Sunday, November 10, 2019

A tasting of selected F. E. Trimbach wines with Jean Trimbach and George Miliotes MS at Wine Bar George (Orlando, FL)

I have been a fan of Trimbach wines since an epic, Jean-Trimbach-led tasting of the estate's high flyers (Clos Ste Hune, "Cuvée Frédéric Emilé") at the 2015 edition of TEXSOM. The quality of the wines, and Jean's dry-humor presentation style, render Trimbach tastings must-attend events. Jean recently brought his wines and style to a tasting at Orlando's Wine Bar George. I report on that tasting in this post.

The tasting was late getting started due to a delay in Jean transiting from a Disney event to Wine Bar George. That fact was quickly buried once Jean took the microphone into his hands.

Jean Trimbach and George Miliotes MS

The Trimbach family has been making wines in Alsace since 1626 and, according to Jean, three generations are currently involved in the functioning of the enterprise: the 11th generation, Bernard and Hubert, remain integrally involved in the business; the daily operations are managed by the 12th generation, the brothers Pierre and Jean; and Anne and Julien, members of the 13th generation, have recently entered the business.

Jean was fulsome in his praise of the microclimate governing the Alsace vineyards. He especially mentioned the Vosges Mountains which serves to protect the vineyards from cold winds and also, through its rainshadow effect, minimizes the amount of rainfall to which the area is exposed.

Trimbach's 55 ha of vineyards are located primarily in Ribeauvillé and surrounding towns (limestone-dominant soils) with a 2-ha plot in the granitic Grand Cru of Schlossberg. The distribution of the Trimbach vineyards are shown in the chart below.

As shown in the table below, Trimbach produces a wide array of wines. In general, the estate hand-harvests at maximum ripeness and transports the resulting fruit to the winery for further processing. At the winery the grapes are gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel -- and/or concrete vats -- for 2 to 3 weeks. The wine is bottled early to preserve freshness and retained in the cellar for a number of years before release on the market.

The figure below shows the subset of Trimbach wines that were included in the tasting.

Tasting Lineup

The first flight was comprised of the 2014 F. E. Trimbach Pinot-Gris "Réserve" and the 2012 Pinot-Gris "Réserve Personnelle" paired with a Big Board of Charcuterie.

The Big Board

According to Jean, Pinot Gris is a natural mutation from Pinot Noir and is very sensitive to rot. It takes on sugar rapidly and ripens easily. Fruit for the Réserve is sourced from estate and grower vineyards while the Réserve Personnelle is made from estate fruit only. 2014 was not an easy vintage, visited as it was by heavy rains and grey rot. In comparison, 2012 was a serene vintage.

The "Réserve Personnelle" was harvested close to vendages tardives (late harvest) level. This wine had a golden color with sweet white fruit and a honeyed nose. Rich, thick, honeyed on the first pass, giving way to a chalky minerality with citrus skin and spice.

The 2014 Réserve was fermented in a mix of stainless steel and concrete vats. Mustier smelling than its stable mate with lower levels of honey. More acid on the palate with a hint of oxidation. Relatively austere. Lime and a chalky finish.

The second flight included a 2015 Riesling Réserve and a 2015 Riesling Sélection de Vieilles Vignes, paired with a Frisée Salad.

Frisée Salad

Jean stipulated that 50% of Trimbach's production is Riesling. The 2015 vintage experienced very hot conditions but the grapes surprised winemakers by retaining high levels of acidity.

All grapes for the Riesling Réserve were rigorously selected from Trimbach vineyards in and around Ribeauvillé. The wine shows a waxiness, dried herbs, lime, and stone fruits on the nose. Light and crisp with a lengthy finish. Jean sees this wine as the steelier of the two.

The Vieilles Vignes label was produced for the first time in 2009 and the wine is always "softer" than the Réserve. Grapes were sourced from 50-year-old vines grown on marl and limestone parcels in Ribeauvillé-area vineyards. This wine had a clean nose with a lime-infused freshness, stone fruit, and minerality. Powerful and concentrated on the palate with a hint of pear. A lengthy mineral finish.

Next up was the 2011 Gewürtztraminer "Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre", accompanied by Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites.

Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites

Named in honor of the Lords of Ribeaupierre -- governors of Alsace during the Middle Ages -- this cuvée is only produced when the vintage is deemed to be of high enough quality. Grapes for this wine were sourced from 40-year-old vines from Ribeauvillé vineyards -- including Grand Cru Osterberg parcels.

Jean noted that 2011 had been a ripe vintage. The wine showed faded lychée and honeysuckle on the nose. Delicate and elegant on the palate. Balanced, with a lengthy finish.

The final dry-wine flight was the 2010 Riesling "Cuvée Frédéric Emile" and 2016 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, both paired with an Ibérico Pork Pluma.

Iberico Pork Pluma

Grapes for the Riesling "Cuvée Frédéric Emile" were handpicked from the Geisberg and Osterberg Grand Cru vineyards. On the nose, petrol, citrus, and white flowers. Citrus, minerality and good acid levels on the palate. Medium weight. Mineral finish.

Schlossberg is the largest (80 ha) of the Alsace Grand Crus and Trimbach owns 2 ha therein. It was the first granitic vineyard that the estate owned so they had to learn its characteristics. Over time they have reduced the yields and have increased wine quality as a result. Only 400 cases are produced annually.

Restrained on the nose with hints of lemon-lime and petrol. Also restrained on the palate. Faded citrus and a mineral finish. I liked this wine a lot.

The dessert pairing was the 2007 Gewürtztraminer "Vendanges Tardives" with an Orange Blossom Trifle.

Orange Blossom Trifle

This late-harvest Gewürtztraminer is made with grapes sourced from Grand Cru Osterberg in Ribeauvillé and very old vines planted at the Muelforst site in Hunawihr. Lychee, apricot, peaches, and honey on the nose. Fresh and elegant, with purity of fruit. Honeyed, with a lengthy finish.

Jean Trimbach and the author

Wine Bar George staffers

Group pic

This was a wonderful tasting. The wines showed well, Jean showed well, the food was excellent, and the group's rendition of "Bring back my Trimbach to me" -- led, of course, by Jean, was memorable.

I have been to a few of these tastings at Wine Bar George and I am pleased at the commitment that George has shown by leveraging his contacts and acquaintances into high-quality tasting experiences for Orlando residents.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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