kessler from this estate (the Heisse Wanne is a piece of  prime vineyard real estate located in the heart of the Kessler Grand Cru) and that it’s also purer and longer. Drinking window: now-2031

2018 Pinot Gris Schimberg Alsace                                                      94

Deep straw yellow. Nteas of maple syrup, caramelized poached pears and honedew melon on the ripe, sweet, fruity nose. Rich and round on entry, then sweet and spicy in the middle, with a building licorice and herbal quality on the long suave finish. This ought to work remarkably well with boiled white meats accompanied by carrots and potatoes. With 8.17 g/L r.s and only 5.52 g/L total acidity this doesn’t really come across as classicallly dry, but it’s not really that sweet either because of a noteworthy savoury component. Outstanding Pinot Gris, in the rich style that Alsace does so well, like nowhere else in the world. Drinking window: now-2028

2018 Pinot Gris Kessler Alsace                                                    93

Deep, bright golden yellow. Herbs (fennel especially) and orchard fruit (both fresh and in compote) aromas and flavours. Smoothly textured and ripe, but with just enough acidity to keep this singing along your taste buds on the long sultry finish. A very hot year, so not surprisingly the grapes were packed with sugar; hence, fermentation sputtered and ultimately the wine failed to reach complete dryness. Though doubtlessly sweet, this is not cloying (25.25 g/L r.s. and 4.68 g/L total acidity). Drinking window: now-2026

2018 Pinot Gris Bux Vendanges Tardives Alsace                             93

Good full yellow. Ripe aromas of lemon and butter, complemented by cinnamon apple pie and ripe strawberry liqueur. Sweet, fruity and thick but lifted (4.83 g/L total acidity), with ripe acids framing the flavors of soft sweet citrus fruit and peach. Broad and supple, this leaves a lasting impression of sweetness (87.63 g/L r.s.) on the bright, sexy finish. About 15% of the grapes were hit by noble rot (some were aired-dried too). Drinking window: now-2028

2018 Gewurztraminer Saering Alsace                                         93

Bright yellow. On the nose, this is a real spice smorgasbord: cumin, ginger, lemongrass and white pepper complement ripe orchard fruit aromas. Enters syrupy but fresh (18.7 g/L r.s. and  3.87 g/L total acidity), and dare I say (write) it, very “Gewurztraminery” (you know what I mean). Finishes classically dry and pure, not to mention long, and with repeating spicy nuances. Drinking window: now-2029

2018 Gewurztraminer Spiegel Alsace                                                 92

Deep yellow. Reticent but fresh nose hints at spice and sweet tropical fruit. Then similar flavours to the aromas, but with an underlying green tinge that provides freshness that the estate’s other 2018 Gewurztraminers lack a little this year. Conveys very good depth of yellow fruits and floral oils finishing long and very sweet (82.37 g/L r.s. and 3.9 g/L total acidity) with a note of Chartreuse. This is a Vendanges Tardives in  everything but name only. Drinking window: now-2029

2018 Gewurztraminer Kitterlé Vendanges Tardives Alsace                          94

Green-tinged golden yellow colour. Highly perfumed nose offers rose petals, musky lime, ginger, quinine, and sweet spices. Juicy and well-delineated, with lovely lift in the mouth, this is broad but not heavy. The long aftertaste is very crystalline (the conglomerate soils of this grand cru play a large role here), but also nicely spicy and fairly sweet, but balanced (92.56 g/L r.s. and 4.12 g/L total acidity).

2018 Gewurztraminer Kessler Vendanges Tardives Alsace                                 95

Vibrant deep golden yellow. Brooding, subtly perfumed aromas of honey, pear, smoked meats and superripe yellow plum, complicated by smoky botrytis. Boasts similar flavours to the aromas. A massive wine, rich, sweet (100.9 g/L r.s.)  and very dense, with more sheer size and texture than nuance or complexity right now. Lingers nicely on the bright fresh, nicely lifted finish thanks to harmonious acidity (3.8 g/L total acidity).

2018 Gewurztraminer Spiegel Vendanges Tardives Alsace                                  93

Pale golden yellow: this is much lighter in colour than the other Gewurzes I tasted at the estate this year. It is also fresher than the other Gewurzes, though it is still a very and dare I say appropriately sweet late harvest wine (96.11 g/L r.s buffered by 4.31 g/L total acidity). The aromas and flavours of fresh citrus fruits, floral oils and honey have a bittersweet edge and noteworthy lift thanks to cooler microclimate of this section of the Spiegel, and that impacts heavily on how the Gewurztraminer variety will behave. Drinking window: now-2030

2018 Gewurztraminer Spiegel Sélection de Grains Nobles Alsace                       95

Bright medium golden orange-yellow. Intensely perfumed with rose petal and cinnamon aromas on the nose. Then sweet and luscious, with the ripe tropical fruit and sweet spice flavours lifted nicely by ripe acids and a floral component. Very clean and pure, with a creamy, rich and dense mouthfeel but also fresh and suave on the long, violet-accented finish. Boasts a whopping 156.50 g/L r.s. and 4.3 g/L total acidity; about 45% of the grapes were hit by noble rot. Drinking window: now-2034


2019      Gentil   Alsace                                                           90

Limpid straw yellow. Lemon and orange oil on the nose. Juicy, fresh, dry and nicely focused; lean but with good flavor intensity, this is a simple but very pretty wine that will make a splendid aperitif. Finishes vibrant, medium-long and persistent. In 2019, the production was half that of the 2018 vintage. Drinking window: now-2024

2018      Gentil   Alsace                                                         90

Bright straw-green colour. Aromatic nose combines orange blossom and honey You can tell there was more Gewurtraminer than usual this year in the blend). Tender, gentle and fruit-driven, with flavours of apricot and peach and a faint stony quality. With its rather soft acidity, this comes as immediately enjoyable and ready to go. In 2018, not just the percentage of Gewurz was increased but that of the so-called “noble grapes” too, from 51% to 70%. The wine is excellent given it’s an entry-level wine of sorts. Drinking window: now-2023

2018      Pinot Blanc Alsace                                             89

Made by co-fermenting roughly 60% Pinot Blanc and 40% Auxerrois. The crop was high but the total acidity did not drop, and so the wine is fresh and floral, with aromas and flavours of honey, beeswax, stone fruit and beeswax. The aftertaste is fresh and easygoing, if perhaps not the last word in length. Drinking window: now-2026

2019      Riesling Alsace                                                   91

Medium bright straw yellow. Fresh nose of green apple, pineapple, jasmine, and crushed stone. Vibrant and juicy in the mouth, with good intensity to its stone fruit and pineapple flavors. A flinty quality firms and extends the finish and provides this lovely wine with real lift. Made with roughly 40% bought grapes (but some declassified Schoenenbourg Grand Cru grapes too). Drinking window: now-2026

2018      Riesling Alsace                                                   88

Pale, lively yellow. Honey, resin and and earth tones on the nose, but this could use more lift. Ripe and smooth on entry, with flavors of lime, earth and petrol in the middle and extending nicely on the medium-long finish. A much bigger and dense wine than its 2019 counterpart from Hugel, but ultimately a little flabby and soft and lacks a little distinction. Like in 2019, this was made with roughly 40% bought grapes but with some declassified grapes from the Schoeenenbourg grand cru too. Drinking window: now-2025

2017      Riesling Estate Alsace                                              92

Vivid straw yellow. Chlorophyll and cilantro on the penetrating nose. Rich and ripe but vibrant, this is very pure, long and perfumed on the lemon verbena and tequila-accented finish. All estate grapes, 60-70% of which are from the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg. The 2017 vintaghe weather is not one the Hugel’s will remember fondly: Horrible spring frosts (one of the worst cases Marc Hugel told me he had ever seen, cause huge crop loss, made worse by hail during harvest (which brought about another loss of 33%). For all that bad luck, this is one of the ebst Riesling Estate wines Hugel as ever made. Drinking window: now-2028

2017     Riesling Grossi Laue Alsace                                    93

Crystalline straw green hue. Ripe aromas of peach, ginger, minerals and lemon verbena. Dense, minerally and intensely flavored, with a strong tannic spine and very good precision and minty cut. Ripe but quite lively and fresh, this has excellent palate presence. Finishes with lingering fresh fruit and mineral flavours. Drinking window: 2024-2032

2012      Riesling Grossi Laue Alsace                                                  93

Pale yellow. Highly complex and clean aromas and flavours of lemon, crushed stone and violet. Then juicy, tight and sharply delineated, with fresh, classically dry, mineral-driven flavours of lemon, lime and mint, with ahint of talcum powder lurking in the background. Closes long and refined. At Hugel they are actually selling the 2013 first (a wine in which all the Schoelhammer grapes went into, so it’s even better than expected) because it’s more open and forward compared to the still fairly closed 2012. Broad yet restrained, this really will need time in a good cold cellar, to allow the piercing, long, clean, fresh chamomile and mint aromas and flavours to show all they got to give. Drinking window: now-2034

2011      Riesling Schoelhammer Alsace                                             94

Bright, green-tinged straw yellow colour. Lime, quinine and mint on the nose, but that takes on riper notes of pastry and custard cream with aeration. Boasts very good inner-mouth perfume and nice delineation, with slightly dumbed down sweetness, so much so that a slightly bitter twinge emerges on the long suave finish. The seamless texture is a marvel but with the lowest total acidity of the last 30 years. They are releasing this before the 2010 which is much more closed. Drinking window: now-2033

2010     Riesling Schoelhammer Alsace                                      96

Bright straw green. White flowers, peach, minerals on the very floral nsoe. Then clean  and long, not to mention  fresh and boastng pristine lemon verbena, gin, tequila, mint and aromatic herbs, as well as rocks and spices. Very shut down currently, this extremely long wine is very mineral-drive. Though the 2009 was surprisingly good given the characteristics of the year, this wine is even better. Drinking window: now-2040

2019      Pinot Gris Alsace                                                      91

Bright straw colour. Orange blossom, pear and a suggestion of ripe apricot. Fresh, mineral and spicy, with lovely perfectly ripe fruit character. Long, lively finish is very clean and lemony, while also featuring a curious Speyside Single Malt note. You might say this is the ideal Pinot gris for Whisky lovers, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Drinking window: 2024-2029

2018      Pinot Gris Alsace                                                      92

Lively pale straw yellow with golden tinges. Ripe but fresh aromas of apple pie and orchard fruit. Then round, creamy and soft, but with very good juiciness to its pleasant, sweet apple pie and pear notes. Closes long with a fleshy quality. This is really quite good. Drinking window: now-2027

2017      Pinot Gris Grossi Laue Pflostig Alsace                                      93

Good full yellow. Subtle, fresh aromas of pear, apple, apricot, and smoke, with a little spice and butter in the background for added interest. Then slightly fat and full, rich and dense but a little chunky and monolithic presently. Happily kept firm and fresh by harmonious balancing acidity, this closes long and ripe with obvious nuances of caramel nuances. The Pflostig is a late ripening lieu-dit (usually grapes there ripen a month later than they do on the Sporen) that gives some very interesting wines. My terroir-loving readers ought to take note of the fact that Hugel decided to bottle the Pflostig grapes separately from the Sporen ones in 2017, while in the more difficult 2016 vintage they wisely decided to blend them together in a single bottling. You recognize the know-how and skill level of wineries by decisions such as these; and it’s no accident that Hugel is a world-class quality leader in wine. Drinking window: 2024-2030

2017      Pinot Gris Grossi Laue Sporen Alsace                                               94

Now this is beautuful! One sip and you immediately realize what the words “grand cru” really mean (or they should mean). The Sporen is one of Alsace’s greatest vineyards, check that, one of the world’s greatest vineyards (it’s almost unmatched for Gewurztraminer) but planting Pinot Gris in the right sections of it can also deliver a magical wine. Bright good full yellow. Superripe aromas of pear, apple sauce, cinnamon, wet stoines and truffley underbrsh, with a dusting of minerals just for good measure. Then big time fleshy wine that is still yothfully rich and ripe and surprisngly sweet for a Hugel wine; this will need time to digest the sugar it is still holding onto. Closes  long and lovely, though just a smidge more acidity wouldn’t have done it a lick of harm. This pretty wine will not go on sale for some time yet, given that Hugel is still selling or going to sell their 2013, ‘14 and ’15 bottlings from this site. Drinking window: 2024-2032

2012      Pinot Gris Grossi Laue Alsace                                93

Vibrant golden-tinged yellow. Aromas and flavours of ginger, pepper, lemon ice, apple, pear  and aromatic herbs. Nice density and flesh and a long suave finish make this a lovely mouthful of wine that will actually stand up very well to light white emat dishes as well. Now, if you were me and approach wine like I do, you might say this embodies the qualities of both Pflostig and the Sporen. If you are not me, and you are not, you can just go ahead and guzzle this beauty away for this really is an irresistible, outstanding Pinot Gris wine indeed. Well done. Drinking window: 2024-2032

2018      Gewurztraminer Alsace                                           89

Bright yellow. Clean, fresh, perfumed aromas of orange blossom and ripe citrus fruit. Bright and juicy in the mouth too, this is not particularly explosive for a Gewurz, but is nicely spicy and firm-edged. This rather restrained wine finishes fresh and moderately tannic, and may well appeal to those who usually find Gewurztraminer to be too much of a good thing. Drinking window: now-2027

2017      Gewurztraminertraminer Estate Alsace                                     92

Now we are talking, helloooooo Gewurz! One whiff of this and there is no way you’ll find yourself thinking there is anything else in your glass but Gewurztraminer; this is just so typical of the variety and wine! Bright yellow colour, smoked meat and roasted tropical fruit on the nose, then rich and suave flavours of tropical fruit and sweet spices coat the palate on the long ripe finish. An extremely typical Sporen Gewurz, there is nothing quite like it. Drinking window: now-2028

2013      Gewurstraminer Grossi Laue Alsace                                   91

Good full yellow. Aromas and flavours of blood orange, cinnamon, lemon, gava and lychee. Nicely tactile and lively in the mouth, this finishes long and suave, with noteworthy salinity and licorice notes. This very pretty  wine is perhaps juist a little broad and soft at the back but people will love this. A can’t miss choice with any roast poultry dish, but will do just fine with that tuna steak and mango-pepper chutney you might have your eye on. Drinking window: now-2028

2017      Gewurztraminer Grossi Laue Alsace                                          92

Vibrant yellow with golden tinges. Lemon ice and lime powder duke it out with cinnmaon, ripe pear, baked apple and quince on the nose and in the mouth. Very fresh and lively for such a rich, dense wine, this is just gorgeous on the long sultry finish. Drinking window: 2024-2030

2017      Pinot Noir Classic Alsace                                                            90+

Bright red-ruby. Simple fresh red cherry and smoky notes emerge on the nose and in the mouth. Nicely juicy and very light on its feet, Jean-Francois Hugel told me they vinifed this almost like a white wine, with very little extraction to speak of (not the wrong tactic in a vintage like 2017). Will undoubtedly show better in 2-3 years time, and as this isn’t going on sale anytime soon, it’s safe to say it will be just so when people do get a chance to taste it eventually. Drinking window: 2024-2031

2017      Pinot Noir Grossi Laue Alsace                                              92

Good deep red. Earth tones and flint complement spicy red berries on the nose. Offers lovely subtle sweetness of fruit and substantial volume (not unheard of in 2017) with similar flavours to the aromas. Closes with very good persistence and a noteworthy tannic edge. Grossi Laue means  “prestigious location” and thios is in fact made with grapes from the Pflostig lieu-dit, which can be thought of as the prolongation of the Rosenbourg. Only 2 weeks maceration and lower fermentation temperatures than usual in 2017 (a good move); this is also the first time they used some whole bunches (another good move in 2017). Drinking window: 2025-2034

2013      Pinot Noir Grossi Laue Alsace                                              91

Medium red-ruby. Strawberry, red cherry, cracked black pepper and truffle on the nose. Juicy, intensely flavored and very clean, boasting smooth flavours of candied red fruit, smoke and herbs. The long finishes features fine tannins and lovely lightness of touch, but there is also just the sightest hint of a hard edge; a little more ripe fruit would have taken care of this. Still, this is a really lovely Pinot Noir and I’m stocking up for my own cellar! Drinking window: now-2030

2012      Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives Alsace                            95

Ok folks, and now we get up and clap furiously, for we are in the presence of true greatness. This is a very great Vendanges Tardives, in the style of the 2007 or 2009, but with better balance and greater class than both those two lovely wines. And differently from thsoe two excellent wines, this is made with 100% Sporen grapes, adding a further touch of nobility given that the Sporen is at no worse one of the three greatest sites in which to grow Gewurztraminer in the world. Last but not least, this wine is even betetr than wehen I last wrote about it, back in 2015 when I was still Senior Editor at Vinous. Golden-tinged bright yellow. Sexy, very expressive nose offers grapefruit oil, cinnamon, cured meats, guava and lichee. Sweet (100 g/L r.s.) and luscious with ripe tropical and rochard fruit flavours enlivened by sweet spcie and floral oil notes. Long and suave on the lingering floral finish. A knockout, really. I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but try this with barely cooked large shrimp and cocktail sauce and get ready to be amazed. I mean, amazed. Drinking window: now-2032

2010 Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles R Alsace                                95

Luminous pale golden yellow. Cool aromas of nutmeg, peach and nectarine, with a fresh citrus topnote. Exhilaratingly lively and rich at the same time, the yellow fruit and sweet spice flavors are lush, sweet (about 20 g/L r.s)  and utterly seamless. Closes long with delightful verve (roughly 6.3 g/L r.s.) and terrific lemony noble rot presence, not to mention inner-mouth perfume of brown spice and floral oils. A brilliantly refined late harvest Gewurz that is truly a spherical essence of the variety. Although I still think it could be richer for an SGN, it has put on weight and flesh since I last tasted it in 2015 and 2018 and is drinking beautifully. Back then I had scored it 91+ (the + sign means the wine can gain 2-4 points in the years to come with adequate cellaring) and this is certainly the case here. Drinking window: now-2040

2010 Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles S Alsace                              98

Very pale golden yellow colour. Tangy aromas of roasted apricot, yellow peach, saffron, guava, mango and honey. Sweet, rich and dense in the mouth, with a wonderfully round, glyceral and seamless texture. Offers amazing concentration of flavour and an almost confectionery sweetness of tropical and orchard fruits enlivened by strokes of marmelady botrytis. Superb balance and downright sexy, this luscious sweet wine is magically balanced and lingers forever on your palate and in your memory cells. In the past I had tried a bottle that must have been off, or affected by cork taint of some kind, but there is no doubt that this time around this is nothing short of exceptional. Drinking window: now-2045

2008      Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles S Alsace                                       98

Deep golden-amber yellow. Very rich aromas of dried and candied fruits, apple butter, pear nectar, strawberry jelly, truffles, aromatic herbs, smoke and vanilla custard on the captivating nose. Incredibly concentrated and sweet, with truly unctuous sweet orchard fruit and sweet spice flavours lifted by brilliant acids. Finishes with extraordinary persistence, clarity and cut; a monumental wine that is very powerful, multilayered and seamless, not to mention memorable. Drinking window: now-2036

2019     Riesling Schoenenbourg Vin de Paille Alsace                                           97

Dark yellow-amber brown. Looks and feels like motor oil, with an amazing viscosity and density of apple, raisin, fig and sweet spice aromas and flavours nicely framed by orange marmelade and lemon custard. Finishes long with captivating echoes of caramel and spicy butter tarts. This spent one month on straw canes to air-dry, and in the end it took about 800 kilos of grapes to make just 100 litres of wine. Drinking window: now-2035


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata