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04 February 2013

Alsace: Cave de Turckheim: big French co-ops part 2

Riesling 'Brand' from
www.cave-turckheim.com
Continuing this compelling mini-mini-series on large but good French co-op wineries and their wines, which I started on my other blog with this post: Rhône: Cave de Tain: big co-ops part 1... Cave de Turckheim was founded post-War and is a substantial vineyard owner in the must-tour region of Alsace nestling on France's eastern border with Germany, separated by the River Rhein yet sharing certain grape varieties and a long mutual history (not always a happy one, mind you) and aspects of culture (the hearty local food springs to mind). Anyway, you've probably tried a white wine from Turckheim, especially their always consistent Gewurztraminer available under many different guises and own-labels throughout the world. But the winery's 200+ co-op members also own plots in some stunning vineyard sites such as the Brand (meaning 'burnt' in the same sense as the northern Rhone's Cote Rotie, i.e. it gets a lot of sunshine) Grand Cru, as you'll see from my glowing notes on their superb Riesling and other varietals sourced from this steep slope of vines overlooking the twee town of Turckheim. And their 'old-vine' wines can be surprisingly good too, even from a scorned and usually rather characterless variety like Sylvaner. The man in charge of winemaking and vineyards here is Michel Lihrmann, by the way.
I tasted these wines with export director Emmanuelle Gallis on their UK importer's stand, Boutinot Wines, at the London International Wine Fair last year (yet more forgotten-about notes...). Prices quoted below are in euros per bottle for cases of three bought in France cellar door or on-line, to give you an idea. In the UK, their 'standard' Gewurz sells for about £7-£8; so the Pinot would be about £6, I'd guess, the Brands about £15-£17 and going up to £18-£20 for their sumptuous late harvest Gewurz.

2011 Pinot Blanc - nice crisp 'mineral' tones vs light honeyed flavours, has a bit of substance too and attractive fresh bite. €5.45
2009 Sylvaner vieilles vignes - nutty rounded and concentrated vs crisp tight mouth-feel, delicious maturing notes with long tasty finish. Surprising. €5.95
2008 Riesling vieilles vignes - turning oily and mineral edged, intense pure Riesling style with zesty crisp vs oily palate, very long and fine with stylish finish. Classic dry Riesling. €7.95
2007 Riesling Grand Cru Brand - maturing 'kerosene' (!) tones with floral mineral nuances, rich and concentrated, beautiful Riesling style, intense with 'cut' and huge length. Superb. €15.35
2008 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Brand - lush and honeyed, very ripe and full-bodied vs lovely bite and length, spicy rich finish. Delicious again. €15.35
2008 Gewurztraminer vieilles vignes - intense lychee and rose water aromas and flavours, full and rounded vs tight intense and long mouth-feel, crisp vs aromatic 'sweet' fruit. €10.20
2010 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Brand - relatively closed up to start with, very lychee on the palate, big and fruity vs again has freshness and class, powerful too then closes up a little. Needs a few years to develop. €15.95
2008 Gewurztraminer vendanges tardives - oily honeyed aromas with exotic lychee and mango, rich and sweet vs lovely 'cut' and length, beautiful balance and class with fresh acidity vs exotic fruit. €17.50 50cl.

More Alsace producers and wines coming soon: Martin Schaetzel and Eblin-Fuchs.
And previously on this blog: Juilen FreyEguisheim co-opBeer of the moment: FischerAndré KleinknechtDomaine Josmeyer and several more in this 2007 piece: Organically focused on Alsace Riesling...

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