Alsace Wine

Alsace Wine

The Beyer family have been making wine in Alsace since 1580 so are confident of their house style which is, as current patron Marc Beyer explains, "fully-fermented dry wines." A comprehensive tasting in their historic headquarters in Eguisheim last year amply illustrated why their wines are critically-acclaimed and internationally-renowned.

Their popular sparkling Crémant d'Alsace is made from a blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois that is bottle fermented to induce a fine mousse, creamy texture and elegant finish; so makes a perfect pre-prandial primer. Marc, whose faultless English shames our 'factory floor' French, avers that Pinot Blanc is an 'easy' grape to grow and vinify. His fresh and fruity interpretation seemingly testifies to that. His Pinot Gris is more complex and weighty, making a fine foil for tartiflettes and flammekueche whilst the Muscat is redolent of ripe table grapes and partners well with asparagus. The Beyer Riesling is an archetypal example with subtle lime leaf scents, a lovely nervy tension and a persistent dry finish. Their Gewürztraminer is richer, more perfumed and spicier making it well-suited to chilli-infused Asiatic dishes. The only red grape in Alsace is Pinot Noir and the 'Réserve Personelle' bottling has a lovely brick red robe, ripe red fruit scents and flavours, a fresh acidity and delicate tannins. It drinks well from release and is best served lightly chilled.

In favourable vintages, Maison Léon Beyer releases its flagship 'Comtes d'Eguisheim' wines that are collected by connoisseurs and are adorned with ornately illuminated labels. The 2011 Riesling is already showing the benefit of bottle age with diverse dried fruit aromas and a complex palate of orchard fruit and minerals. A sibling Pinot Noir, in the magnificent 2015 vintage, has a bouquet of ripe berries and cherries and concentrated core of red fruit with enough tannic structure to cellar well for a decade.

When the correct climatic conditions prevail, small parcels of sweet 'late-harvest' bottlings are produced and we are delighted to have secured a batch of half-bottles of 'Vendanges Tardives' Gewürztraminer; a richly fruited nectar redolent of honey, preserved citrus peel and spices. It makes a fine partner to cheese or fruit puddings but works equally well as a contemplative post-prandial digestif.

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  1. Alsace: Léon Beyer 'Comtes d'Eguisheim' Pinot Noir 2015
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Alsace Wine Region

Occupying the key strategic territory between the Vosges mountains and the river Rhine, Alsace has changed hands like a passed parcel over the centuries but has remained officially French since the Potsdam Agreement of 1945. The result of this fluid history is a uniquely Rhine-ish identity that can be seen in its culture, architecture, cuisine and wine. Onions, cabbages, potatoes, pork, eggs, cheese and pastry all loom large in the local culinary repertoire, which is complimented to perfection by a diverse range of highly distinctive and aromatic 'single-varietal' wines.

AOC Alsace was created in 1962 (Cremant followed in 1976) and the region mainly produces white wines - 90% of production. 51 Grand Cru sites were formally recognised in 2011, yet even they deliver remarkable value for money.