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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > FRANCE: Alsace

Winner Details

FRANCE: Alsace


A fledgling category, Alsace managed a solid, rather than inspiring performance, with the Cave de Turckheim the undoubted star

Alsace has always previously formed a cosy triumvirate with the other members of the Riesling Brotherhood, Germany and Austria. But this year we decided to give it its own slot in France, where, after all, it belongs.

There is always something of a problem with Alsace in that sommeliers tend to love it, but, with its flute bottles and Germanic names, it remains a long way off the radar of most customers. ‘Alsace Riesling has to be a hand sell,’ said Etrusca’s Luigi Buonanno.

Entries were steady rather than spectacular – which (rather like Sherry) makes you wonder where the Alsatians are planning to sell their wines, if not in the on-trade. But while our tasters weren’t exactly spoiled for choice, they still found decent medal-worthy examples of all the region’s two signature varieties, with a particularly strong showing from the Cave de Turckheim.

The region’s powerhouse co-op rather selfishly picked up both Alsatian Golds and one of the three Silvers, with its old vine Gewurz also helping itself to a Food Match award for a heroic rearguard action against a particularly poky Thai Green Curry.

Alsace hasn’t often managed to trouble the scorers with its Pinot Blancs or Pinot Gris, and, bar a heartening Silver for Jean Marie Hagg’s Pinot Gris, it was the same story again here, with Riesling the region’s star grape. Though even here the tasters were reluctant to dish out too many places on the Gold List for a region whose wines don’t exactly walk off the list unaided. And when it came down to it, value for money was the key.

‘At this price point you could sell the Cave de Turckheim Riesling By the Glass, to match crustacea and shellfish, and introduce customers to the world of Riesling,’ said Buonanno.

‘Alsatian wines are a big struggle. There isn’t a particular customer for them.’ Angus Macnab, consultant