Monday, November 01, 2010

No Apologies if you drink Sweet Wine from Alsace!

Recently a number of websites and blogs proclaimed that the wine industry owed an apology to sweet wine drinkers.
The headline from Wine read as follows:
"How Sweet it is: Wine Industry Owes Sweet Wine Drinkers HUGE Apology!" Huge apology? Give me a break!
Harpers Wine & Spirit told us 'Sweet wine drinkers can be best tasters' But when Jancis Robinson's column told us we're all wrong, I wanted to put in my own thoughts.
Tim Hanni's statement:
'glaring errors in understanding by the wine industry have led to the disenfranchisement of millions of consumers and the loss of market share to other beverages' is in my opinion a misleading, headline seeking remark. If sweet white zin is your drink, nobody is stopping you from keeping it your go to wine. No need to say 'Forgive me Father, for I have Zinned'. And there is plenty of it out there.
Furthermore this is hardly a scientific study. It was based on analyzing 1500 'online' questionnaires looking for potential judges for the Lodi Consumer Wine Awards. Come on Mr. Hanni and company you can do better than that.
Now here is a bit of real research that may be worth a second look. At least by those who do not like the bitter taste of tannins in their wine. And nobody is suggesting we should apologize for looking down on those wine drinkers who like their wines less tannic and bitter. That pretty picture is a slide of lung taste receptors. Yes, that's right 'lung taste receptors'.
Dr.Liggett, a pulmonologist,
(and I am not pulling your leg, that is what he is) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and his team, found taste receptors in the lung that react to bitter compounds. Well now isn't that interesting. Perhaps we can now add lung observations to our tasting notes. Such as: 'I found the tannins in that Cabernet overpowering and I experienced a third degree cough'.
Now back to reality. I guess the sweet wine producers in Alsace are more than willing to share their sweet, lush Vendanges Tardives and Selections de Grains Nobles. No one will need to apologize to you for loving every single last drop of them.
On my recent visit to Alsace I had the pleasure of meeting Samuel Tottoli, the outstanding winemaker at the Kuentz-Bas Estate
A big thanks to Lucas De Jong, owner of the Hotel Husseren les Chateaux where I stayed during my last visit, for introducing me to Samuel. Samuel arrived at the winery in 2004 and has made great changes. As of the 2007 vintage Kuentz-Bas is certified organic. The great advantage in Alsace is, that mainly due to the calcareous/limestone soils, the grapes can attain high levels of natural acidity. And during this tasting I found out what an amazing influence that has on the wines.
Lucas, outside the Caveau de Degustation (tasting room) of the Kuentz-Bas winery. And always busy but never too busy to take time out to share his marvelous wines, that is Samuel. I was wrong every time when Samuel asked me to guess what the residual sugar levels were in some of the wines we tasted. That is picture of my notes and the 2007 Pinot Gris Trois Chateau . I have a notation calling it 'the pineapple express" Again I missed the residual of 34 grams on that one due to the amazing acidity.

So in closing this post let me say to all you sweet wine lovers out there, you haven't lived until you taste some of the delicious sweet wines from Alsace.

Me? I will stay with their big, bright, crisp, dry wines with that wonderful minerality and of course you can never get enough of their Cremants. As always, click on the pics to get a close up view. Next up is some bubbly talk and a great picture of a sabering gone wrong!
Cheers and happy drinking for now.

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