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
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.
? Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Gris 2014 ($17, sample, 13.2%): Needs more time in the bottle, but when this Oregon white is ready in a couple of months, it should be classic, elegant Oregon pinot gris — fresh tropical fruit, rich mouth feel, and long finish.
? Weingut Schnaitmann Lemberger 2012 ($15, sample, 13%): Unfortunately for those of us who like lemberger, a red grape that’s hard to find, this isn’t the answer. There’s lots of red fruit, but this German wine is disjointed and needs something more than just the fruit.
? Rudi Wiest Dry Pinot Blanc 2012 ($12, sample, 12%): This German white was delightful, with candied lime fruit, fizzy acidity, and just a touch sweet. It was everything I hope it would be; the catch being that availability is limited.
This is not the sort of wine that shows up on the blog much, since it's a little pricey and not necessarily easy to find. And, in fact, my tasting notes are not as complete as they should be, since I didn't expect to write about it.
But the more I thought about it, and as distressed as I have been with far too many of the wines that I've tasted this fall, I thought this German white wine worth a review. The Becker pinot blanc ($20, sample) is wine that is not just well made, but made honestly and with passion. It's the antidote for all of the cynical, market-driven wines that I've had to taste, and it was a pleasure to drink.
Becker is one of Germany's best regarded modern producers, and its pinot noirs are compared with some of the best in France. The pinot blanc (or, as Germans call it, Wei erBurgunder) may not get those kind of raves, but it certainly deserves its own. It's a lush wine that somehow combines rich fruit (apricot, candied lemon) with the crispness and minerality typical of German wine. At 12 1/2 percent alcohol, it's dry, but fruity enough to give the impression of sweetness for those leery of wines that are too acidic.
Chill this, and drink it on its own or with almost any holiday dinner. It would go especially well at Thanksgiving, and the sweet wine drikers at the table should be both stunned and pleased that they're enjoying a dry wine so much.