Hello friends. There’s something about Alsace in autumn that sets the heart aflutter.
A red steeple rises above umber-shaded vineyards. Tiny villages sit amidst rolling hills of golden vines. Winemakers harvest their grapes and then retreat into cozy restaurants where they’re served food like this, or like this.
Certain wines are especially evocative in certain seasons, and Alsace in autumn is one.
This region (location here) sits on the border between France and Germany and has belonged to both nations at various times. It is shaped by its boundaries. To the east sits the Rhine River. To the west, the Vosges mountains, which soak up any maritime influence that blows in, keeping Alsace nice and dry compared to its neighbors. The focus is almost entirely on aromatic white wines. They tend to be full-bodied and unoaked, presenting thrilling, spicy fruit character and ethereal, haunting scents.
They can also be extremely expensive, but today I want to focus on some values: the Princes Abbes wines from Domaine Schlumberger.
Schlumberger has among the largest vineyard holdings of any domaine in Alsace, and it allows them to work with estate fruit only, something of a rarity in the region. Founded in 1810 by Nicolas Schlumberger (this guy), the domaine is now on its 7th generation, in the form of Séverine Schlumberger, the current winemaker (the one in the middle of this picture).
Their Prince Abbes range is meant to showcase typicity at reasonable tariffs. Each of today’s three wines presents a fine introduction to what you should expect from these Alsatian varietals:
2010 Domaine Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Princes Abbes
12.5% alcohol and bone-dry, this drinks something like an unoaked Chardonnay, with peaches and melons and steely, flinty subtleties. Medium-bodied, with classy texture and good intensity for the tariff.
2009 Domaine Schlumberger Pinot Gris Princes Abbes
This has just a pinch of residual sugar (10.5 g/l, or 1.05%) and clocks in at 13.4% alcohol. In the mouth, this drinks awfully close to dry, a swirling mass of green tree fruit (apple and Bartlett pear), gravelly minerals, and spice. Those food pictures above are crying out for this wine.
2008 Domaine Schlumberger Riesling Princes Abbes
This starts with a nose of smoke and peaches and honey, transitioning to a palate that is 12.3%-alc and bracingly-dry. Look for more peaches and lemon on the palate, along with an insistent earthy character, something minerally and lively.
First come first served up to 24 bottles total (mix and match as you like). The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be available for pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.