Sunday, April 6, 2014

2011 Domaine Roland Schmidt, Pinot Gris – Alsace

One of the white wines that still remain elusive to me in a blind tasting is Alsatian Pinot Gris. I have yet to get firmly into my head a definitive profile of this wine from this region so that I recognize a Pinot Gris from Alsace when I encounter one. It seems at this point that I am more likely to identify a Pinot Gris by what it is not, rather than by what it is. So, if I am smelling and tasting a white wine that I know is from an old world cooler region and I know it isn’t Riesling, Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau or Grüner Veltliner then I have to conclude that it may be Pinot Gris.

One of the particular challenges is that the wine by its very nature is somewhat nebulous without its own unique identity and I find there to be too many variations in the style in which it is made.

The 2011 Domaine Roland Schmidt, Pinot Gris is a clear white wine, straw-gold, low intensity and concentration with low viscosity. On the nose it subtle to moderate intense aromas of rose water, white apples, pears, and melon but it is the floral notes that dominate the nose. It reminds me of rose scented floral soap and I don’t think I have ever experienced a Pinot Gris with this particular profile. The closest wine that I have had like this was a Riesling we tasted in class at ICC when we were studying Austria, the 2009 Nikolaihof Riesling SteinerHund Reserve – Wachau.

On the palate the floral component carries over but there is more fruit with flavors of green apples, lemon-lime, and hints of white pepper that remind me of many Grüner Veltliners that I have experienced. It is dry and crisp with medium+ to high acidity, medium bodied with moderate alcohol and a fairly long finish with reoccurring notes of rose petals, spice and lime. 

Now, compare these notes with the 2010 Albert Boxler, Pinot Gris from Alsace that I tasted in class at ICC last November :

This is a clear white wine, star-bright and golden-yellow with moderate viscosity. On the nose it is clean and yet with subtle notes of mustiness and moderate aromas of bruised and over-ripe apples, canned pears, and orange blossoms with yeasty notes of graham crackers, honey and oranges. On the palate it is off-dry, medium bodied with medium+ acidity and a medium+ length finish. 

They are both a Pinot Gris from Alsace but radically different in their profile.

The 2011 Domaine Roland Schmidt, Pinot Gris is a wine I would like to taste again side-by-side with a Grüner Veltliner and a Riesling from Austria and I may do so in the very near future. It sells for about $15-$18 per bottle.

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