Baur Pinot Gris Herrenweg 2019
The old tasting room (caveau) for Domaine Francois Baur is a small salon along a cobblestone street in the center of Turckheim, one of Alsace's most important wine villages. About 20 years ago Thomas Baur's grandfather decided to knock out a wall between that room and their winery, connected a third space, then opened a little wistub--a good local fare restaurant serving traditional dishes and of course, pouring his wines.
It was at this "Caveau de Vigneron", over a salt-crusted beef dish and some creamy potatoes, that I first tasted 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 like one can only find on this border region linking France and Germany.
I really love Alsatian wines. They have big, explosive aromatics; they whet the appetite; and have great acidity, perfect for washing down rich, full-flavored food. Yet I scratch my head at why they aren't more popular. Lots of folks seem to want to visit there, yet very often they don't seek out the wines when they return home. Why is that?
Part of it might be the tall thin bottle that screams "SWEEEEET!", yet most of the wines, in fact (like really truly), are not sweet. This enduring myth that all Alsatian (and German) wines are sweet is one of the region's great problems. Recently, a move is afoot to label all Alsatian wines with a sweetness 'meter'. Thomas Baur has begun doing this for all his wines.
Coming to love, enjoy, and appreciate Riesling is a very necessary step in the evolution of every wine lover. It's too bad there's such a negative connotation about Riesling. The mere mention of the variety makes many people screw up their face like it has been suggested they drink a cool glass of flat Mountain Dew laced with rocket fuel.
So when Norm, Yamile and I visited Baur again this past February, Thomas was excited about his 2018's, and drew a glassful from one of his large foudres (big upright barrels) that fill his charming cellar. "This is a wine for dry Riesling lovers", he claimed. "There's no doubt." And he was right. If this can't make you a Riesling lover, nothing will.
I would put Alsatian Riesling up there with other great whites of France like Chardonnay from Chablis, Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, and Sauvignon from Sancerre. Here's one to try that I think will be as surprising to you as it will be delicious: