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Put aside all pre-conceived notions of Riesling, and prepare yourself for the glory of Alsace and the essence of a noble varietal in the 2001 Gustave Lorentz Altenberg de Bergheim Riesling Grand Cru. First, this is not a sweet wine. Secondly, it bears very little relation to its German counterparts that flourish just across the border. Thirdly, it is complex, long, and downright racy. Fourthly, with wines like this, why have Americans taken so long to discover the glories of Alsace, France’s most renowned, almost exclusively white wine producing region? Just one sip of the 2001 Altenberg de Bergheim Riesling should be enough to convince the uninitiated as well as the most ardent of Riesling detractors, of this noble variety’s greatness. Bright, clear, and dressed to please in a pale yellow robe that is reminiscent of the first rays of the morning sun, this Grand Cru Riesling dazzles with its enchanting perfume, a blend of citrus oils, liquefied minerals, and a subtle unctuous quality that seems to define the very best examples of the Riesling varietal. It almost defies description. Long and flavorful, the 2001 Altenberg de Bergheim is one well-endowed Riesling that finishes dry. It exhibits on the palate all the same charm and intensity as its enchanting nose, so what is there not to like? We suggest serving the 2001 Altenberg de Bergheim fairly well chilled, at least initially, and then allowing it to creep slowly towards cool room temperature. This way you are sure not to miss all that this wonderful Riesling has to offer, including the wine’s long racy finish that persists on the palate for a full minute before disappearing. Enjoy!
The 2001 Gustave Lorentz Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru Riesling provides the perfect complement to seafood as well as traditional Alsace favorites. Crab or prawns with avocado, grilled white fish, or an old-fashioned onion or leek tart offer plenty of complement to Lorentz’s flagship offering. Lobster salad, sautéed oysters served in a savory cream based broth, and veal roast provide other tasty treats to highlight this exquisite Alsace Riesling. Duck, goose, sweetbreads, and even pork pair well with the Lorentz 2001 Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru. And for Riesling purists, all that is called for is a clean glass and a special occasion, like tonight, to enjoy this wonderful dry Riesling. Santé!
Gustave Lorentz is a family owned and operated winery that dates to 1836. Today, this fine estate rests in the very capable hands of Georges Lorentz, who fashions a bevy of delicious white wines with some assistance from his “retired” father, Charles. Indeed, it must be true that old winemakers never die; instead, they age to perfection and impart wisdom and knowledge to their children, before gracefully fading away.
The Lorentz winery is one of the largest family owned facilities in Alsace. It encompasses nearly sixty-six acres of premium vineyards in Bergheim, including nearly half of the great Grand Cru vineyard of Altenberg de Bergheim, famous for its extraordinary Riesling, and all of Kanzlerberg, the smallest Grand Cru in Alsace. Bergheim is located along the famous Route de Vin in the very finest section of Alsace, a mere 3 kilometers from Ribeauville and just 5 kilometers from Riquwihr. This is the heart and soul o f Alsace wine country. All Lorentz wines come from the Bergheim area, also known as the Haut Rhin, and express the unique terroir of the region. Lorentz’s top wine is his single vineyard Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim Riesling.
Like most Alsace producers, Gustave Lorentz features several levels of wine from a wide variety of traditional Alsace grapes. The ubiquitous Pinot Blanc provides a steady income and a solid foundation upon which Lorentz has built his domain, as have most other family growers in Alsace. As one would expect, Riesling, Tokay Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer constitute the pinnacle of this estate’s achievement, as they do throughout Alsace. In addition, Lorentz’s wines are featured in many of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Alsace and some of the finest restaurants around the world. From simple vintage cuvees to Reserve and Grand Cru bottlings to the rare late harvest wines known as Vendanges Tardives, Lorentz is dedicated to the fashioning of the highest quality Alsace wines. Vive la différence!
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 carved window boxes, and of course vineyards. It is bounded by the Vosges Mountains to the west, which block out the dreary maritime weather that plagues much of the rest of northern France, and the Rhine River and Germany to the east. On account of its favored climate and position, 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, especially Riesling and Pinot Gris.
In Alsace, white wine reigns supreme. Pinot Blanc is the stable of Alsace, where it makes a fresh, sprightly wine of considerable merit. Nonetheless, the greatness of Alsace lies more typically in the crafting of some of the world’s finest 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 might add.
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