Yesterday the Saturday tasting theme at the shop was wines from the Loire Valley and Alsace. The lineup included 10 wines, including 3 sparkling wines or “Cremants” from both regions. Although the turnout for wines from these areas is generally pretty modest (around 20 peeps) I believe that the folks who come out to taste really appreciate their general finesse, structure and relatively high acid profile. Rarely do such wines get up all in your face, flex their perfectly tuned muscles and scream “Fruit! “Fruit! Look at me! Fruit!” Instead, they are generally more demure, and sometimes even a bit downright “odd “. Example? The 2006 Pinot d’Alsace from Zind Humbrecht –dry and weighty, with notes of apricot, orange peel spice and grapefruit.
However like a great conversationalist at a dinner party, these wines are intriguing, and in certain cases, flat out inspiring. Can one be inspired by a wine? Why not? I have been inspired by more than one animal, vegetable and mineral in my lifetime. Case in point, this gorgeous Buddha’s Hand citron (see above) that I discovered at the market yesterday morning. Freaky cool? Yes, but who, what, when, where and how did this fingery fruit come to be? With origins in northeastern India or China, the powerfully fragrant Buddha’s Hand is redolent of citrus, bien sur, but with a certain spicy quality too, kind of like lemongrass. No wonder it is often used in China and Japan to scent and freshen a room.
Well, this beautifully fresh fragrance stayed with me all day, until I tasted through the Saturday line up and discovered this little gem from Alsace.
Wine: Lucien Albrecht “Cuvee Balthazar”
Composition: 100% Pinot Blanc
Geology/Soil: Clay and chalk
Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports
US Retail: $15
Food: Hamachi Crudo drizzled with olive oil, Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bo Bia),
Grilled snapper, halibut or Walu (a.k.a Hawaiian Butterfish) with citrus marinade.
Light, bright and oh so elegant. With aromatics of bosc pear, white peach and dare I say it, Buddha’s Hand citron? With no discernable oak, bright acidity and a cool creamy mid-palate, the Cuvee Balthazar was absolutely singing on my palate and one of the best pinot blancs that I have tasted in a while. So fresh and so clean! Lucien Albrecht is a sizeable domaine located in the village of Orschwihr, not far from Colmar. The Albrecht family have been continually growing grapes in the region since the early 15th century! The Cuvee Balthazar is named in honor of Balthazar Albrecht, who formally established the domaine in 1698. So inspired was I by this Alsatian gem, that I also picked up a bottle of the Lucien Albrecht sparkling rose. I’ve got a good feeling about this one too, but I leave that for a future post. Stay tuned!