Good tidings were brought by a few Pinot Noir makers in Alsace. Now that quality and quantity have improved, they will apply for the grand cru status for this noble grape, the official noble grapes at this moment being Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Zotzenberger Sylvaner. Though Alsace is perceived as a dominantly white wine region, which is hardly surprising, reds have always been made and were sometimes highly valued. Documents have been digged up by the initiators that state that in the 15th and 16th centuries the reds from Rouffach were more expensive than the whites, which we obviously should recognize as proof of their superior quality.
Past performances can have a long influence, as the Bordeaux classification shows, but at the time the Alsace classification was established Pinot Noir was not deemed worthy. The grape was used only for Crémant or for light rosé-like summer wines.
My first encounters with Alsace Pinot Noir were in that area: light-bodied, sometimes greenish, at best served slightly chilled with a plate of charcuterie. That is okay, but okay does not nearly qualify for grand cru.
Nowadays some vintners have made serious work of this difficult variety and are trying a more Burgundian style. More skin contact, (old) oak barrels. I would say they are successful. Last summer I visited Cave de Turckheim. Their Pinot Noir was a revelation, showing it can be done, making high quality Pinot.
Pinot noir fût de chêne 2011, Cave de Turckheim, AOC Alsace, 13,5%vol, ca. € 12
In the nose red berries, a little vanilla. Relatively full-bodied, cherries, spices. Very tasty.
So who says: ‘Lack of acidity and complexity often prevent Alsatian pinot noir from achieving anything more than pleasant, easy drinking, quality levels’? Wikipedia does. About time to edit that piece of information, wouldn’t you say?