When we began looking for Rieslings back in the Spring, inevitably we ended up in Alsace. Smart shoppers flock to Alsace for drier versions of food-friendly, affordable Riesling. Here, the food is robust and the wine is tart, making it a Mecca for the food and wine savvy. Not only has it become the hub for sophisticated dining in northern France, it’s also where wine lovers "in the know" shop for bargains.
The 2008 Louis Reffelingen Riesling comes to you from the Kientzheim-Kaysersberg cooperative (try saying that five times fast!). This co-op of 140 growers collectively supply their fruit to a number of producers in the area. They landed on top amongst table loads of samples we tasted mainly because of the incredible quality of winegrapes they supply. Coming from a patchwork of diverse soils in this cool climate area, their grapes reflect the terroir of the region (the sum of the effects of the local environment on the crop), a very important element in the production of fine Riesling.
The label pays tribute to Louis Reffelingen, a patriot loyal to Alsace which is actually the only region in France to produce wines labeled by the name of the grape variety used rather than the region of origin (e.g., "Riesling" rather than "Alsace") other than the pay d’Oc.º Alsace is an area that France and Germany historically fought over, so its culture is a hybrid of influences from these two areas. The Riesling grape itself is a German grape and the traditional bottle reflects the traditional style required by German law. Yet, the wine is crafted in the French winemaking style, ferment it until it’s bone dry, in accordance with the Reffelingen’s “house style".
Regardless of the style, the flavor profile of the Riesling grape is consistent, exhibiting delicate flavors of fresh ripe peaches, apricots and melons. If you’re tired of Chardonnay (especially oaked ones), you’ll find these flavors make it a lovely alternative. The fact that it’s unoaked makes it work well with food, especially difficult to match ethnic foods like Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes. As you enjoy the complex aromas of ginger and anise and the refreshing acidity of this selection, you’ll understand why Alsatian Rieslings are the whites smart wine drinkers prefer – undervalued, accessible, ageworthy, and best of all, food friendly!
93 Points (Exceptional), Gold, Cellar Selection, Best Buy, 2010 World Wine Championships:
"Pale golden color. Layered aromas of honeyed baked peaches and lemons and flint with a supple dryish medium-to-full body and a long, nectarine skin, faint fuel, slate, and nutshell finish. Impressive and still developing; serve with grilled Latin fishes and relish dishes." (12/02/2010)