My previous tasting of a Hugel Pinot Noir, the 2010 vintage, had left me rather disappointed. So, when Richard dug out another Hugel Pinot Noir, but this time from 2007, I was sceptical. The colour was a medium deep garnet-red with no purple edges, suggesting a fully mature wine from a climate that was only moderately hot. The nose initially had a deep aroma but, surprisingly, not particularly fruity, when first smelt. It later developed some sweet notes. The palate was rich and savoury and well-balanced – evidence of a finely made wine. It had an finish of cherry flavours but the whole the taste was savoury rather than fruit-sweetness – a lovely accompaniment to the food (below). My research showed that the 2010 was a classic Alsace vintage but that the 07 Pinots were ‘the most inconsistent’ wines of a variable growing season. This wine, and the Pinot ’10 I previously tasted, proved that tasting the wines is the best way of research – and the most fun.
Right, the second wine – an Albert Boxler 2003 Grand Cru Sonnenberg – bought by Richard from Gauntleys of Nottingham. We both expected this to be excellent, and it didn’t disappoint. The colour was a diamond bright, yellow-gold and the viscosity was evident on the sides of the glass. The aromas were spicy, raisiny and aromatic but it didn’t have that characteristic strong ‘kerosene’ smell of an ageing Riesling. The taste of raisins dominated the front palate but the wine had a wonderful balance of sweetness and acidity that prevented it becoming cloying and made it ideal to drink with chicken breasts in a Riesling (not this one!) sauce. The wine was weighty in the mouth. The 2003 was rated as a very good vintage and this Riesling certainly gave full evidence of that.
Two really good wines from Alsace – both ideal ‘aperitifs’ for our forthcoming visit – of which, more to follow.
[Richard: the red was from the Wine Society in a mixed case (actually classy wooden box) of Hugel pinots. This was the oldest vintage. No 2010s in the case! We drank it with my attempt at an Alsace onion tart. Not as obviously pinot as some burgundies – as Geoff suggests, but a very good wine. Gauntleys has a fine range of Alsace whites. I know you are supposed to make the dish with the wine you drink with it but I wasn’t going to pour a £30-odd wine into a sauce so I used a German kabinett instead. For me the Boxler was just a little too off-dry but obviously of great quality and I enjoyed it a lot. Boxler is somewhere we intend to visit next week, when in Alsace. Thanks to Davy Strange http://elitistreview.com/ for the Boxler photo]