I'm so happy that fall is here, with darker skies and cooler winds. I've come to figure out that folks in the north view hot summer days the way that we in the south view snow: when you don't get it very often, it's a lot of fun. When you have to deal with it for half of the year, it's terrible. I'll still be mowing my yard well into November, but I know I'll get excited if we get a light dusting of snow in January. When I was working in Cleveland, I discovered that a long winter means that dirty, nasty snow just piles up for months into mountains on the sides of roads and in parking lots, and in the spring, all the garbage is spread out again with the March melt. It really destroyed the magic and wonder of snow for me. Let's get back to happy topics.
All of these wines are 100% Pinot Gris from Alsace, and the publicist suggested mushroom pairings for each wine. This presented me with a conundrum, because I love mushrooms but Julia and The Roommate are not fans. Unable to just have a fungus-themed dinner party without them, I am including the suggested pairings at the end of each review, and I like all of them, but in some cases I had different ideas. My actual pairing for the tasting was a rerun of this memorable lunch, thinking that sandwiches with ham and pears and smoked cheddar (plus all the appetizers) would be perfect with these gentle Alsatian wines.
2011 Willm Pinot Gris Réserve
$13, 13% abv.
The first sentence on the back really encapsulates the French-German heritage of the region: "The Willm vineyard, combining Grand Cru Kirchberg de Barr and the well-known Clos Gaensbroennel, was planted in Barr in 1896". This one pours a dark golden color, making me suspect that those grapes have little flecks of red on the skins. This one is silky smooth and incredibly mild, with very low acidity. Very pleasant and a slow sipper. Suggested pairing: Steamed Halibut with Chanterelles and Shallots
2009 Schlumberger Pinot Gris Les Princes Abbés
$20, 13.5% abv.
Spicy quince and lemon curd notes on the nose. Bright acidity and a crisp, short finish. Definitely the most acidic and sharp of the selections. I'd match it with grilled shrimp, but... Suggested pairing: White Truffle Risotto with Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
2009 Meyer-Fonné Pinot Gris Réserve Particulière
$22, 13.5% abv.
Rich and mildly sweet with apple and pear flavors. Medium acidity and a body that's just begging for some slow cooked veal sausage and beans. Slight element of freshly cut grass on the nose. Suggested pairing: Pan-Seared Scallops with Morel Cream Sauce
2011 Domaine Mittnacht Frères Pinot Gris "Les Petits Grains"
$22, 14% abv.
The text on the front "...pour que tes yeux scintillent comme une étoile" translates as something like "for your eyes sparkle like stars", which is delightful. By far the driest and mildest of the group, this one has exceptional minerality and a slightly earthy edge. Dark aromas of wet stone and straw. Slightly bitter edge and a long finish. Highly recommended. Suggested pairing: Portobello Turkey Burgers with an Apricot Chutney.
Note: These wines were received as samples.