Alsace may be best known for its racy and perfumed whites, but as we have witnessed in the last few years, the region has serious potential to produce fine Pinot Noir, too. A dry and increasingly warm climate, along with myriad soil types that give rise to diverse expressions of the grape, make Alsace the source of some truly impressive reds, which often come at great value. At Kuentz Bas, winemaker Samuel Tottoli sources his Pinot Noir from vineyards of marl and limestone in the village of Husseren-les Châteaux. Thanks to the beautifully ripe, healthy harvest in 2015, he was able to vinify using a large proportion (roughly half) of whole grape clusters, without de-stemming. This semi-carbonic maceration—a technique traditionally employed in Beaujolais—gives loads of lively, juicy fruit, notes of sweet spice, and dangerously supple tannins. The wine was then aged in foudres and bottled without filtration. Watch out: this Pinot goes down way too easily.
Kuentz-Bas France | Alsace | Alsace Grand Cru
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.
When buying red Burgundy, I think we should remember:
1. Big wines do not age better than light wine.
2. A so-called great vintage at the outset does not guarantee a great vintage for the duration.
3. A so-called off vintage at the outset does not mean the wines do not have a brilliant future ahead of them.
4. Red Burgundy should not taste like Guigal Côte-Rôtie, even if most wine writers wish it would.
5. Don’t follow leaders; watch yer parking meters.
Inspiring Thirst, page 174