Edgar is just back from Alsace... here's his report. "Patrick Pigny, Joe Wadhams, Cyriaque Lajoinie and I all partook of unbelievable wines and hospitality from our irrepressible host: Jean Trimbach. But what did we learn?
1. In theory we already knew that Trimbach’s house style is about elegance and ease of matching to food. In practice, this tasting really helped illustrate the nuances. Trimbach elegance does not just mean dryness, but it is more about depth rather than superficiality meaning that the wines generally don’t explode with fruit aromas, but there is a lot of fruit in the background (NB forget cold fermentation temperatures, here we are around 21C). With the Rieslings, this means dryness, linearity, mouthwatering acidity and minerality. The Pinot Gris is never cloying, and more about texture than weight. As for those confusing Gewurz’s: it would be misleading to say that they do not explode with fruit, lychees and rose petals, because that’s what the variety does, but Trimbach avoids aromatic excess. It goes without saying that none of the wines has any overt wood influence (the wines are bottled in the spring after the harvest). 2. Not exploding with fruit, but having plenty in the background is perhaps what makes the wines incredibly good at ageing. We went for little walk into the Grand Cru Geisberg, which produces grapes for Frédéric Emile. A view of storks’ nests, gingerbread houses and geraniums spread out below us as we tasted a mini vertical of 1995 and 2008 Frédéric Emile. This wine just gets better and better. The fruit richness and depth take time. Another treat was a bottle of 1971 VT Gewurz, which happens to be my birth year. Probably ageing better than me. This ability to age makes it logical to drink the wines later and our current vintages of the classic range bear this out: Pinot Blanc 2008, Riesling just moved to 2010, Gewurz just about to move to 2010. 3. Ability to age is also about energy when young. The brightness of the acidity of all the 2010 wines really illustrates this. Like having a transfusion of your own blood. 4. Gewurztraminer and soft cheese (especially washed-rind) is sublime. We destruction tested this proposition with three cheeseboards in 24 hours – one of which had a line up of four different Munsters at different stages of maturity. I had never had a vertical of washed-rind cheese before, so this was a revelation which the Gewurz complemented to perfection. The softness of the cheese is matched by the unctuous texture of the wine and the aromatics work really well with the headiness of the Munster.
Pinot Blanc 2010 (Our current vintage is 2008) 70% Pinot Auxerrois. Pears on nose and bright 2010 acidity. Rounded. Harmonious.
Pinot Blanc 2009 (Our current vintage is 2008) Mineral nose, with smoother acidity than 2010. Textured body.
Pinot Noir Réserve 2010 (This is our current vintage) Bright colour and acidity (2010 again....). Light. No oak. Wild raspberries. Lunchtime wine, or pair with fish.
Riesling 2010 (This is our current vintage) Riesling typicity on nose. High, bright acidity. Energy and minerality. Pink grapefruit. 12.8% alcohol. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Salivant! Pretty dry, firm and lip-smacking. Lots of confident sucky-stone character. Excellent. Long. 17/20”
Riesling Réserve 2010 (moving to this vintage soon) 100% from old vines in Ribeauvillé. Dry, mineral, high, bright acidity. Very powerful structure. 13.0% alcohol. Unbelievable structure actually. Around 29 grammes / litre of dry extract and likely to age extremely well. This will be on my staff sales. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Big and smooth and a little less evolved than the regular 2010 Riesling that is such a bargain. It will presumably overtake the latter at some point. 17/20”
Riesling Réserve Vieilles Vignes 2009 (will be offered on a pre-release basis to on-trade customers) Possibly the exception which proves the rule about above comments on style. In the Trimbach context this is super fruit-forward with quince, ripe pears and pineapple sweets. Smoother and rounder than the Réserve 2010. Mineral complexity. Dangerously easy to drink. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Quite evolved nose. Rich and flattering. Off dry. Complex. 17.5/20”
Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2007 (moving to this vintage around January) Still very dry, tight and mineral but can sense that there is an underlying richness to the fruit which is not yet expressed (2007 was a warm, sunny vintage). Jancis Robinson wrote: “Mineral and dense and very very dry. Long. Austere. A very long intense end. 17.5/20”
Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2006 (This is our current vintage) Completely different to the 2007. Darker colour presages botrytis notes leading to a wine which is already opening up. Creamy and rich with apples and custard, white truffles and orange skins. Delicious.
Clos Sainte Hune 2007 (Moving around Spring 2013 - very limited availability although there will be some magnums and other formats - please ask us) Pine needles are the signature note for this 1.2 ha plot and this vintage has them in abundance. Creamy richness on nose and tight but complex palate with layers of lemons, washed stones and mirabelles. Bone dry palate, but with a beguiling sweetness to the fruit flavours. High acidity is very firm now, and indicates a good fifteen years before this wine hits its plateau.
Clos Sainte Hune 2006 (This is our current vintage - very limited availability) Some botrytis notes on the nose. White mushrooms reminiscent of aged Champagne (Jean is a fan of Bollinger and Pol Roger, by the way). Complex custard apple and truffle flavours with softer acidity and texture than 2007. Very long. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Rich but bone dry. Some honey yet steely too. Mid gold. Big, confident. So much tucked in here. Impressive. 18/20”
Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2002 (Available on special request only – please contact sales team) Medium lemon yellow with some hints of gold showing development. Picked a little earlier than usual as botrytis was beginning to spread with the result that the acidity is only now beginning to soften. Of the 7.5g/l total acidity, around one third was malic. Pear and cream aromas. Supremely balanced Jancis Robinson wrote: “Fine, dry. Elegant. Stones and chewy. Pungent. 18/20”
Clos Sainte Hune 1996 (library vintage only) Golden colour with honeyed, oloroso notes on the nose. Very high acidity (even more malic than in 2002). Complex palate with fruit confits, smoke and heather. Impressive to see how the acidity mellows with age and integrates with the fruit flavours.
Cuvée Frédéric Emile 1989 (library vintage only) Burnished gold colour. Creamy palate with a buttery brioche nose. Very complex and savoury with soy, peaches, honey and gingerbread. Dry but rich, round but linear (pretentious paradox, being carried away now).
Pinot Gris Réserve 2009 (moving late spring 2013) Dry (but still 8g RS – adds texture rather than sweetness). Buttery and smoky. Exotic fruits on the palate.
Pinot Gris Réserve 2008 (current vintage) 9g RS, dry. Fruit confit flavours with quince and mango. Fresh medium plus acidity and layered texture.
Pinot Gris Réserve Personelle 2007 (currently on 2005, but moving to 2007 early 2013) Slightly off dry with 11 g RS and 6.7 g total acidity balanced by a rich full body. Layers of texture. A big wine. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Very complex and spiffy on the nose. Then quite rich and ripe on the palate. Lovely now. Very juicy. Lovely already! Quite tight acidity perhaps but I could lap it up very soon. Very focussed. Jean T says it will close down and the juiciness will disappear for a while. Big and bold. Very heady and charming. But still tightly laced too (tasted May 2009) 18”
Gewurztraminer 2010 (moving to this vintage soon) Slightly off dry with 14g RS, 6.2 g total acidity and 14% alcohol balanced by the amazingly bright 2010 acidity. Lychees. Classic by name, classic by nature. Serious.
Gewurztraminer Réserve 2007 (moving to this vintage autumn 2012) Ripe, fruity, soft and spicy. Less sugar than 2010 Classic but has palate perceives more sweetness as acidity is lower – 10g RS, 5.8 g total acidity and 14% alcohol. Aromatics softer and mellower than 2010 Classic’s lychees.
Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 2005 (current vintage) Super accomplished and rounded wine with depth of texture and fruit. Gingerbread, lychees, Jancis Robinson wrote: “Very correct floral nose with a firm backbone. Not a bad price for the age and purity! Refreshing dry finish. Well done! A mineral Gewurz that has not an ounce of flab but is utterly true to the varietal. Long and a challenge to food matches. Light, fresh cheese? Fiona Beckett suggests lobster and ginger with this. Foie gras. Tense. Long. 17.5”
Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive 2007 (have previous vintages in stock) 72g RS , amazing legs. Mangos, pineapple, lemon and spun sugar with a hint of cumin. Deliciously rich. Jancis Robinson wrote: “Actually generally comes from Cuvée des Seigneurs Ribeauvillé but it doesn't say so on the label. At the moment not so eloquent on the nose. Very full and almost oily! Here the potential is close to 18% so it's close to SGN level of ripeness. Big and bold. Lush and round and like chewing a ripe peach. Long and just a hint of bacon fat. 18.5”
Gewurztraminer Séléction de Grains Nobles 2001 (current vintage) Beautiful and complex. Deep gold colour with pastry, apricots, orange marmalade, figs and quince. Complex botrytis flavours. 100g RS and 13.7% alcohol.
Gewurztraminer Séléction de Grains Nobles 2007 (available 2013) Livelier than 2001 (NB no SGN produced 2002-2006). Still very intense. Viscous but not at all heavy. Honey. Fresh flavours of tropical fruit and extremely ripe peaches. Strong botrytis notes. Still needs time. "
Posted by Edgar