Baur Cremant d'Alsace
The old tasting room (caveau) for Domaine Francois Baur is a small room along a cobblestoned street in the center of Turckheim. About 20 years ago Thomas Baur's grandfather decided to knock out a wall between that room and the winery, connected a third space and opened a little wistub--a good local fare restaurant serving traditional dishes and of course, pouring his wines.
It was at the "Caveau de Vigneron", over a salt-crusted beef dish and some creamy potatoes, that I began tasting Thomas' wines. He knew what he was doing by having me do this. Outside of tasting directly in the vineyard, there's no better way to enjoy wines like these--with a big plate of good stick-to-your-ribs food.
This is why I really love Alsatian wines. They have big, explosive aromatics; they whet the appettite; and have great acidity, perfect for washing down rich, full-flavored food.
Our 90 minute lunch turned into a 5 hour visit including a balade des vignes (vineyard walk) and a grand degustation (full and complete tasting) of about 30 wines. And that's how to pass an afternoon in January in Alsace.
There is no better refreshing treat than a "coup de Crémant" before, during, or after a meal. And Thomas' takes the cake. Often an afterthought for many an Alsatian winery, this one almost seems like Baur's flagship wine, with more farming detail going into the bottle than is typical. Thoroughly delicious.