Ambitious producers like the young Samuel Tottoli at Kuentz-Bas are putting Alsace back on the map after years spent in the shadows due to poor communication and mass production of cheap bulk wine. There is no question, however, that this is one of France’s finest white-wine-producing regions: flanking the eastern side of the Vosges, this dry, sunny landscape is home to a number of soil types where noble grapes like Riesling and Pinot Gris reach dazzling heights. In the picturesque town of Husseren-les-Châteaux, Samuel seeks to bring out the best of the local terroir by farming biodynamically and using low-intervention, traditional methods in the cellar. For the domaine’s entry-level Riesling, that means a slow fermentation with indigenous yeasts in ancient oak foudres with full malolactic fermentation. These techniques yield a bright, fleshy, and stony dry white with bountiful exotic fruit and floral nuances. The balance, freshness, and lovely perfume make it a godsend at table.
More than two hundred years of tradition and vineyard pedigree have made the wines of Kuentz-Bas perennial favorites. However, when the family sold the property to famed vigneron Jean-Baptiste Adam in 2004, many wondered what direction the new team would take. Adam, like the estates former owners, has a reputation for being an advocate of Alsatian terroir, and he is the fourteenth generation to continue a family winemaking tradition that began as early as 1614. Winemaker Samuel Tottoli puts a strong emphasis on both terroir and accessibility. The wines are more open than ever while still reflecting the unmistakable character of the vineyards that clients have come to expect from Kuentz-Bas.
Tragically, Alsace might be the most misunderstood wine region of France. In spite of its long history of viticulture and tremendous diversity of pedigreed terroirs, a past fraught with marketing mishaps has left consumers baffled as to what exactly to expect inside one of these mysterious tall, thin bottles.
The good news, on the other hand, is that a new wave of quality-oriented growers is working hard to put Alsace in its rightful place as one of the world’s most fascinating sources of fine white wine. By embracing tradition, respecting terroir, and making a concerted effort to better communicate the countless virtues their wines have to offer, they have succeeded in putting Alsace back on the map.
Crafted from a number of grape varieties and beautifully interpreting the region’s mosaic of soil types, our Alsace imports are by and large dry whites offering exceptional versatility at table. While each of these selections is ready to be uncorked tonight, the finest among them are also capable of maturing for many, many years in a cool cellar. Expect kaleidoscopic aromatics, lively acidities, and loads of terroir transparency in these skillfully crafted masterpieces. Enjoy a foray into the thrilling world of the world’s most underrated wine region, and certainly do not hesitate to contact our sales staff with any questions as you take off on this mouth-watering adventure.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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