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Riesling is unquestionably one of the world’s finest grape varieties, and it certainly deserves the rich praise and lofty position it enjoys around the world. Yet, the appreciation for Riesling has somehow bypassed many American consumers. Riesling is likely the most misunderstood grape varietal in the United States, due at least in part to the predominance of inexpensive, low alcohol sweet Rieslings from Germany that pervaded the American market for decades. But not all Rieslings are created equal and not all Rieslings are sweet. For starters, Rieslings from France’s Alsace bear little resemblance to the inexpensive German Rieslings of yesteryear. Furthermore, great Riesling the likes of Emile Beyer’s 2010 Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg Riesling are meant to be drunk with a splendid meal, rather than slugged down at a party. In Emile Beyer’s 2010 Eichberg Grand Cru Riesling, one encounters a youthful, large scaled wine with an enthralling bouquet of orchard fruits, deep down fruit and mineral flavors to tantalize the palate, and bracing acidity that will easily carry the wine into the next decade. Yes, there is fruit in this Grand Cru Riesling, but there’s plenty of natural acidity in the wine to dispel the notion that this is sweet wine. As one sips the 2010 Eichberg Riesling, a wealth of laser like scents and savors emerge, including hints of apple blossom, almond, and lemon zest. This is no low alcohol wilting flower of a Riesling. Consequently, we suggest you afford this buxom beauty time to breathe, as you would a fine red wine, before serving it moderately chilled (40º-45º F). Even better, give this young Grand Cru Riesling an extra year or more in bottle for a whole other taste experience, as no white wine metamorphoses quite like great Riesling. A Votre Santé!
Asian cuisine, artfully crafted Fusion dishes, and sophisticated seafood choices pair extremely well with Emile Beyer’s 2010 Grand Cru Riesling. As this is no wimpy Riesling, it can also hold its own with a good dose of heat and spice. In fact, we think Grand Cru Alsace wines are truly at their best when pushed to perform. Consequently, artichokes, asparagus, and various spices that often pose problems when paired with lesser white wines find good company in Beyer’s 2010 Eichberg Riesling. Tilapia, prepared with tomatoes, artichokes, and olives and Grilled Monk Fish, served with a mango and citrus chutney provide excellent foils for this wine, without overpowering it. Lightly Curried Shrimp or even Jamaican Coconut Shrimp provide other tasty accompaniments. Traditional Alsatian favorites such as Choucroute Garnie (ham, pork ribs, and sausage cooked in sauerkraut and served with spicy mustards), Quiche Lorraine, leek tarts, country pâtés, and pork roasts offer tried and true accompaniments to Christian Beyer’s Eichberg Riesling as well. And if all else seems to be too much fuss, full-flavored cow’s milk cheeses respond well to this wonderful Riesling. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest moderate chilling of Beyer’s Eichberg Riesling (40°-45° F). Enjoy!
Domaine Emile Beyer and nearly five centuries of history in Alsace remain intertwined. Since the year 1580 at least 14 generations of the Beyer family have cultivated vines in the picturesque village of Eguisheim, unquestionably one of the greatest wine communes in Alsace. Each successive generation of Beyers, profoundly rooted in the vineyard and land, have in turn passed on their passion for wine to the next generation. And we wine lovers are the beneficiaries. Moreover, since the coming of age of Christian Beyer, the domain’s present guardian, Beyer’s wines have ascended to an even higher level of quality
Under the present leadership of youthful Christian Beyer, the venerable domaine of Emile Beyer cultivates 17 hectares (37.5 acres) of prime vineyards in Eguisheim, including two Grand Cru sites, from which Beyer fashions exceptional wines. This month’s feature is one of Beyer’s extraordinary Grand Cru wines. “Giving happiness, with elegant wines: this is what I take pride in doing,” is Christian Beyer’s mantra, and by all accounts he succeeds in doing just that. From estate vineyards Beyer produces an enviable portfolio of wines, which include outstanding Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. Muscat, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir also figure highly in the mix. In short, there is no dearth of fine wine from Domaine Emile Beyer.
Alsace is quite possibly the most picturesque wine region in all France. It is an enchanted land of beautifully restored half-timbered houses, flower bedecked balconies and window boxes, and of course vineyards. Alsace is bounded by the Vosges Mountains to the west, which block out the dreary maritime weather that plagues so much of the rest of northern France, and the Rhine River and Germany to the east. On account of its favored position and corresponding climate, Alsace is the sunniest province in northern France. This extra sunshine makes Alsace an ideal spot for the cultivation of the vine and the production of premium wines.
In Alsace, white wine reigns supreme. This is a matter of local preference and tradition, in spite of the province’s production of some very noteworthy Pinot Noir wines and the contemporary clamor for red wine. Pinot Blanc is the staple of Alsace, where it makes a fresh, flavorful wine of considerable merit. Alsace also crafts some of the world’s most compelling white wines from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris – the vast majority of which are made dry rather than sweet. The relative dryness of most Alsatian wines may come as a surprise to many, especially to those for whom German sounding names and tall thin green bottles are synonymous with sweetness. However, Alsatian wines are unique unto themselves and rarely do they resemble their German counterparts in style, flavor, or level of residual sugar. Robert Parker Jr. has called the wines of Alsace “some of the greatest white wines produced on the planet,” and some of the most pleasurable and hedonistic, too, we are pleased to add.
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