Online Alsace Guide
by Tom Stevenson
Less than 20 years ago, it was impossible to find a dry Muscat that came anywhere near rivalling Muscat d'Alsace. Now there are a few. Not many and scattered in origin, but
they exist. Nevertheless, Alsace remains the only region to have a widespread reputation built on this variety (be it Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains, Muscat Rosé à Petit
Grains or Muscat Ottonel) and is beginning to build a name for late-harvest renditions. Some of the SGN are disgusting, but VT and SGN Muscat are a relatively recent
phenomenon, and most of the earliest examples were just as bad. Furthermore, the number of successes in these styles is greater than I have experienced before,
demonstrating that winemakers are learning from their mistakes.
In a totally dry style, Muscat d'Alsace can be challenging, since its naturally low acidity makes it very difficult for a wine to possess any richness of fruit. However,
a few growers, such as Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, regularly achieve exceptionally high, natural acidity levels in the Muscats they grow.
Alsace Muscat VT 2001 Bernhard Jean-Marc & Frederic (€18)
A late-harvest muscat of exceptional finesse and beautiful botrytised complexity.
Alsace Grand Cru Goldert Muscat 2002 Zind-Humbrecht (€30)
A pale, but slightly deeper colour than most, with fine floral aromas, and hints of peach and orange in the very expressive potpourri of fruit on palate. The exceptional acidity made it obvious that this was a zind-humbrecht wine, despite the blind tasting format.
Alsace Muscat SGN 2001 Bleger Claude (€20)
Orange-gold colour. Extremely bright. Best acidity-fruit balance. Crisp, complex and very sweet, with a long, clean finish.
Alsace Muscat SGN 2000 Engel Fernand Et Fils (€32)
Has one of the best fruit-acidity balances of all the muscat sgns. Very rich, concentrated fruit.
Alsace Grand Cru Steinklotz Muscat SGN 1997 Fritsch Romain (€45.75)
soil: calcaire. Intense muscat aroma, with exceptionally rich and tangy, varietal fruit. Does not cloy. Very sweet.
Alsace Muscat SGN 2000 Barmes-Buecher (€68)
Bright tangerine in colour, with fresh muscat aromas, and as viscous as oil in the mouth. This wine is ridiculously sweet for its low acidity, but it is an amazing wine nonetheless.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Beyer Emile (€5.50)
Pale-straw colour, but slightly deeper than most, with fine floral aromas, followed by very fresh muscat fruit on palate. Classic dry style. Fine quality.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Buecher Paul (€7.10)
The soapy-floral aromas should develop into a more complex bouquet devoid of soapiness over the next 12-24 months. Although only medium-sweet, that is relatively sweet for a generic muscat, and it actually tastes three times as sweet as etienne loew's muscat below, despite containing just one gram extra of residual sugar. Although it would be a much better wine with higher acidity, there is sufficient richness and vitality to win through.
Alsace Grand Cru Marckrain Muscat 2002 Fonne Michel (€10)
soil: marno-calcaire. Light-floral aromas. Medium-sweet, flowery fruit. Good balancing acidity. Nice and fresh.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Ginglinger Pierre Henri (€5.80)
Fuller, firmer style of floral muscat, yet does not lack a certain elegance, and tastes a lot drier than its proclaimed 7.4g/l residual sugar. Dry. Well balanced.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Koehly Jean-Marie (€5.80)
Attractive, elegant, expressively floral muscat.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Meyer Alfred Et Fils (€5.50)
Fresh, floral aromas; delicious, easy-drinking floral-muscat fruit. Over 5g/l but effectively tastes dry.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Rentz Edmond (€6.30)
Fresh floral aromas; soft flowery fruit, creamy-soft finish. Dry.
Alsace Muscat Clos St Landelin SGN 2001 Mure Rene
Almost samos muscat nose and initial fruit, this light-gold coloured sgn suffers from a lack of acidity, and although that is normal for the variety, an sgn is supposed to be exceptional, and should increase in acidity through dehydration or botrytis.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Beck Francis (€4.70)
Definitely more for the table (with asparagus) than an aperitif in style, but could be more varietally expressive. Off-dry to medium-dry.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Dirler-Cade (€7.80)
1st bottle: unclean. 2nd bottle: fresh and flowery, but a dry, low-acid wine such as muscat needs more fruit impact on the finish to rise above the norm.
Alsace Muscat Altenbourg SGN 2000 Mann Albert (€45)
The palest of the muscat sgns, this pale-gold coloured wine has fresh floral aromas and intensely sweet, muscat fruit on the palate. However, the aftertaste is a bit sugary and cloying.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Stentz Andre (€6.90)
Nice and floral, with grape-skin muscat fruit on the palate. Creamy finish. A crossover between table and aperitif. Medium-dry.
Alsace Muscat Lieu-Dit Dorfburg 2002 Cave Vinicole Jean Geiler (€5.40)
Fuller grape-skin-muscat aroma, but rather basic aromas. Could develop, but very few muscat do, thus scored on today's performance.
alsace grand cru froehn muscat 2002 becker j.phil. & francois (€10.30)
soil: argilo-marneux. Light, dry, with a little floweriness on the finish.
Alsace Muscat Les Marnes Vertes 2002 Loew Etienne (€6.70)
Rich, and not as sweet as its 8g/l residual sugar would suggest, but lacks freshness and vitality.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Schoech Maurice Et Fils (€8.50)
Correct, but not expressive.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Simmler Nicolas (€7.20)
Good acidity, but herbaceous, and not varietally expressive.
Alsace Muscat Belle Saison 2002 Cave Vinicole-Wolfberger (€4.80)
Fresh, floral aromas. Lacks vitality and expressiveness on palate. Dry. Basic.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Stentz Fernand (€6.50)
Freshness spoilt by malolactic aromas. Medium-dry soapy fruit.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Stoeffler Vincent (€5.80)
An elderflower aroma suggests to me that it will develop a more offensive cat's-pee smell.
Alsace Muscat 2002 Zusslin Valentin Et Fils (€10.40)
Slightly deeper colour than most. Medium-dry, grape-skin aromas on nose become soapy-grape-skin on palate. Finish out of kilter. Not well balanced.
Alsace Grand Cru Froehn Muscat SGN 1988 Becker Jean
Soil: argilo-marneux It is impossible to taste this wine blind. As soon as I saw the category (Muscat, SGN, 1988), I knew exactly what it was because Becker's 1988 was the very first Muscat SGN ever produced. It could not have been anything else. It was also the perfect illustration of why Muscat should not be cellared because although this was a truly exceptional wine (each grape was picked with an escargot fork!), it is now so off-putting on the nose that my brain rebelled at the thought of actually putting it inside my body. I refuse to score the wine. This is an emotional reaction, and I refer readers to page 327 and 359 of The Wines of Alsace to discover why.
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