Monday, January 18, 2016

Alsace Duo From Beck-Hartweg Delights With Crisp Flavors

Alsace is one of our favorite French regions. It produces superior white wines and uses varietal labeling on bottles.

French Wines With A German Spin

You’re not surprised are you? We delight in crisp, clean white wines and dig Riesling. So the French region of Alsace, nestled along with border with Germany, has a warm spot in our hearts.

For a period of almost 50 years, this region was ruled by Germany and the Germanic influence is widespread. While other French appelations make superb Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, it is clear that the best Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pnot Blanc and Gerwurztraminer in France are made in Alsace.

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Beck-Hartweg Winemakers

Florian and Mathidle Beck-Hartweg are organic winemakers in Dambach-La-Ville, Alsace. Damback-La-Ville is located in the middle of the Alsace region and is an old, fortified city with ramparts that date to 1323.

Beck-Hartweg has a family history of winemaking that dates back to 1590. The vineyards are certified organic and special care is given to respect the grapes, the soil and the work of their ancestors.

An Alsacian Wine Dinner

When Green Dragon learned we would be sampling a pair of Alsace wines, she immediately went to work in the kitchen and produced a smashing entree. She cooked up Paprika Shrimp with Citrus and Avocado Salsa served with Saffron-infused Quinoa. Not too shabby!

We opened two bottles of Beck-Hartweg wines, the 2011 Cuvee Prestige Pinot Gris and the 2012 Cuvee Prestige Riesling. One attribute of Alsacian wine that we enjoy is that the wines in general are drier than German wines of the same type. Green Dragon started with the Riesling and I started with the Pinot Gris.

The Pinot Gris offers complex flavors of flowers and crisp fruit. Unlike Pinot Gris from Oregon, the wine was not lush, but more focused. With grapes like Riesling and Pinot Gris, I’m not a fan of oak aging. I think that hides the true expression of the grapes. I was surprised to see that the Pinot Gris and Riesling both spend time in oak barrels. These casks are unique, though. They bring no tannins or oak taste since they are more than 100 years old.

The Cuvee Prestige Riesling was a spot on pairing with the shrimp entree. The shrimp had a bit of spice to it. There is a slight sweetness to the wine that mingles with the acidity and minerality. This played wonderfully against the spiciness of the dish. The wine is elegant with a bit of orange peel and perhaps a whiff of petrol (which is a good thing!).

Each wine retails for under $20 and is a great bargain at that price point. Our recommendation is that the Riesling be paired with dinner or appetizers. The Pinot Gris can stand alone quite well. Fish or poultry will work well, but the Riesling in particular is a good match for spicy Asian food.

Full Disclosure: We received this wine as marketing samples.

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