Spotlight on Alsace: Albert Mann Pinot Gris Grand Cru Furstentum 2008

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Pinot Gris is usually a synonym for insipid due to the torrent of atrocious high-yield quality-unconscious production of this grape from wine regions far and wide, including our own backyard.

Pinot Gris from a Grand Cru vineyard in Alsace, on the other hand, calls for serious attention.

A Unique Shade of Grey

A mutation of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris bears pretty much no similarity when it comes to flavour despite looking quite similar on the vine. Plantings in Alsace are quite minimal, with only a few hundred hectares under vine. Despite this, Pinot Gris is one of the three grapes in the Alsatian “noble triumvirate” – the others being Gewurztraminer and Riesling.

I could talk about many technical aspects of winemaking in Alsace – which may happen in the future – but in today’s post I’d like to highlight the unique place that Pinot Gris has in the pantheon of Alsatian whites.

While matching Gewurztraminer for power, Pinot Gris yet finishes quite dry and adds layers of unexpected minerality and spice under all the tropical fruit. This makes it a more successful pairing with egg and onion based tarts, such as Quiche, which are traditional in the region and really taste extremely good with a high end Pinot Gris (particularly Quiche Lorraine).

In some ways it is the sheer density of the wine (despite its textural lushness) that make it unique among Alsace’s whites. There is a singular concentration in the wine’s flavours that I find utterly compelling in the best examples.

The aromas are pure without becoming overwhelming, which adds to the wine’s singularity of purpose. This is certainly a wine that fills a place no others can, and perhaps that’s why I like Alsatian Pinot Gris so much.

But What of Mann?

This is varietally correct wine, made well. There is an incredible spicyness to the nose, with baked apple and other subtle tropical aromas. The palate is classically explosively powerful but also balanced, with all the density of the fruit coupled with Pinot Gris’ unique spicyness. This is great stuff – an excellent wine that hits far above its price point. And I find this far better balanced and more interesting than Mann’s Gewurztraminer from the same vineyard.

Very Good+ to Excellent
$43 at Marquis

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