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Online Alsace Guide

by Tom Stevenson

Pinot Gris

It has always puzzled why Alsace Pinot Gris is so full-bodied, powerfully spicy, with excellent acidity, whereas (supposedly) the same variety grown elsewhere produces a much lighter bodied, distinctly soft wine devoid of spice. Either it's a massive conspiracy whereby ever producer presses Pinot Gris immediately after the Gewürztraminer, or it is not the same variety at all. Or, at the very least, it is an entirely different clone.

But no, apparently the rest of the world not only has the same variety, but also has the same clones (146 and 152). Yet, grown elsewhere, Pinot Gris is closer to Pinot Grigio (a.k.a. Pinot Gris), which is fresh, light and soft than the true varietal character of Pinot Gris. And that includes the areas where this variety has built up some sort of reputation, such as New Zealand and Oregon. They might be a bit more "serious", firmer and slightly more alcoholic version of Pinot Grigio, but they are closer to that template, and nothing like Alsace Pinot Gris. There is no spice - despite winemakers' fantasy tasting notes.

For those wondering when the historical Tokay name will be phased out, this is due to happen by the end of 2006.


Alsace Grand Cru Gloeckelberg Tokay Pinot Gris SGN 2001 Koeberle-Kreyer (€34)
Soil: granite argilifié. The best Pinot Gris SGN I have tasted in many a year, and relatively inexpensive too, given the quality. Fresh, concentrated, lemony-citrus aromas, with beautifully fresh, exquisitely acidulated fruit on the finish. Very sweet.


Alsace Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 2002 Zind-Humbrecht (€42)
Beautiful crystallised fruits nose and palate. Very pure and fresh. Quite sweet.
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Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris "Barrique" 2001 Zink Pierre Paul (€25.30)
Oaky Pinot Gris! This is a very serious, very sweet wine, with classy oak on the finish, and toasty, crystallised apples, pears and pineapples on the aftertaste. Alsace meets Sauternes-and wins! Stunning.


Alsace Grand Cru Rosacker Pinot Gris 2002 Cave Vinicole De Hunawihr Et Environs (€9.65)
Soil: calcaire dolomitique. A beautifully fresh, sweet and succulent Pinot Gris produced from vines just a spitting distance away from Trimbach's famous Clos Ste. Hune. So pure, with vibrant acidity, and a hint of used oak on the finish. Very sweet for claimed 13.5g/l residual sugar (according to my Clinitest it was over 20g/l), but there is no doubting this is a wine of real class. And what a bargain!

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Stoffel Antoine (€6.10)
Textbook Pinot Gris with beautifully elegant, (effectively) dry fruit and perfect balancing acidity. Crisp, clean and satisfying.


Alsace Grand Cru Froehn Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Becker J.Phil. & Francois (€13.60)
Soil: argilo-marneux. Crystal-clear focus. Very rich, very sweet. Needs at least 5 years.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Meyer Alfred Et Fils (€7.80)
If you want to know what great Pinot Gris smells like when just 12 months old, then take a sniff of this. It's not spice per se, it's all potential, but once the potential spice template is grasped, you will never forget. Instantly identifiable. This also happens to be extraordinarily good value.

Alsace Grand Cru Altenberg De Bergheim Tokay Pinot Gris SGN 2001 Freyburger Louis Et Fils Sarl (€30)
Soil: marno-calcaire. Wonderfully clean, crisp, concentrated fruit. Intensely sweet.

Alsace Grand Cru Furstentum Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Mann Albert (€16)
Soil: calcaire. Very distinctive, citrus-cum-Lucozade aroma (and it's much better than this sounds!); zesty-citrus fruits on palate. A splendid if somewhat whacky Pinot Gris. Definitely sweet.

Alsace Grand Cru Furstentum Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Blanck Paul Et Fils (€15.30)
Soil: granitique. Lovely acids. This should be left somewhere cool and dark for 5 years.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Au Puits Des Moines 2002 Allimant-Laugner (€9.50)
Elegant yet remarkably concentrated fruit. Huge amount of sugar (40g/l) for a non-VT wine, and definitely very sweet, yet impeccably balanced. Fresh, vital.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Kientzler Andre (€8)
A totally dry Pinot Gris that needs at least three years to build-up spicy bottle-aromas. Excellent structure and acid.

Alsace Grand Cru Brand Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Boxler Albert (€18)
Soil: granitique. Concentrated fruit. Real VT level, even if not so classified. Very rich, very sweet. Crystallised pears and apples.
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Alsace Grand Cru Florimont Pinot Gris 2002 Sorg Bruno (€12)
Soil: marno-calcaire. Very sweet, very clean, rich and tangy. Might not develop much spice, but a lovely wine nonetheless. Distinctly sweet.


Alsace Pinot Gris SGN 2000 Sipp Louis (€44)
Excellent medium-weight Pinot Gris SGN in a very sweet, but not intensely sweet style that should one day achieve a certain spiciness.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Trimbach
This is a very early developing Pinot Gris that is already delicious to drink. When in the mouth, the wine creates a tingling sensation at the back of the tongue, on both sides. This is an indication of further spice developing, so although an early drinking wine, it is also offers medium-term longevity.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 2002 Klur Clement (€8.40)
So young, fresh and vital that it has yet to establish its identity, although the quality is unmistakable. Sweet.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Schoffit (€9)
Lemony-leather aromas; great depth and richness, but needs at least 4 years. Distinctly sweet.


Alsace Grand Cru Mambourg Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Cave Vinicole Jean Geiler (€9.20)
Soil: marno-calcaire. Leather and apricot aromas followed by rich, sweet apricot fruit.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris "Ancestrum" 2001 Cave Vinicole Pfaffenheim-Gueberschwihr (€15)
Fresh, rich and tasty. Will develop in a more fruity, less spicy, style.

Alsace Grand Cru Sommerberg Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Kuehn (€9.80)
Soil: granitique. Secondary aromas dominating. Needs time to settle in bottle. Sweet, vanilla-apricot fruit on palate.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Lieu-Dit Letzenberg 2002 Schoech Albert (€6.50)
Nose and palate promise spicy bottle-aromas in 3 years or so. Quite full-bodied fruit, medium-sweet to sweet. Good food wine.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Rosenberg 2002 Stentz Andre (€8.60)
Remarkably light and elegant, tangy fruit. Sweet.

Alsace Pinot Gris Clos Du Letzenberg 2002 Domaine Du Manoir-Thomann Marina (€7)
Youthful, banana-grape-skin aromas. Very rich and sweet, with no shortage of freshness and elegance. Needs 5 years at least.

Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve 2002 Jux (€5.80)
Youthful grape-skin aromas explain, perhaps, why this wine has a hollow front-to-middle palate. The richness comes only towards the end, and it's sweet, fresh and elegantly fruity.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Mader Jean-Luc (€6)
Good, easy-drinking Pinot Gris in an off-dry style. Should gain some spice over the next couple of years.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Scherb Louis Et Fils (€5.60)
1st bottle: corked. 2nd bottle: clean, with elegantly rich medium-weight fruit that promises to gain some spicy bottle-aromas in the next 2-3 years.

alsace pinot gris vieilles vignes 2002 schwartz j.l. (€6.50)
Very fresh, grape-skin nose promising spicy bottle-aromas in a year or two. Really quite sweet. Ideal with foie-gras.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Zusslin Valentin Et Fils (€7.50)
Potentially fresh, light, elegant, medium-sweet Pinot Gris that will start building spicy bottle-aromas after 2-3 years.

Alsace Pinot Gris Clos Des Récollets 2001 Albrecht Lucien (€25)
Pale for a Pinot Gris, yet really quite sweet and definitely has some botrytis. Aftertaste pretty dominant, but needs a couple of years to build and come together.


Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Kuhlmann Frederic (€6)
1st bottle: corked. 2nd bottle: clean, with the potential to develop mellow-spicy bottle-aromas over the next 3-4 years. Nice acidity. Not as sweet as its 15g/l residual sugar might suggest.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Hinterburg De Katzenthal 2002 Meyer-Fonne (€11.20)
You might like the butterscotch-fruit in this and other Pinot Gris wines that have obviously gone through malolactic, but the diacetyl produced by the malolactic should not be so obvious that it ends up like butterscotch. Whilst this wine might be rich and fresh, with elegant fruit on the palate, it could have been a hell of a lot better.

Alsace Grand Cru Steinert Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Moltes (€9.80)
Soil: calcaire. Lovely youthfully rich and tangy Pinot Gris fruit on the palate, but the nose needs a few years to focus. Sweet.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Letzenberg 2002 Adam J-B (€13.50)
Passerillage fruit, but balance could be better.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Sigille VT 1997 Stoffel Antoine (€16.80)
Tinned lychees (yep, this is correct - it's a Pinot Gris with a classic Gewurztraminer characteristic). Very sweet. Acidity could be higher (it's closer to typical Gewurztraminer level!).


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Brobecker (€5.80)
Grape-skin aromas promising spicy bottle-aromas, sweetish fruit, touch of leather on the finish, with malolactic creeping up on the aftertaste (probably only noticeable when tasting blind in peer group).

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Réserve Personnelle 2002 Buecher-Fix (€6.30)
Big chunk of sulphur on the nose (presumably, at this time of the year, due to recent bottling), but good fruit and acidity underneath. Should go toasty-spicy in 2-3 years.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Bollenberg 2002 Chateau D'orschwihr (€7.30)
Rich and solid. Needs time to evolve, but will always be rugged rather than elegant.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Klingenfus Robert (€6)
Good, basic (effectively) dry Pinot Gris.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Cuvée Alexandra 2002 Mauler Jean-Paul (€7.20)
Leather-grape-skin aromas. Very rich. Could be finer-tuned, better-focused.

alsace grand cru rangen tokay pinot gris clos st theobald sgn 2001 schoffit (€99)
Soil: volcanique. This must be Alsace's answer to German's TBAs. Not so much because of its deep gold colour, as its viscosity. This wine goes down the neck like Castrol GTX!

Alsace Pinot Gris Le Fromenteau 2002 Josmeyer & Fils Sa (€13.50)
Pinot Gris with coffee grinds! Dry. I should perhaps reserve my judgement on such an oddity, but scored according to how it drinks now.

Alsace Pinot Gris Rosenbourg 2002 Schaetzel Martin (€11.70)
Very sweet with a hole mid-palate and a cliff on the finish! Might well develop, but score is based on today's tasting.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Schneider Gerard Et Fils (€5.30)
Sweet tinned mandarins. Ready-drinking, with short-term potential.

Alsace Pinot Gris 2002 Schwartz Christian (€6)
Sweet, youthful Pinot Gris fruit with a hint of liquorice. Very smooth. Medium sweet.

Alsace Grand Cru Mambourg Pinot Gris 2002 Sparr Pierre Et Ses Fils (€13)
Although you can taste the very good, VT level of Pinot Gris fruit this was made from, the freshness and vitality has been compromised by malolactic.


Alsace Pinot Gris Rosenberg 2002 Barmes-Buecher (€13)
Lacks freshness on the nose and a niggling suspicion that “high” rape seed aromas might be building on the finish.


Alsace Pinot Gris Breiterberg 2002 Haag Jean-Marie (€10.50)
An unfocused sweet wine.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Cave Vinicole De Ribeauville Et Environs (€6.49)
1st bottle: polythene and chemicals! 2nd bottle: clean, but rather ordinary Pinot Gris fruit. Lacks finesse.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Klee Freres
An effectively dry Pinot Gris, but just does not have the crispness, freshness and focus.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Stierkopf 2002 Becht Pierre Et Frederic (€6.10)
Leather on nose, sweet and simple fruit on palate.


Alsace Pinot Gris Vignoble De Bennwihr 2002 Fonne Michel (€6.50)
A touch lactic on the finish.

Alsace Pinot Gris Rebberg 2002 Kreydenweiss Marc (€20)
Spoilt by malo aromas.


Alsace Pinot Gris Cuvée Laure VT 2000 Schlumberger (€31)
Spoilt by a touch malolactic on the finish.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Les Maquisards 2002 Dopff-Irion (€9.95)
Not exactly fresh and vital.


Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Schwenckel 2002 Baumann-Zirgel (€8.60)
Spoilt by malolactic.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Château Isenbourg 2002 Chateaux & Terroirs (€11.45)
Lacks freshness on nose and finesse on palate. Off-dry.

Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Cuvée Singulière 2000 Hausherr Hubert Et Heidi (€16)
Yet more rape seed

Alsace Grand Cru Zinnkoepfle Tokay Pinot Gris 2002 Hertz Albert
Soil: calcaro-gréseux. Spoilt by malolactic.


Alsace Grand Cru Gloeckelberg Pinot Gris VT 1996 Koehly Charles Et fils (€15.50)
Soil: granite argilifié. Golden yellow colour. Alien, off-putting smell of paint, chemicals or something of that nature.

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