Aging in Alsace

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Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow
Posts: 6418
Joined: April 29th, 2010, 1:36 pm

Aging in Alsace

#1 Post by Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » January 27th, 2011, 1:50 pm

Florian,

Today there was a big snow on the east coast of the US, so I took the opportunity to do some organizing in my cave. I have a section (the biggest one) where I keep the wines that I think are "ready" or nearly ready to drink (whatever that really means). So, I moved some Boxler '99 rieslings, some Trimbach '96, '97 and '98 cuvee Frederic Emile and some Barmes '98 and '99 Hengst and others into the "ready" area. I guess this is when I think most rieslings from Alsace are really at their best: about 10 years on. I also think the pinot noirs are best then, too, though I only have Barmes' from '98 forward to 2005. Since the pinot gris and gewurtz have been sweeter in the last 15 years, it doesn't matter to me as much how old they are. But, I also like to age my sylvaner and pinot blancs/auxerrois for 6-8 years minimum, too. I have occasionally had a wine I thought was too old, but very rarely. Even some 1983s are still fine, in my opinion. (It was the year I first visited the region..on my honeymoon.)

I tell all of this to ask you, what you think about the "prime" drinking time for various grapes' wines...as well as the maximum it is safe to age them....and, also, what you think others in the wine business in Alsace think about this?

I know general rules are just that...and that there are many factors like one's taste, the vintage and the degree of acidity and r.s. which factor in..but.....what do you think and hear from those who have been around longer than you?

Florian BECK-HARTWEG
Posts: 155
Joined: October 28th, 2010, 1:18 pm
Location: Dambach La Ville, Alsace, France

Re: Aging in Alsace

#2 Post by Florian BECK-HARTWEG » January 27th, 2011, 2:27 pm

Nice to have that question Stuart, because many people don't know that we can age white Alsace that long: but I see that you know it, so not much to ad from me!
I think that it mostly depends on what type of wine it should be: fresh/fruity wines have to be drunk soon, concentrated/mineral/terroir wines can age more, of course. Regarding your Trimbach, Boxler, Barmes Buecher rieslings, these are all wines that you can keep for very long time. No problem to age them for another 10 years. As you mentionned, 83 is now drinking very well (it was a very good year), and the three consecutive great vintages 1988/89/90 are now perfect also! No interrest to keep them all as long, I'm not sure they become much better, but it is so interesting to keep just a few bottles for the experience. So for the bottles you mentionned, I would keep 1 or 2 of each and drink the others.
For the sweet Pinot Gris and Gewurz, if you like them sweet, it is better to drink them after around 5 years, if you want them to become dry you have to wait 10 to 15 years.
Concentrated Pinot Noirs like Barmes's one should be perfect after around 10 years (98 should be great now!), but I wouldn't keep them much longer. Light ones are better after just 2-5 years, on the fresh/fruity side.
I think most of good producers will tell you that you shouldn't drink their terroir wines before at least 5 years, more if possible. "Classic" producers, who produce light/fruity wines, will tell you to drink them young. But globally if you compare with Germany, for example mosel, people here are more used to age the wines. If I let them taste my 5 years old FRANKSTEIN Riesling, they would tell me it is too old because it doesn't has the fruit/floral aromas any more, and for me it would still be too young!

Florian
Domaine Florian Beck Hartweg

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