Reviewed by Jancis Robinson for the Financial Times in their 6th December 2019 article, Stunning White Wines for the Festive Season (see blue link below).
This small co-operative, founded in 1954, has 110 members and 200 hectares of vineyard in the Haut-Rhin, nine kilometres from Colmar. Their wines are vinified using only their members' grapes, with a focus on expressing the rich diversity of Alsatian soils. Winemaker Nicolas Garde started at the winery in 2004 and his influence continues to be seen in the way the wines improve with each vintage.
Sheltered by the Vosges Mountains, the Alsace wine region has a semicontinental climate which stays sunny and dry throughout the growing season, which extends the ripening period for the grapes. The slopes surrounding Hunawihr, a picturesque village of half-timbered houses and a 14th century church, are some of the most celebrated in Alsace for grape-growing. Cave de Hunawihr’s fruit is sourced from 25 year-old vines grown in vineyards, located at 250-320 metres altitude, which run along the south and south-east facing hillside slopes around the village. The vineyards cover an area of 36 hectares, located on a geological fault line across Ribeauvillé, which gives soils composed of clay limestone and marl with overlying chalk gravel.
The 2018 vintage was very good. Budburst was later than normal however a very hot summer allowed harvest to begin towards the end of August. Yields were higher than average and the grapes were of a high quality.
Each parcel was individually selected to ensure the best quality for this Réserve wine. Fermentation took place at temperatures of 16-18°C for three weeks with local yeasts. The wine was then aged on its fine lees in stainless-steel tanks for three months before careful filtration. Malolactic fermentation was not allowed to take place.
Residual sugar = 8.7g/litre.
This wine is an elegant straw yellow in colour with youthful tints. The nose is complex with aromas of citrus, pear, white flowers and a touch of minerality. The palate is lively and is bursting with citrus flavours. The finish is long and refreshing.
ABV = 13.5%.
The Dopff family have been winegrowers since 1574 and still manage the 70 hectare estate near the charming medieval town of Riquewihr.The vineyards are more than 300 metres above sea level, nestled in the foothills of the lower Vosges, sheltered from the northerly winds and the rain from the west. The southerly exposure of the vineyards and favourable microclimate lend themselves to the art of producing excellent wine. As a family of pioneers, they were responsilble for the use of the stemmed wine bottles, which today distinguish Alsace wines from other regions. In 1900, tenth generation, Julien Dopff, was so impressed by the Champagne tastings held in Paris' World Exhibition, he decided to learn the art of winemaking in Champagne for 2 years before returning to Alsace. Initially, the Dopff family bought juice in barrels from Champagne, blended, processed and aged the wines in Ricquewihr. However, after WW II Julien Dopff strongly believed that a Crémant made from local grape varieties and reflecting the terroir of Alsace should be produced and protected. In 1976, together with 5 other producers, he finally obtained official recognition for Crémant d'Alsace as an AOC.
The vines are pruned according to the Guyot system, with a green harvest and meticulous canopy management to ensure good light penetration and air flow. The vineyards are made up of sandy clay soils with good drainage.
Harvest started on 6th September 2018, with Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris; the Riesling grapes were harvested from 20th September. The yields were higher than the previous year and the fruit picked was in an excellent, healthy condition, due to the warm, dry ripening period throughout the summer. The fruit offers concentrated flavours, with excellent maturity.
The grapes were harvested at optimum maturity and carefully selected. The grapes were whole bunch pressed, prior to a static settling process. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures, maintaining the purity of fruit and the varietal characteristics of Gewürztraminer.
Expressive, classic aromas of rose petal, lychee, jasmine and tropical fruits with a touch of pepper carry through to an opulent and beautifully balanced palate with an elegant, off-dry finish.
ABV = 13.5%
Earning a listing for one of your wines at a Michelin-starred restaurant is a proud moment – so what must it be like to be featured by every single three Michelin-starred restaurant in France (that’s 27 in total)? It’s an accolade that reflects the historic excellence and purist vision of F. E. Trimbach, unquestionably one of the great names of Alsace and a family business that can trace its origins all the way back to 1626. Thirteen generations later, brothers Bernard and Hubert, plus Bernard’s sons, Pierre and Jean, and granddaughter Anne – remain true to the philosophy handed down to them by their 19th century ancestor, Frédéric Emile (the man who put the “F.E.” into F. E. Trimbach).
The “Réserve” quality is the result of a rigorous selection of fully-ripe grapes from the Ribeauvillé region. It defines a structured, balanced wine, which is both fruity and subtle.
White flowers, lemon notes and minerality touch on the nose. Fresh and vibrant, grapefruit and citrus, white peach, this wine has a long finish which is a sign of a beautiful future for the wine. This elegant Riesling, dry and precise, is a worthy accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes. It pairs well with sauerkraut, fish (fried, grilled, smoked, in a sauce, raw…), and white meats. The best vintages can be kept for ten years.
ABV = 14.0%.