Alsace & Saint-Emilion Wine Tasting

@孔雀, Jul. 10, 2010

Alsace, located in the northeast of France, very close to Germany. This region integrate Germany and France culture, foods and wines. In Taiwan, many wine lovers only know Alsace has great Gewurztraminer and Riesling, and some may know Pinot Noir from Alsace. However, actually, the major grape varieties are Riesling(21.7%), Gewurztraminer(18.6%), Pinot Gris(15.2%), Auxerrois Blanc[12](14.2%), Pinot Noir(9.6%), Sylvaner(8.9%), Pinot Blanc[12](7.0%), Muscat varieties(2.3%), Chasselas(0.6%), and Others(including Chardonnay and Savagnin, about 2%). Really surprised, Alsace has Pinot Gris.

For the white, red and rose wines made according to AOC regulations can labeled with "Alsace (AOC)". Though, only Riesling, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris from certain vineyards can be labeled "Alsace Grand Cru" (about 4% of the whole productions in Alsace). For sparkling wines from Alsace, we call it Cremant d'Alsace, if it is made according to regulations. Actually, in France, all sparkling wines except those from Champagne are named "Cremant".

Similar to wine classification in Germany, Alsace also has Vendange Tardive (VT) and Selection de Grains Nobles (SGN). VT means "late harvest", or "Spatlese" in Germany. But, in fact, the "must-weight" (or sugar percentage) requirements of VT is similar to "Auslese" in Germany wines. SGN means "selection of noble berries" and refers to wines made from grapes affected by noble rot, quite similar to "Trockenbeerenauslese" (TBA) in Germany wines.

Laguel Pinot Gris 2007 Alsace

The variety is Pinot Gris. In the past, the wine made by Pinot Gris variety in Alsace was named "Tokay d'Alsace". However, "Tokaji" is a sort of dessert wine in Hungary. In 1980, the European Economic Community passed regulations related to Protected designations of origin (PDOs), and when Hungary started negiotiations for European Union membership, it became clear that the Tokay name would have to become a PDO for the Tokaj-Hegyalja region. Therefore, in 1993, an agreement was reached between the Hungary and the European Union to phase out the name Tokay from non-Hungarian wine. In the case of Alsace, Tokay Pinot Gris was adopted as an intermediate step, with the "Tokay" part to be eliminated in 2007.

No malolactic fermentation. Golden yellow. Light honey, peach and litchi sweet. Tangerine, orange and light grapefruit acidity. With a little bit over-ripe apple flavor.

Laguel Muscat 2007 Alsace

Blond with green hue. Not similar to Muscat in Italy. This one still has litchi, grass and honey flavors, but it also has stronger acidity. This one should be served before the Pinot Gris today.

With some jasmine flower smell.

Laguel Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Sporen 2006 Alsace

Sporen is a Grand Cru vineyard. Gold with very light green hue. Banana, rose and perfume noses. Besides of honey sweet, the palate also contains pineapple and light spices' flavors.

Laguel Riesling Grand Cru Steinkoltz 2003 Alsace

Steinkoltz is also a Grand Cru. Blonde color. Concentrated petrol smell. Mineral, oak barrels and maple sugar. Strong acidity. Very balanced Riesling, but should be served before Gewurztraminer due to its stronger acidity.

Saint-Emilion, located in the north bank (well, you can also call it right bank) of Dordogne river. Saint-Emilion is one of the best Bordeaux right bank regions, and most of its soil is limestone or limestone clay, and less siliceous clay and loamy sand (compare to left bank). Merlot is the major variety in this region, about 60%, and then Cabernet Franc (30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).

The classification of Saint-Emilion includes Premier Grand Cru Classe A, Premier Grand Cru Classe B, and Grand Cru Classe. There are 2, 11, and 53 chateaus respectively.

Chateau Yon Saint-Martin 2004 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

The 2nd wine of Chateau Yon-Figeac, which is a Grand Cru Classe in Saint-Emilion region.

Loamy sand vineyard. 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Deep ruby with brown rim.

Wet soil, lether, Chinese spices, mint, dried daylily (金針花), cinamon, and ripe plum. Ready to drink, but the tannin mouthfeel shows this wine can still be kept for a few years.

Chateau Chanoine de Balestard 2001 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

The 2nd wine of Chateau Blestard la Tonnelle, which is a Grand Cru Classe.

The Balestard name came from a monk in mid-age Saint-Emilion. The "La Tonelle" name was origined from the stone tower in the vineyard. In 15th centry, a poet Francois Villon wrote down the histroy and story of this town in her poetry. And this poem is printed on the wine label as a special mark.

Virgin Mary, gentle deity,
Save me a place in sweet heaven:
Never shall I have joy nor gaiety
Here below, since is forbidden
to drink the divine nectar
Whose name is Balestard,
Except in this life for the wealthy.
As I am so poor and needy,
If truly on high this wine is in plenty,
Come, soft death, I do not fear thee,
Bring me up there among the fortunate
Who can this vintage taste.

In 1923, Bertauts-Couture sold this estate to Mr. Berthon. Mr. Berthon let his son-in-law, Roger Capdemourlin, to manage this great Chateau for 30 years, and left this estate to Capdemourlin family after he passed away. Now, Jacques Capdemourling is the manager of this chateau.

70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 3 weeks fermentation in stainless tanks. 15~18 months in old barrels (1~2 yrs old barrels).

Jammy black berries, chocolate, black pepper, plum and black mushrooms. Easy to drink.

Chateau Cap de Mourlin 2003 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Capdemourlin family lived in Saint-Emilion for more than 5 centries (from 1580), and they are famous in Saint-Emilion wine making industry. In 1982, the current manager, Jacques, integrated the separated two parts of this estate which are owned by his father, Roger, and his uncle, Jean, respectively. Jacques also rebuilt the cellar, malolactic fermentation equipments, and tasting room. Nowadays, Chateau Cap de Mourlin and Chateau Balestard are belonged to Capdemourlin family.

Limestone clay, and sliliceous clay.

65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vines are 34 years old in average. Manual harvest, and fermentation in stainless tanks for at least 3 weeks. 50% new oak for malolactic fermentation, and 50% 1-year-old barrel. 15~18 months in barrels for aging process.

Green pepper, black berries, cherries, chocolate. Smooth!

Chateau Balestard la Tonnelle 2001 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe

Same percentages of grape varieties to its 2nd wine. 33 years old vines. Manual harvest. Fermentation in 50% concrete and 50% stainless for at least 3 weeks. 50% new oak for malolactic fermentation, and 50% 1-year-old barrel. 15~18 months in barrels for aging process.

Because Chateau Cap de Mourlin and Chateau Balestard la Tonnelle are managed by Jacques today, the wine making processes of these two chateaus are quite similar.

Dust and dry soil (because of the concrete container for fermentation?). Black berries and black pepper. The taste is very similar to Chateau Cap de Mourlin. However, in my opinion, Chateau Cap de Mourlin tasts sweeter at the beginning, but the acidity at the end is too sharp.