Tag Archives: Alsace

Co-op wines (part 2)


One of my selections from the Co-op Fine Wine rack was from the Thelema Vineyard. These vineyards are just to the north-east of Stellenbosch, under the Simonsberg mountain in South Africa’s most well-established wine region. Previously noted for Chenin Blanc, there is now greater diversity into Cab. Savs, Merlots, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc – and this Chardonnay. The area is described as being cooler with well-drained soils.

The colour was an attractive very pale lemon with green hints. There was a lime/lemon bouquet balanced by a slight oakiness – both delicate and well-defined. This balance was continued in a palate of medium-weight, refreshing acidity and slight creaminess. The finish was long and dry but, as Richard noted, there was a final sweet touch. It was definitely Burgundian in style, the Cote de Beaune Burgundies rather than the riper flavours of further south. It hadn’t got the hard edge I can sometimes detect in south African wines

At a shade over £9 this was excellent value. It would match lighter flavoured white meat dishes, fish and cheese very well.

[Richard: I’ve always liked Thelma reds and this was equally nice, with a touch of distinctiveness  – something my choices lacked.]




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The right Sipp


Ribeauville contains two winemaker Sipps – Louis and Jean. This wine is from the latter and, as Richard will testify, the less easy to find, being further away from the large car-parks that dominate one end of the town. The wine is from 2009, named Les Terrasses du Clos and is also labelled H.D. Riesling. H.D. stands for higher density as Sipp’s website proclaims so, presumably, the potential yield per hectare is higher. That is certainly true of the ABV which is a lusty 14%, helped, no doubt, by the hot summer weather that year.

I tasted this blind and could not find any characteristics on the nose apart from a slight melon freshness. This did not change as it sat in the glass. The colours were a bright distinctively lemon yellow but its legs were not apparent. The palate was rich with the acidity staying high throughout the taste yet it was lacking in any fruit flavour (Richard called it ‘hollow’ in the mid-palate). What was almost unpleasant was its hardness, which was our abiding impression, unfortunately. The expected pronounced smell of petrol was nowhere to be seen – if that makes sense.

Richard was left with the majority of the bottle – he’ll report below.

[Richard: I have a clear memory of buying this wine. I asked the vivacious serveuse – a woman d’un certain age – which was her favourite riesling and she recommended the above. It was, I think, the most expensive as well, maybe around €14. Perhaps the two things are related. Given that 2009 was a good year in Alsace this wine was a disappointment with all the negatives Geoff mentions. Perhaps the first Sipp was the right one after all. The bottle has been vacuum corked so more to come.

Tried again on Thursday: more riesling character on the nose, increased lime flavour, smoother, less hard. An improvement.]

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Many a Sipp …


…… were purchased by Richard on 13th April 2013. Grand Cru Kirchberg de Ribeauville 2002 by Louis Sipp was purchased as part of a case of Kirchbergs from vintages between the years 1999 and 2009. This purchase was made direct from the outlet in the very pretty wine town that typified the region of Hansel and Gretel houses.

The colour was a deep yellow with no trace of green, bright and clear with some viscosity evident (13% ABV). The nose was very complex and shouted stewed fruit to me which moved to honey the longer it sat in the glass. It smelt fresh with the slight undertones of the expected kerosene and we could also detect melon.

This was not carried through into the palate, however, which was disappointing. The dominant taste was that of acidity but with slight honey notes. It didn’t carry much weight in the mouth.

The wine was an anti-climax and we both thought that there was a lack of intensity in the flavour, which is non-typical of an Alsace wine. Vintage conditions were variable with hot sun in early summer and rain and cold temperatures closer to picking time. Although well-made we said the wine was disappointing, not surprising considering the weather.

{Richard: we parked up in Ribeauville and walked up through the high street, with caves on every corner. Having heard that Sipp was a good maker we were pleased to find it immediately. A very welcoming (and generous) tasting room with three Germans getting stuck into the gewürztraminer with great enthusiasm. I bought a mixed riesling case (although not sold as such) of 6 different vintages. Only on leaving the cave and walking on further did we realise (you may have heard this before), that there was another Sipp, which we have yet to blog on. After all that this wine was a let down. Classic riesling nose I thought which didn’t follow through onto the taste which was dull after the first glass. Must try a later vintage soon.]

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Alsace – Hunawihr and The Map


Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr is the co-operative in the Alsace town, an impressive, modern building with a welcoming visitor section. Richard and I visited it two years ago – he bought some wine, I came away with a relief map of Alsace. The wine was stored safely in the boot but the unfoldable plastic map – about 4 feet long – had to sit awkwardly in the car through the rest of holiday. It now resides in the spare room; Richard has drunk the wine he purchased. There must be a moral there, somewhere.

This Sunday we tried the Cave Vinicole’s Grand Cru Osterberg 2010. Although it was a Riesling it didn’t show the typical aromatic characteristics of that grape. The colour was pale lemon/green with evidence of some viscosity. The dominant bouquet was one of citrus but it’s freshness was it’s most attractive feature. The palate was dry and balanced,  the full-flavour complementing a mouth-watering acidity. There was no hint of the renowned kerosene notes, possibly because it was still young in development. It was a wonderful, sipping wine – no need to rush this one, it just needed savouring. Excellent.

[Richard: this wine is a bit of a mystery as I cannot trace where it came from. There were two bottles originally and I specifically kept the second for Geoff to try. Not the usual places – like WS – and there doesn’t seem to be a UK stockist. Perhaps it was one of those purchased Geoff mentions above? In which case it would have been about €11. Anyway, fabulous wine with tremendous, mouth puckering acidity but in a good way with loads of balance. And if you are in the area, a great co-op to visit with a wide range of excellent and well priced wines.]

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