Alsatian White Wines, Which to Choose? Winemaker Anne-Laure Helfrich's Favorites

If you're contemplating which specific Alsatian Riesling or Pinot Gris -- or screw it, Gewürztraminer -- to bring to LudoBites, or if like us, you simply think it's entirely too hot to even consider the word "buttery" and white wine in the same sentence (CA Chardonnay, we're talking about you), perhaps it's time for a few Alsatian wine insider tips. Winemaker Anne-Laure Helfrich, whose father launched the Helfrich family winery (focusing on Alsatian whites), was up for the task.

Two generations as a winemaking family in that part of the world still counts as "Now Open" when you've got families like the Trimbachs who have been making Alsatian wines for nearly 400 years. Which means this young winemaker has been racking up a lot of airline miles recently, popping bottles for sommeliers and such who may not have tasted the family's wines.

Squid Ink asked the 23-year-old winemaker to tell us which Alsatian wines she's drinking right now, other than her own. Of course, she included those anyway. But hey, if we were making wine, we'd be drinking it, too (Helfrich's $10 Noble Pinot Gris is the wine she drinks most often when she's cooking at home with her boyfriend). The rules we gave Helfrich were simply that the wines be a good value for the quality (not hard with Alsatian wines, as there are plenty of bargain options) and that they be available in the U.S. (trickier, as many great bargain Alsatian wines are not exported). You can find many at the local retailers below, or ask your wine shop to order them for you. Get Helfrich's picks after the jump.

Note: Prices vary depending on vintage.

Domaine Ostertag Vieilles Vignes, Sylvaner (About $15, K&L Wines)

I like this winegrower for their innovation: The family, like mine, belongs to the "Alsatian Renaissance." They make a modern, stylish Sylvaner with mineral and white fruits flavors, deliciously spicy with ginger notes.

Trimbach Riesling (About $16, K&L Wine)

I couldn't speak about Alsatian wine without mentioning Trimbach, which is a reference point for many generations of Alsatians for Riesling. The style is very typical of the vineyards from Ribeauvillé, traditional, dry and mineral.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling (About $17, Wally's)

The grapes are grown in the Bollenberg vineyards in the south of Alsace [Orschwihr]. Their Riesling has a lively nose, with nice floral and mineral notes, which become elegant and robust.

Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Gewürztraminer (About $20, Wine House)

I love the sweetness of this Gewürztraminer. In Humbrecht wines we [winemakers] recognize the work of winemaker Olivier Humbrecht with the delicacy of the wine.

Marcel Deiss, Muscat (About $29, Wine House)

I like Deiss for the originality and complexity of their wines -- especially the Muscat, with fresh and crispy flavors of lime and pink grapefruit.


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