To introduce ourselves we are Liz and David. Our profession was optometry but we have always had an interest in wine and a few years ago did wine exams (at roughly GCSE level but with more interesting homework!!)
We like to visit wine regions and have visited amongst others The Loire, Rioja,Southern Rhone, Burgundy, Banyuls , the Moselle etc etc; you get the idea and having sufficient payload for a fair bit of wine now have a reasonably stocked cellar.
Of the wine regions we have visited if we had to pick one as the best it would have to be Al-sace. If you are not familiar with it, Alsace – Lorraine is a region in France on the German border. Over the years it has been passed between France and Germany a number of times but these days is resolutely French albeit with very Germanic place names (Kayserseberg, Turckheim, Eguisheim to name but a few)!
The grapes grown there are mainly whites but with some lighter styled reds and this was a major concern before we left requiring the packing of a number of bottles of emergency reds just in case. At the time we did this trip we were still sitting in a dark room all day asking people if things looked better with lens one or two so time was short and we did our usual quick dash on the peage across northern France in a day and a half (doesn’t everywhere end up being half as far again at least as you think in France). Liz had done her homework lining up wine visits and had arranged on various days a two hour talk in French on biodynamic wine production,a tour of a vineyard with dinner on top of a hill served with wine from the vineyard we were in sitting with that year’s wine queen (magical!) and a talk about wine from different soil types from the same grape variety.
All these visits included tastings and we had several other tastings lined up to stop us getting too thirsty!
Our favourite was the wine from different soil types. The tasting was on the same afternoon as the dogs trip to the vet before returning to the UK and on leaving the vet we set the sat nav for Kintzheim and were on our way. The problem was when we got there no-one had heard of the wine producer even the old bloke on a bike with a beret who looked like he’d been there forever. To cut a long story short we were in Kintzheim but then discovered that the winery was in Kientzheim almost next to the vets!!!! Spot the difference? Yes, one letter “e” and 30 kilometres!
As a result of this little adventure, we arrived at the Paul Blanck domaine late. We were told we were obviously too late for our trip up the hillside but would be given a free bottle of wine instead and could taste what we wanted from their list of about 30 to 40 wines…………….we did our best!!!!. Then they realised we still had time for the trip as the other tasting we had originally booked the same afternoon had been rearranged so would we like to taste some more wine while Philippe (Blanck – the current boss) came back from the bank …….we pressed on. When Philippe returned we went with him in his car up the hillside of the vineyard and he gave us a talk on the soil types and geology of the area. The valley floor is mainly gravel then higher is a layer of clay. The hillside then becomes limestone with granite at the top all formed over millennia by volcanoes, glaciers and erosion. At the top of the hill he produced 4 bottles of wine all from Guwurtzraminer grapes which is one of the classics of the area. We had to taste each in order from the valley floor up the hillside and when we thought we had finished repeat them from the top down!!!
A night was spent in the village car park before driving……hic
So did the wine taste different from the different soils and climates? Yes it honestly did and we were surprised to be able to distinguish such a difference in flavours. Despite usually prefer-ring red wines we fell in love with Gewurtztraminer and Riesling on this trip.
Alsace was a lovely pretty area to visit – the people seemed more welcoming than in more internationally famous wine areas the aires were fantastic. Towns and villages are well pre-served as they were not affected by bombing during World War 2.
We recently invited friends round to try and reduce our wine stocks as we are moving soon to a house with no cellar (a problem still to be solved!). The Gewurtztraminer was the star of the wines – definitely one to try if you never have before but try it with an open mind. You may be pleasantly surprised as we were and it is a great match for spicy foods such as Thai or Chinese.