Of all the French wine regions, Alsace (ALL sass) is the easiest to understand. Unlike other regions, it labels its bottles by varietal name, making the selection — and pronunciation — less problematic. Alsace’s aromatic grapes Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer [geh-VERTS-trah-mee-ner], sound German because Alsace formed part of its pre-World War I land holdings. Because of this history, people frequently confuse Germany’s often-syrupy Rieslings with Alsace’s dry white wines (they grow very little red wine because of the cold climate). And its Pinot Gris – called Pinot Grigio to the south – are often softer, more fragrant and fuller-bodied than Grigios. Wines from Alsace are rarely bottled under the winery name, but Zind Humbrecht is an exception. A family-owned winery, they were established in the 1950s.
I’m a rabid fan of Zind Humbrecht wines. They aren’t particularly cheap but always worth every penny. This 2009 Pinot Gris is absolutely gorgeous. Light-bodied and as fragrant as a summer day in a fruit tree meadow. Intense aromas of apricots, pears, honey and wet stone minerality follow through on the tongue, but it stays dry and tartly acidic all the way through. The fragrance might suggest sweetness — and it almost tastes sweet — but it pulls a switcheroo. It was the most popular wine I served at a recent VinoVersity wine class.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Price: $24 – $26
Occasion: Tasted at a wine bar in Tampa, Florida.
Availability: High end wine shops.
In Tampa, you can find it at Cru Cellars.
Food pairing: Fresh goat cheeses, Asian cuisine