While Alsace is predominantly a white wine–growing region, roughly ten percent of its vineyard land is planted to Pinot Noir. This has typically gone toward the production of sparkling whites and rosés, but recently Alsatian reds have been gaining significant momentum, as ambitious vignerons seek to take advantage of the increasingly warm climate to craft serious red wines. Furthermore, the varied soil types on the eastern flank of the Vosges give many expressions of the grape. Félix Meyer of the historic Meyer-Fonné house sources his from vineyards of limestone, marl, and sandstone, then ages the wine in neutral oak barrels. The outcome is this deep Pinot Noir that does not try to emulate those from Burgundy but instead wears a distinctive terroir stamp of Alsace: deep, spicy, resinous, and reminiscent of a walk in the forest after a rain. Still very young, this 2016 should be decanted or opened a few hours beforehand to allow its stern structure to soften and reveal all the wine’s charms.
Félix Meyer is a rising star in Alsace and has an evident instinct for his craft. Since taking over in the family domaine 1992, Félix has already left his own mark, modernizing equipment in the winery, developing export sales, and now expanding the family’s holdings in many of Alsace’s great vineyard sites, including several grand crus. It’s all about the details at Meyer-Fonné, with an emphasis on tradition and respect for terroir. The winery and family home is in the village of Katzenthal, known for its distinctive granite soils. Racy and elegant, his wines are difficult to resist young but have all the right qualities for the cellar. For aromatic and textural seductiveness, no one in Alsace can top Meyer-Fonné.
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.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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