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Online Alsace Guide

by Tom Stevenson

Pinot Noir

During my April trip to Alsace, I tasted 30-odd Pinot Noirs, most of which were unsatisfactory (over-extracted, too tannic, too oaky etc). The best by far was Marcel Deiss 2000 Pinot Noir Burlenberg (€25.00), while the second best, by quite a margin (although still very nice and a relative bargain, especially from this producer) was Domaine Weinbach 2001 Pinot Noir Réserve (€13.50), closely followed by the most commercial of all, Hugel 2001 Jubilée Pinot Noir (€21.08). And that was about it.

Maybe another four or five were delightful on the nose, but did not live up to the promise on the palate. I therefore expressed my disappointment, hoping for a better showing in November, but again most were sub-standard. Why is it that although both Alsace and Germany started at the same time (mid-eighties) to develop Pinot Noir as a serious red wine style (as opposed to rosé), only Germany has succeeded? The cadre of top-performing Pinot Noir producers includes the likes of Deutzerhof, Kreuzberg, Huber, Johner, Knipser, Philipp Kuhn, Bernhart, Fürst, August Kesseler, and Aldinger, yet the only Alsace producer who would not be shown up in such company is Deiss, and the very best of Hugel's wines.


Alsace Pinot Noir Burlenberg 2000 Deiss Marcel (€28)
Deep colour, medium-full body. Distinctly oaky, yet definitely superior Pinot Noir, with grippy, almost puckering tannins, yet bags of big, serious Pinot Noir fruit. Has finesses and is potentially complex. Should age beautifully.


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir Le Neveux 2002 Hugel
Only the fourth vintage made since 1990, Le Neveux is a barrique-fermented Pinot Noir from a climat or single-plot, and represents something of a statement by the next generation (Marc, Etienne & Jean-Philippe). A cask sample of 2003, which was harvested at 13% ABV, had an opaque purple colour, rich fruit and big tannins. I would need to retaste this when it has been bottled, but it could well turn out to be better than the inaugural 1990 vintage and, who knows, maybe even Deiss's Burlenberg …


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir Le Neveux 1990 Hugel
Wonderful fruit, with none of the gaminess that can affect some Hugel Pinot Noir, particularly the older vintages. Bright Pinot fruit on the palate, with menthol complexity building on the finish.


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 2001 Hugel (€21.08)
Beautiful Pinot Noir aromas (quite Burgundian, almost Santenay-like), with lovely fruit on the palate, deftly balanced by nice dry tannins. The finish is not big, but it does have a certain voluptuousness.


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir Le Neveux 2000 Hugel
The Pinot Noir fruit is broader than in Le Neveux 2001, with some fat, less complexity and finesse.


Alsace Pinot Noir Les Tonnelles 2001 Dopff-Irion (€10.55)
Medium body and colour. Strawberry Pinot fruit, which is unusual for Alsace. A nice wine made from truly ripe Pinot Noir grapes, but could do with some complexity and more finesse?

Alsace Pinot Noir Cuvée Du Chat Noir 2002 Hering Domaine (€9.50)
Light-medium body and colour. Creamy-oaky Pinot Noir. Elegant. Quite fine, but not complex.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2001 Hugel (€9.22)
This vintage of Hugel's standard, entry-level Pinot Noir promises well, with its ripe, sweet varietal aromas, and elegant, medium-bodied weight.

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1990 Hugel
Lovely fruit, but there is a gaminess that reduces the score.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Lissner Clement (€4.80)
Medium-full body and colour. Serious Pinot Noir fruit, nice acid-tannin structure, needs 3-4 years.


Alsace Pinot Noir 2000 Weber Odile Et Danielle (€6.40)
Medium body and colour. Menthol-touched Pinot Noir fruit. Some complexity. Not herbaceous.


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1998 Hugel (€18.69)
Firm and vital, with a mellow finish, but the tannins will outlive the fruit.

Alsace Pinot Noir Rouge De St Léonard 2001 Hummel Bernard Et Filles (€7)
Medium body and colour. Good Pinot fruit, nice grippy tannins.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2000 Stentz Andre (€7.50)
Medium body and colour. Some serious Pinot Noir fruit, good tannins on finish.


alsace pinot noir le pn de jean-baptiste adam 2001 adam j-b (€14)
Medium body and colour. Good varietal fruit, smooth finish.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2000 Hugel
Full, gamey notes mixing with Pinot Noir aromas, with some menthol finesse developing on the finish. Not yet released.

Alsace Pinot Noir Fűt De Chęne 2001 Humbrecht Georges Et Claude (€7)
Light-medium body and colour. Good fruit and nice varietal character.


Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Bohn Francois (€6.10)
Light-medium body and colour. Pure Pinot Noir, elegant, some tannins, but not complex.

Alsace Pinot Noir Westerberg 2002 Einhart (€5.81)
Full-on rose colour. Very herbaceous nose and palate. The world's first pink Sauvignon Blanc? Refreshing rose as a drink, but not Pinot Noir.

Alsace Pinot Noir Cuvée Fernand 2001 Engel Fernand Et Fils (€8.70)
Medium-full body and colour. Very fruity aromas, with perfumed fruit on palate, and a creamy aftertaste to balance nice, grippy tannins. Has some Pinot Noir character, and not bad as a red wine, but could have more varietal typicity.

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1985 Hugel
The first vintage of Pinot Noir produced exclusively from Hugel's own vineyards is very soft, and past its best.

Alsace Pinot Noir Rouge De St Léonard / Vin Issu De Raisins De Culture Biologique 2002 Hummel Bernard Et Filles (€7.80)
Medium body and colour. Herbaceous nose, good, Pinot fruit on palate; creamy finish balances tannins.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Muller Charles Et Fils (€6.80)
Medium body and colour. Good fruit, nice acidity, some varietal typicity.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2000 Stentz Aime Et Fils (€6.40)
A somewhat herbaceous Pinot Noir made in a refreshing, fruity clairet/rose style. Tastes like 50/50 Pinot Noir/Sauvignon Blanc! For drinking slightly chilled in a café on a sunny day.

Alsace Pinot Noir Rouge D'ottrott 2002 Vonville Jean Charles (€9.80)
Light-medium body and colour. Everything you could hope to expect from a red Pinot d'Alsace 15 years ago: good Pinot Noir fruit, but rather simplistic.

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1983 Hugel
Made entirely from purchased fruit, the 1983 “Jubilée” has very mature Pinot fruit, with a dry finish.


Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1999 Hugel (€21.08)

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1996 Hugel
No 1996 stink, but the gamey Pinot aromas make the wine somewhat rustic.


Alsace Pinot Noir Rosé De Marlenheim 2002 Fritsch Romain (€4.50)
Simple rose style. Not much varietal character, but pleasant enough.

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1993 Hugel
Gamey-mature Pinot fruit, with a dry finish.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Klee Freres
Light-medium body and colour. Some Pinot Noir fruit.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Hugel
Hugel's entry-level Pinot Noir is made entirely from purchased fruit (mostly from Gueberschwihr and Rouffach), but since 1999 Hugel has contracted to buy twice the amount of grapes it requires so that it can increase quality through selection. Also since 1999, a small proportion has been vinified in oak. Unfortunately neither of these measures has had much beneficial effect on this light-bodied, high-acid wine, which has more in common with Gamay (and Gamay grown on the wrong soil, at that), than Pinot Noir.

Alsace “Jubilee” Pinot Noir 1997 Hugel
Starting to go over on the nose.

alsace pinot noir vieilles vignes 2002 schwartz christian (€7.40)
Medium body and colour. Aldehydic, coconut-oaky red. Alsace meets Rioja!

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Stentz Fernand (€6.50)
Light-medium body and colour. More red wine than Pinot Noir. Dry finish hides fruit.

Alsace Pinot Noir Rouge D'ottrott 2001 Vonville Jean Charles (€8.50)
Medium body and colour. Menthol-herbaceousness on nose translates as austere fruit on palate.

Alsace Pinot Noir 1997 Zink Pierre Paul (€6.25)
Over-ambitious, aldehydic, lacks fruit.


Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Koeberle Kreyer (€7.20)
Light-medium body and colour. More basic red wine than Pinot Noir.

Alsace Pinot Noir Hahnenberg Barriques 2001 Koehly Jean-Marie (€7.30)
Aldehydic-oaky with puckering fruit.

Alsace Pinot Noir 2002 Schneider Gerard Et Fils (€5)
Medium body and colour. Some Pinot fruit, but could be fresher.

Alsace Pinot Noir "Granite" 2001 Stentz-Buecher (€15)
Dark colour for Alsace Pinot Noir, with incongruous herbaceousness from nose through palate to finish. Over extracted for degree of physiological ripeness. Trying too hard.

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