For Alsace fans like myself Riesling is usually the pinnacle of any producer’s portfolio, and if they make one (or more) from a Grand Cru vineyard, then even better. One thing to note, though, is that many producers do not make exactly the same type of wine at both quality levels; rather, there is sometimes a deliberate stylistic difference, which can be even more amplified by vintage variation and adaptive wine making.
Thanks to Cases Wine Warehouse I recently tasted a couple of lovely Alsace Rieslings which illustrated that point perfectly. The producer was one I wasn’t that familiar with previously – Domaine Charles Baur. However, I am quite familiar with their home village of Eguisheim (pictured above) which is the stunning setting for several excellent producers, including Domaine Bruno Sorg who I have visited a few times.
Eguisheim counts two Grand Cru vineyards close by, Eichberg and Pfersigberg. These sites were first included in Grand Cru wines from 1972 but, there were no references to them on the label. These lieux-dits weren’t officially adopted until 1983, and finally as AOCs in their own right in 2011.
Domaine Charles Baur “Cuvée Charles” Riesling 2012 (€19.45, Cases Wine Warehouse)
Although not a Grand Cru this is a premium bottling, ahead of the standard Riesling (which I haven’t tasted). It’s pale as you’d expect, with fresh citrus notes on the nose. The palate has lots of concentration, zingy lemon and lime. The finish is dry, emphasised by the acidity that runs through the wine. Very pleasant to drink on its own, but would partner well with seafood.
Domaine Charles Baur Grand Cru Eichberg Riesling 2013 (€26.95, Cases Wine Warehouse)
More of the same? Sort of… It has more body, more residual sugar, more concentrated flavours, but they come together to make a more rounded, deeper wine. This is still a total baby and is showing primary fruit right now, but should continue to develop over the next decade or so. With the extra body and sweetness this would pair fabulously with mild to medium spiced Asian food.