Up in the lofty surrounds of a marble clad tower high above downtown Vancouver, HiredBelly.com’s cutting edge IT department is still grappling with the challenge of how to present our ongoing Belly’s Best wine picks in a timely and easily accessible way. We’ll let you know when they finally get it figured out. (If they don’t soon, heads will roll…) But in the meantime we’re going to increase the number of wine reco’s that show up on these pages by including content from some of our current print columns. Some choices and the order in which they appear may vary but the gist is the same …
It doesn’t take long for spring’s arrival to steer our palates to things white and fresh.
All the more reason to take note of the current Alsace promotion at BC Liquor stores, through April.
Too often overshadowed by France’s celebrated, red wine-dominant regions, Alsace often gets lost in the shuffle. Blame it in part, perhaps, on a past that for centuries saw the region lobbed back and forth between varying forms of French and German or Prussian rule.
A more inland region with less maritime influence, Alsace enjoys the rain shadow created by the Vosges Mountains and an overall drier climate. The cooler conditions see more emphasis on white varietals, that amount to over 90 per cent of the production.
Perhaps more than anywhere else, Alsatian wines are made to be enjoyed with food. You’ll usually find plenty of acidity – and, in the whites at least, you won’t find any oak.
Fourth generation winemaker Hubert Trimbach (whose stellar, mineral-and citrus-toned AOC Riesling, BCLS $29, is also in the program) once said to me “Alsace doesn’t need oak. Our grapes are expressive of the character. We are purists. We believe in the clean aspect of wine grapes – if wine is wooded it’s not clean any more.”
When it comes to culinary prowess, few can compete with this region that’s home to such treats as flammekueche or tarte flambée.
Indeed, Alsatian wines are distinguished by superb fruit expression, bound up with acidity that makes them dynamic food partners, often elegant and shaped by understatement that always allows the fruit to show through.
Here’s a few to put some spring in your kitchen.
– Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer 2009
Viscose and layered, this wine is typical of the style that sets Alsace apart, with honey and citrus notes before hints of minerality and a touch of spice that blossoms when matched with piquant Asian plates; BCLS $25.99.
– Hugel Pinot Blanc 2008
Floral and citrus notes on top with firm acidity through an assertive, dry palate that reflects the cooler vintage. Very clean fruit expression with bright citrus and a crisp, clean close; BCLS $19.99.
– Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2008 – Wine of the Week!
Bright gold in the glass, with seductive stonefruit and honeyed notes on top before a plush, oily complex palate wrapped in luscious tropical tones. It’s all underpinned by clean acidity and mineral hints with a lingering, generous close. Think blue cheese, richly sauced white fish – or foie gras anything; BCLS $33.95.
– Paul Zinck Pinot Blanc 2009
Stonefruit and pear on the nose, followed by a firmly fruited but structured and clean, citrus-toned palate with a gently spicy and zesty close. A perfect sipper or a good match with grilled chicken or pork chops. Screwcap; BCLS $17.99.
– Paul Zinck Crémant Brut
A lively stream of bubbles with orchard fruits on the nose as well as some brioche notes before soft apples and stone fruit notes on the off-dry, mouth-filling palate. A flexible, food friendly and fun bubble that won’t break the bank at BCLS $23.99.