Most Consistent and Best Quality – Price Rapport White Wine of the Year 2007
Twelve generations of Trimbachs have prevailed since 1626 over this pre-eminent Alsace house, an unbroken line unthinkable in the new world. The collaboration of time-honored knowledge and skills always impresses me. Maison Trimbach commands the greatest respect from fine wine lovers universally. Their Clos Sainte Hune vineyard, which they have owned for two centuries, is the most distinguished single vineyard in Alsace and produces arguably the finest dry riesling in the world.
Equally exceptional are their Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling and Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre Gewurztraminer, augmenting a venerable house style of austerity, precision elegance, balance and dryness, setting them apart from an over- reliance on residual sugars from late-harvest grapes (vendage-tardive), an Alsace trend to achieve added richness and attractiveness. That said, Trimbach also make stunning late-harvest wines.
It is however, Trimbach’s entry-level riesling that impresses me most and merits ‘Most consistent and best quality-price rapport of the year’. Unfailingly consistent and reliable, impeccably made considering the quantities produced and the exceptional value for a single premium varietal, this wine has rescued me on many occasions from a dry argument on wine lists or from gazing at a sea of pedestrian offerings on supermarket shelves.
Terroir Vintage Synopsis
Alsace is the driest wine region in France. Protected by the Vosges Mountains from the inclement westerly weather and for most vintages, there is little measurable rain from September to November, providing long autumnal ripening conditions perfect for white varieties. Given the undulating terrain and tumultuous ancient geology dating back some 600 million years, Alsace has diverse soils and microclimates. Maison Trimbach’s vineyards are centered in and around the village of Ribeauville, and while this is not a single-vineyard riesling, it is planted mainly in classic chalk and lime soils. A warm, sunny spring and summer in the lead up to the 2005 vintage ensured healthy and fully ripe fruit.
However, a cool August proved to be the most significant factor, embedding vibrant acidities, an underpinning character of the vintage, particularly in Riesling, augmented by a purity and elegance that accentuates the minerality and excellence of this year.
Fermented in stainless steel tanks using indigenous yeasts with little intervention from the winemaker. In general, the absence of wood maturation and no malolactic secondary fermentation characters, riesling expresses its spirit of place, or terroir, with more minerality and varietal purity than any other white grape variety; crisp and light yet powerful and racy when fermented dry.
Lime-scented with peachy stone fruit, hints of clover honey, straw fields and chalky characters amongst wet slate and smoked pork. Explosive palate, biting freshly squeezed lemon that fleshes out to grapefruit juiciness and nectarines’ succulence among cold slate earthiness, finishing crisp and chalky-dry with zingy acidity and indelible lingering citrus, wet river stones and zesty pickled ginger spiciness. Touchstone vibrant, bracingly lemon-zesty and crisp bone-dry riesling.
Serving & Food Pairing
Riesling needs to be served well-chilled, particularly in the warmer Asia climates, in my opinion just a few degrees up from Champagne, around 6 to 7 degrees C (43 F) to bring out the freshness and acidity. I can’t think of anything worse in the vinous sense than warm riesling! A tulip style glass is preferable to help concentrate the aromatics. Speaking of aperitif wines, this wine is the perfect palate teaser and sufficiently light and balanced to drink at a party or BBQ and not tire of it.
At the price, it is a smart choice to take along to congenial Thai, Penang or Straits style restaurants to match spicy fare. It is particularly suited to Tom Yum style soups and Thai salads with the limejuice and tangy pomelo and green mango. Equally versatile with hotter green curries and richer dishes, where the acidity plays a vital role, in the same vein that the Alsatians would match this wine to hearty Charcroute to cleanse the palate.
Longevity & Price Point
I am always amazed at how Alsace producers release their rieslings two years after the vintage, the 2005s only just reaching the Asian markets. The new world producers have already begun releasing their 2007s! In this regard, the 2005 Trimbach riesling is already drinking superbly, wonderfully vibrant and refreshing. However, even at this base level of their rieslings, it will benefit from 5 to 10 years in good cellaring conditions and develop more honeyed characters, glycerol richness and texture. If you spot 2004 on the shelves, do not hesitate to buy as this wine as it is also excellent, benefiting from the enhanced natural acidity of the cooler vintage.
At HK$140 retail in Hong Kong, or S$30.80 in Singapore, this represents extraordinary value for money, given the quality. It is normally available at upmarket delicatessen supermarkets throughout Asia, making it the perfect wine for entertainment emergencies, moreover, a ‘Must-Have’ a case in the house and bottles in the fridge at all times. My only gripe is that it is bottled under cork, whereas screwcaps would alleviate some of the perils of wine transport and storage in Asia.
China: ASC Fine Wines, Shanghai, www.asc-wines.com
Hong Kong: Fine Vintage, Tel: +852 2896 6108, or email email@example.com
Also Oliver’s and City Super.
India: Sundeep Vintners, Mumbai Tel: 24376179 firstname.lastname@example.org
Japan: Nippon Liquor, Tokyo, Tel: 81 3 3453 2259
Korea: Daeyoo Wines, Seoul +82-2-7320061
Malaysia: Caldbeck MacGregor, Tel: + 60 3 7956 5155
Singapore: Bacardi-Martini Singapore, Tel: 65 6411 7080 Also available at Cold Storage, NTUC, Jasons Market Place.
Taiwan: Allen Wine & Spirits Co
You will not find a more picturesque and visitor-friendly wine region than Alsace with welcoming cellar doors and charming medieval villages linked by contiguous 100 km of undulating hills and terraced slopes of vines. Best time to visit March through to November.