The Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvee Balthazar, an Alsatian white, offers terroir and varietal character at a more than a fair price
One reason why the Wine Curmudgeon buys so much wine to review is that too many of the samples I get taste like bowdlerized plonk. And yes, if you don’t know bowdlerized, click the link. It’s worth knowing. Those wines are the reason why I bought the Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvee Balthazar.
Best yet, this is an Alsatian wine that’s actually affordable. Producers in this part of France used to export great cheap whites (remember when the Hugel Gentil cost $10 and not $16?), but prices started going up before the recession, when all “high-end” French wine became more expensive.
So don’t miss the chance to buy the Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvee Balthazar ($13, purchased, 13%). Riesling is the most common Alsatian white, but the region makes excellent pinot blanc, too. These wines are drier, but not especially rich or tart. The Albrecht pinot blanc offers pear fruit, a fresh and appealing body, and a long, stony finish. The bottle was gone much too quickly.
Highly recommended. Pair this with any summer salad or grilled seafood or chicken.
Imported by Foley Family Artisan Imports & Spirits
When I started doing this, Alsatian wine was one of the world’s great values and the Hugel Gentil was $10 Hall of Fame quality wine. Then the euro gained in value against the dollar, the Alsatians didn’t try told the line on price, and that was that. There were still nice wines, but didn’t offer the value they once had.
Fast forward to 2016, when wine value is going to hell in a handbasket. The Hugel Gentil ($13, purchased, 12.5%) is about the same price it was five or six years ago, but given how much junk is out there at $13, it has become a value once again. Which pleased the Wine Curmudgeon, not only because I like the wine but because it once helped someone who didn’t drink much wine impress several business colleagues when she picked it off a confusing wine list.
In this, the Hugel Gentil is an old standby that remains all that it should be — a soft, enjoyable, riesiing-ish blend that is made with riesling as well as most of the white grapes grown in the Alsace region of France. It’s not sweet, but it is comfortable and easy, with ripe white fruit and and a flowery aroma. It’s the kind of wine that fits nicely between all the sweet riesling with cute labels that give riesling a bad name and those gorgeous German rieslings that we can’t afford to buy.
Drink this chilled on its own, or pair with with almost any grilled or sauteed fish.
Rieslings are among the world ?s great wines, sharing many of the qualities that great wines from other regions of the world have: high prices, long aging, and sublime taste. So why do rieslings have such a poor reputation with U.S. wine drinkers? Which is pretty poor, considering that Nielsen reports that we drink three times more white zinfandel than we do riesling.
There are two main reasons for riesling ?s neglect. Until the past couple of years, most of the riesling for sale in the U.S. was German, and much of that was of indifferent quality. But the quality of riesling that ?s available these days has improved dramatically. We ?re not only getting better German wines, but U.S. riesling can be stunningly good. In fact, riesling from places like New York, Michigan and Washington is one of the best-kept secrets of the wine world.
The other reason? Many rieslings are sweet, and Americans have long been taught that sweet wine means bad wine. Which is our loss, since sweet is not a bad thing with riesling. The sweetness occurs naturally, and not like an added bag of sugar. In this, the sweetness is part of the wine, something that is balanced by the fruitiness and acidity. And not all rieslings are sweet — they come in varying degrees of dryness, and some are as dry as chardonnay. The leading producers, knowing the challenge they face, have started to label riesling by sweetness, so that it ?s easy to tell a dry wine from a sweet one. More, after the jump: