Calling Alsace Fans (help request)

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by David Crossley, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. A few of you know that our trip to Japan and Nepal was brought short, and we have decided we need a quiet week away when the dust has settled. We are currently looking at Alsace.

    We do know the region well, and have been half a dozen times. We are looking to stay up near Andlau/Mittelbergheim, where we last stayed in 1989.

    We want a rest, and will plan a trip up to Schweigen ;) , but I'm after a few names in the northern part of the region. Not the obvious ones, but new names, rising stars, either in the villages here, or in the golden triangle further north, which is even less well known.

    Would be interested in any cavistes in Barr or close by, and any restaurants. My wife is vegan. We get by in most places, but I'm not sure about Alsace. Personally I love traditional Alsacien food.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Hi David - initial thoughts on a restaurant is the Hostellerie du Rosenmeer ( on the eastern outskirts of Rosheim, at the railway station. We stayed overnight there a couple of years ago and it had a star then, although probably just scraped as, while the food was very good, the service was not what you'd expect from a starred establishment, in that it was slow, sometimes inattentive but very friendly. It didn't really trouble us and wouldn't stop us going back, but it definitely wasn't up to michelin starred standards. However the main attraction was the wine list, with lots of old vintages, from many regions, at very reasonable prices.
    For a decent lunch I'd recommend l'auberge du Hohwald a couple of miles south of Mittelbergheim.
    Producers is probably more difficult as you recommended most to me!! However, given your love of natural wines these days it would be worth going back to Domaine Rietsch as he has been veering towards that style in recent years and you may not have experienced their wines since then.
    Going north of Molsheim, for well-priced every day drinking wines that are very well made, I'd recommend the Cave du Roi Dagobert on the D422 right at the Traenheim roundabout. There's also Domaine Frédéric Mochel on Traenheim itself (by the way, their website photo (presumably of father and son) would be worthy of a Kraftwerk album sleeve!!)
    Sam Wright likes this.
  3. 'Golden triangle further north'. For a moment there, I assumed you were obliquely referring to the Mosel. Oh well...........:cool:
    Andrew Stevenson likes this.
  4. Thank you Paul. I was certainly hoping you would bre around to respond, and I am transposing those into my notebook.

    I've had one or two wines from Reitsch, but their whereabouts were not on my radar. But that may well be one visit we make. The nature of the trip makes wine a bit of a compromise so I shall do Becker (that's the Schweigen trip), two or three in Alsace, and hope to find an interesting wine shop or two for some random purchases.

    North of Molsheim is a bit of a black hole for me, other than visiting the abbey at Marmoutier and an incomprehensible desire to try Klevener de Heiligenstein years ago (which, at least back in those days, was a bit like trying Gros Plant or Marin).
  5. I'm afraid having been to Bernkastel in 2015...if it were up to me...:(
  6. Restaurant wise Au Potin in Barr is excellent. Brasserie food, not fancy but precisely executed and delicious. Lovely welcoming reception and a good selection of wines by the glass from local producers. Not sure about dietary requirements.
  7. Steven, that sounds a good shout, thanks. BTG always good where driving.
  8. A wee bit late to this thread, but a couple of suggestions from me.

    Firstly, a definite endorsement of Paul's suggestions of Rietsch (Mittelbergheim) and Frederic Mochel in Traenheim. Rietsch is very much into experimentation, and you have to be open minded about that. For example, of his orange(y) wines, I think the gewurz is a mistake, but the pinot blanc/gris one is a big success. But an exciting range to taste through. Some are made without added sulphur, some with, so it's important to ask if you propose to sit on that wine for some years, as I would do with a riesling. When in Mittelbergheim don't neglect Rieffel, probably the most accomplished wines in Mittelbergheim and they certainly used to be an absolute bargain. I think they are biodynamic now. Catherine Riss (all the R's!) is a small new producer of a natural bent who used to make her wines in Rieffel's cellars but now has premises of her own. Too new for me to have visited but she gets v. favourable reviews.

    Further north, up in the Couronne d'Or, as well as Mochel I would give a strong recommendation for Domaine Loew (Etienne Loew) in Westhoffen and Domaine Pfister (Melanie Pfister) in Dahlenheim. These are my go-to addresses (which I need to go to again soon!) for Bas Rhin producers who make lovely, characterful wines that eschew the "bigness" that often plagues more southerly producers. Both often have one-offs to try as well as their more regular lines and are thoughtful winemakers, making for informative visits. Pfister's crémant is particularly successful. Loew is biodynamic but I don't know about Pfister.

    The other comment I usually make on such occasions is that these northerly producers are - unlike their southerly cousins - are off the tourist track, and consequently it is important to make an appointment. In my experience though they are punctilious in replying.

    Best wishes for the trip, David, and I trust in due course you will report back!
    Sam Wright and Paul Anderson like this.
  9. Thank you, Ian. The three Rs will be on my mind for local visits, and the female producer I was trying to think of was Melanie Pfister.

    So we are sorted, or at least we have the accommodation booked (in Andlau via Airbnb). It's now a choice of a night in Champagne, on the way home, if my visit request is answered positively, or my Plan B, a four hour drive to Arbois. Trust us to only be able to fit in a trip which ends when the French have a Bank Holiday on a Wednesday.
    Paul Anderson likes this.
  10. We spent the first week of the Easter school holidays near Klingenthal (that is, near Obernai, SW of Strasbourg) and, since our trip benefited from my reading this thread beforehand, I thought I'd add a few thoughts.

    Paul's suggestion (above) of the Cave du Roi Dagobert in Traenheim is an excellent one, not least because stopping there meant that we noticed that there is a very good farm shop across the road! As with most gites, our booking was from Saturday to Saturday, and we arrived in the area late on Saturday afternoon, so the opportunity to pick up really good local meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables was helpful.

    We spent hours on Mont Sainte-Odile. We visited the abbey, the spring and various ruins, but mainly took advantage of the fantastic range of walking trails, the best of which followed the 'pagan wall'. Similar walks in Cumbria would be heaving with tourists; apart from on Easter Sunday, we didn't see another person.

    We ate well, not that that is such an achievement in Alsace. We didn't eat anywhere especially grand but everything we were served was hearty and generous. The meal we most enjoyed was at the Ferme Auberge du Kreuzweg, whose Hohwald location and simple menu (not much more than wild boar, duck, spaetzle, fried potatoes and Munster cheese) made for a lovely afternoon. And the price? Three courses for my wife and me - including the best foie gras of the holiday - and two courses for our three children, aperitifs, wine, digestifs and coffee... 92 euros!

    Wandering through Mittelbergheim one day, enjoying the spring sunshine and the beautiful surroundings (is there an ugly village or town in Alsace?), we noticed the Rieffel sign. This brought to mind Ian's recommendation, so I thought I'd try my luck. Seeing a man in the courtyard, I asked if I could try some wine. He turned out to be Lucas Rieffel, and a very nice bloke too, who spent the next half hour guiding me through various Pinots Blanc and Gris, as well as the excellent Rieslings. The rich Wiebelsberg and Zotzenberg 2015s were right up my street. Apologies for going on about the price of things but, having picked up a box of Pinot Blanc Gebreit for 8 euros a bottle, I was pleasantly surprised to see it advertised on BBR's website for £20.

    A wonderful week - and we didn't even make it to Strasbourg! We're now working out when we can next make it back to Alsace...
  11. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

  12. Our trip to Alsace was brilliant too, Sam. I realised I didn’t really write about it here but I did on my blog.

    The thing that always gets me with Alsace is how relaxing it is. And boy do you eat well, though my wife is vegan which is not an issue in many place but that amazing place in Le Hohewald would probably have been out of bounds for me.

    I’ve been to Alsace many times, and stayed north to south, but our last trip, staying in Andlau, was the best. For walking, food and new producers. Rieffel is excellent, though Jean-Pierre Rietsch (also Mittelbergheim) was my highlight (as well as spending a morning with Fritz Becker jnr at Schweigen).

    I would go back tomorrow if it were not for my next three overseas trips being already on the calendar.
    Sam Wright and Ian Black like this.
  13. We were hoping to swing through Alsace (popping over to Baden, & slipping in a visit to Boxler would have been the unlikely-to-happen bonus) next month, on the way from Burgundy to Mosel, but now need to divert to the Loire. Ridiculously, we haven't visited the region since 2008 & our intention remains to rectify matters this year.
    Ian Black and David Crossley like this.
  14. Just back from my first ever trip there. We tasted at Dirler-Cade, Weinbach, Deiss and Leon Beyer. We stayed in Kaysersberg (in view of the Schlossberg) where we ate traditionally and very well indeed, and which I would unhesitatingly recommend as a base. We’ll be back. One of my best ever wine visits.
  15. David, having had a good look at your informative, interesting and well-written blog, I can only say that I missed a trick not making the effort to contact Rietsch before our trip. Yet another reason to return!

    As you pointed out, too, Rietsch's labels really are outstanding.
    Shon Williams likes this.
  16. Mittelbergheim was on my to do list, but was told by a well-informed sommelier that Rietsch had nothing to sell at the moment, so we consoled ourselves by picking up a few bottles of Catherine Riss at the excellent caveau in Riquewihr. As Sam says, more reason to return and probably have an as good but completely different experience.
  17. Hi Shon, I'd be interested in your views on these producers, especially Deiss.
  18. I'm sure he had a good selection of his labels, plus some info about the artist, on his website.

    The last time I visited him (2015) he had very little to sell - really just his experimental Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, which was slightly disappointing.
  19. And me on the range at Dirler-Cadé please. On my list for this year.
  20. Jim, D-C have a pretty big range, covering all grapes and a number of GC vineyards and Lieus Dits. If you email them they will send you their latest tarif for the full range of available wines.
  21. Dirler-Cade’s range is excellent, all the way through the vintage Cremant to the SGNs. The style is classically restrained, gastronomic and well made. I particularly liked the GC Saering Muscat, not normally my go to grape. Brace yourselves for a 30 wine tasting, but they appreciate the visit. I don’t think I can add much to the plaudits surrounding Weinbach. These wines are on a different level in terms of purity and finesse. The basic just bottled Pinot Blanc was similar to a premier cru Chablis, to give you an indication. There are plans at the domaine for a bigger tasting facility for next year. Leon Beyer was a walk-in tasting at the shop in Egusheim. High quality here again, with the Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer shining, especially the aged dry examples that had taken on a honeyed truffley nuance. Finally, Deiss was the most highly anticipated tasting, and expectations were exceeded. That is not to say I enjoyed everything, with one or two missing the mark for my palate, however I would single out the 12 Grasberg and 12 Berg as two of the greatest dry wines I’ve had from Alsace, and the 05 Pinot Gris SGN awe-inspiring. I splashed the cash, but you have to when true love comes along. :)
  22. Thanks, yes been to D-C a couple of times so I receive their latest tarifs by email. Agree their Muscats are top notch as are their Spiegel Rieslings. Went to Weinbach last time and although impressed, I find D-C’s wines more table-friendly and gastric. Luckily plenty of great domaines to suit all tastes there though.
  23. A fan of D-C, too. Now have a reliable source (sic), VT. Their Muscat is just about the most age-worthy dry Muscat about. And my Mum really likes it.
    Jim Agar likes this.
  24. Another fan of D-C here. I sometime wonder why they never get spoken of by the writers in the same breath as other domaines. Perhaps because there are so few Alsace specialists and it’s not possible for the UK generalists to get into the region deeply?

    Not the best but as Mark says, (highly) reliable over decades...a “you can’t go wrong with” producer.
    Jim Agar likes this.
  25. Are there any Alsace specialist merchants in the UK? I’ve only started taking a more serious interest in wine in the last 6 months, and I need to look beyond TWS.

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