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Bordeaux, Alsace

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Bordeaux



Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.

The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.

On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.

Styles
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.

Grapes

White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot

Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Favourite Producers
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
 



Alsace

 Nestled behind the Vosges Mountains the Alsace region is one of France's driest and a lovely hotbed for organic and biodynamic viticulture on volcanic soils.  History has seen it change hands between Germany and France many times which shows up in the strong Germanic influence in food, architecture and grapes.

Red or White? White wines reign supreme here. Usually dry and savoury, though some can be made in an off-dry style. This is a clear cut region to understand as they usually put the grape variety on the label. There are also two sweeter styles; late picked, vendange tardive and the botrytis infected dessert wine, selections de grains nobles.

Grapes
Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewuztraminer

Style
There's a lovely minerality thread in these wines due to their volcanic soil origins. Smokey wafts and exotic fruits are on full display in youth. Over time they develop a honeyed richness. Some wines may have a richer mid-palate and can be off-dry in style.

Favourite Producers
Marcel Deiss, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine Ostertag, Paul Blank

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  1. Prince Estivac Blanc de Blanc NV
    Prince Estivac Blanc de Blanc NV
    While there is no doubt Alsace is well known for its aromatic white varietals it is probably not as well known as the steward of great sparkling. Well, this little drop will change your mind. This doesn't try to be Champagne and it's all the better for it. The aim is to produce a clean, fun and delicious sparkling that nods to its home in Alsace but overdelivers in quality, and it has that in spades!

    This is sensational value, made from Pinot Blanc and Riesling in a traditional method. Nashi pear and green apple with hints of lime. Cumquat, apple, zesty citrus lead in the mouth to a long finish. Excellent little wine and you would be just as happy popping this for a toast as you would cracking it at a BBQ to get the party started.
    NV
    chardonnay, Pinot Blanc
    France
    343
  2. Hugel Gentil 2019
    Hugel Gentil 2019
    Such a friendly and convivial blended dry white, this has so much upfront, floral appeal (orange blossom and roses), juicy fruit, generous body and just enough acidity to keep it bright at the finish. Drink now. JAMES SUCKLING

    Drink now!? You don't have to tell us twice James! This is always such a delicious wine and if there was wine that represented what Hugel do and how well they do it, the Gentil would do it with aplomb.

    Famille Hugel was established in 1639 by Hans Ulrich Hugel and is one of the regions most loved producers and largest landholders with in excess of 120 hectares of vineyards to their name. Situated in Riquewihr the estate has over the years built an enviable reputation for the consistency and quality of its wines.
    2019
    White Blend
    France
    343
  3. Trimbach Reserve Riesling 2018 375ml
    Trimbach Reserve Riesling 2018 375ml
    Trimbach is at the summit of dry white winemaking. CLIVE COATEDS M.W.

    With viticultural origins going back to 1626 this family owned estate produces some of the finest wines not only of Alsace, but indeed the entire world of wine. Around the villages of Ribeauvillé and Hunawihr, the Trimbach family owns 57 hectares of vineyards from some of the most famed sites in the region. 

    The reserve wines are sourced from rigorously selected grapes grown in and around Ribeauville and surrounding villages. They are fermented dry and text book example of classic Alsace fair.

    Quince, pear and apple with a touch of mandarin open to an exotic and layered nose. There is a touch of lime zest and white pepper folded into the soft fruits. The clean pristine fruit is sliced down the middle of the palate with a racy, tight quartz-mineral core. On the close the palate shifts toward more tropical notes and a sense of opulence that is kept in check by a dry and mineral finish. PWS
    2018
    Riesling
    France
    343
  4. Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    Chai Saint Etienne Tradition Rouge 2016
    60% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Côt
    The Coteaux du Quercy AOC is one of France smallest wine region with only 400 hectares and less than 20 growers. It lies between Cahors & Gaillac. After the Phylloxera, the Quercy, once 50 000 hectares was almost destroyed. Roger Gisbert and his brave mates started their appellation from scratch. With high draining slopes of white clay and limestone soils, Cabernet Franc was chosen to blend with the Merlot, and off course the Cot (aka. Malbec) replanted on the rocky soils. The grapes are harvested and sorted, then fallow slow and gentle traditional fermentation.
    2016
    Cabernet Franc, Merlot
    France
    356
  5. Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Turckheim 2018
    Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Turckheim 2018

    Zind Humbrecht is one of the unquestioned kings of aromatic whites. His ceaseless drive to create the worlds greatest examples of his varieties is nothing short of remarkable as are the resulting offerings. A devoted proponent of Biodynamics, a gifted presenter and communicator and a towering figure of modern wine, the first Frenchman to be awarded the MW (International Master of Wine) he has justifiably earned his reputation as one of legends of modern wine.

    The Tuckheim Range is the value tier and represents classic Alsace whites from a regional blend of grapes as well as estate fruit.

    An exuberant Gewurztraminer with roses, lilies and lychee ploughing out of the glass. Crafted from a blend of the tanks used to top off all the different foudres of Gewurztraminer produced by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, it contains wine from across this estate's vast holdings. The 18 is definitely in a more forward and plush style so expect a rich and opulent styling. Text book stuff! PWS

    2018
    Gewurztraminer
    France
    343
  6. Le Boscq 2019
    Le Boscq 2019

    Saint Estèphe

    Cru Bourgeois

    Purchase En Primeur. Arrival due September 2022.

     

    The 2019 Le Boscq is fabulous. A rush of wild cherry, smoke, licorice, tobacco, incense and scorched earth races across the palate. This deep, flavorful Saint-Estèphe is wonderfully expressive today. I would give the tannins a few years to soften. Le Boscq is a great choice for readers who want to explore the appellation without splurging on some of the bigger names. Antonio Galloni 93

    2019
    Cabernet Blends
    France
    356
  7. Senejac 2015
    Senejac 2015

    The 2015 Senejac is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. It has a pure, black cherry, pastille-like bouquet with touches of melted tar and licorice. The palate is well balanced with dry, rather masculine tannin on the entry, a good line of acidity, fresh and nicely proportioned with cedar and tobacco furnishing the long finish. This is a well-crafted, capable Sénéjac that deserves 5-6 years in bottle, and I expect it to land at the top of my banded score.  NEAL MARTIN
    2015
    Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Merlot
    France
    356
  8. Marcel Deiss Riquewhir 2018
    Marcel Deiss Riquewhir 2018
    This is a richer styled white we're the gris seems to take the initial lead on this riesling dominant blend. There's great depth and flesh, perhaps a result of the deep marl soils in the village. Exotic notes of melon and pear mingle with slate and spice. A tail of riesling takes hold of the juicy and vibrant core, framing the richer mid-palate adding a puckering finish. GABRIELLE POY, PWS
    2017
    White Blend
    France
    343
  9. Marcel Deiss Zellenberg 2018
    Marcel Deiss Zellenberg 2018
    A vivacious expression of the Zellenberg village made from a field blend of pinot blanc, riesling, auxerrois and pinot gris. An alluring and original nose of fennel and toasted sweet and savoury spices leads into a powerful and driving palate. Notes of quince, lemon and wet stones complement the aromas and reassure this is a distinct wine that follows its own rules. This is a remarkable wine where the interplay of earth, fruit and spice is delightful. GABRIELLE POY, PWS
    2017
    White Blend
    France
    343
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