As I’ve hinted at many times, Gewurztraminer isn’t always a guaranteed winner with me – sometimes it’s glorious, but sometimes it doesn’t quite sit right – some of the elements out of kilter. When the DNS Wine Club met recently for an all-Alsace tasting, two Gewurz were the value-for-money and money-no-object winners of the night – much to everyone’s surprise!
Sipp Mack Gewurztraminer Vieilles Vignes 2012 (13.5%, €24.00 Mitchell & Son)
Sipp-Mack has been a favourite producer of mine for several years, and one I was able to visit when over in Hunawihr a few years ago. Their Rosacker Grand Cru Riesling is a regular tipple at Ely – the whole range has great depth of flavour. At the time this wine was made the winery was “in conversion” to organic practices, and are now certified.
The helpful label on the back describes the sweetness of this wine as “medium” – and at 51 g/L of residual sugar it would never be mistaken for dry. It’s one of the most remarkably balance Gewurz I’ve ever had – lots of lychee, floral and ginger flavours from the old vines but also acidity to balance that sweetness. This is as good as some of the Grand Cru Gewurz wines I’ve had from other producers – a veritable bargain.
Léon Beyer Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 1998 (13.5%, €39.90 Léon Beyer)
I happened across the little shop front of Léon Beyer after buying several cases from Domaine Bruno Sorg in the same village of Eguisheim. Leaving my wife in a souvenir shop I dashed through the wines open for tasting. “The house style is dry” said the lady at the counter, “apart from the sweet wines”. Although this might sound like nonsense, of course she was referring to the Vendanges Tardives (late harvest) and Sélection de Grains Nobles (botrytised grapes) dessert wines. The dry wines were indeed dry, and lovely, but this late harvest wine really stood out.
Opening an 18 year old wine does leave you a bit on edge, but I needn’t have worried – it was magnificent. And so fresh! It didn’t taste in the slightest bit tired. The Léon Beyer website give a drinking window of 10 to 20 years from vintage, but this tasted like it had another decade left at least. Some measure of the wine’s rarity can be garnered from the fact that only 4 more vintages have been produced since the 1998.
Although not cheap at around €40 (for 750ml) in France, this wine was jaw-droppingly good. If I’d had another bottle I might have been mugged for it by the rest of the wine club!