Alsace Pinot Noir Grand Cru?

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.
IMG_1452968318924Nowadays 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?


Unfettered Freedom

Indian authorities probably don’t drink Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, or else they hadn’t banned cycles from Calcutta’s main roads. They would have known that ‘[t]he advent of affordable transportation for men and women provided them [i.e., these men and women] with an independence and autonomy heretofore unknown.’ They would also have learned that Susan B. Anthony thought bicycles to ‘have done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.’ There is so much wisdom to be found on wine labels.

Anthony, a prominent American civil and women’s rights activist who was arrested in 1872 for voting in the presidential elections, has done a thing or two for women’s emancipation herself. I do hope though she had other means of transportation whilst travelling through the US and Europe and delivering 75-100 speeches a year.

10-Cycles-Gladiator-wine-label-VSSI wonder if she, born a Quaker’s daughter but turning agnostic in later life (or so Wikipedia tells me), would have disapproved of Massias’ 1895 poster to promote a new bicycle for Cycles Gladiator. Alabama did. Its civil servants reviewing wine labels for anything obscene or indecent, deemed the poster-turned-wine-label pornographic and forbade its distribution in 2009. Much to the delight of the company’s sales department.

How did this ‘tribute to that spirit of unfettered freedom’ taste?

Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2011, California, 13,9% alc., ca. £ 9
Brightly coloured, fruity wine with a little sweetness that I didn’t think of as disturbing. Served slightly chilled it will do as an agreeable summer wine.

The name of the UK distributor, you ask? Patriarche Wine Agencies.