Alsace – a Wine area with a lot of Spirit
By Franz Scheurer
Alsace, a tiny corner of France, where they may speak French and German because of the volatile nature of shifting borders over many centuries, but they are united in speaking ‘Quality’ when it comes to their wines and spirits (and of course their food, too). They’re fruit spirits are amongst the best and cleanest in the world and names like Bertrand and Massenez are held in very high esteem, indeed. Their wines are allowed to reflect their natural terroir and micro-climate and are world-leading in their field. Albert Mann’s Pinot Gris is legendary and if you want a superb sparkling without paying for an area name, like Champagne, you can’t do better than an Alsatian Crémant. The foie gras from Alsace is amazing and just as good at the top end of the food pyramid as ‘Tarte flambée (Flammenkuchen – a kind of very thin, local 'pizza') is at the bottom. The people take pride in what they produce and they love eating and drinking, no doubt an important prerequisite.
But what I want to single out is DOPFF au Moulin – a family wine dynasty that produces probably the best value for money wines in Alsace and they have an amazing success rate with world-wide exports. You should have no problem finding the Dopff wines in Australia and they will easily convert you into a Dopff aficionado. Their range is quite large and of course every year there are new wines and new releases and it’s hard to keep up (but someone has to do it).
2011 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Brand de Turckheim
Nose: Spicy, lychees and rose petals
Palate: Immediate mouth feel is almost oily with the spice confirmed and a medium long finish or lychees and Turkish delight
This wine is also available under screwcap and at this stage it seems more full bodied with some dried fruit in the finish
This might be the more affordable version but it still packs a punch.
Nose: Very much dominated by tropical fruit, mango, passionfruit, pineapple and of course lychees
Palate: Palate coating, good balance of sugar and acid, with a dry finish.
2013 Pinot Blanc
This blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois results in a refreshing wine that is perfectly suited as an aperitif in our climate
Nose: Lots of citrus and white flowers
Palate: This is a crisp white dominated by fresh citrus flavours and a medium long finish.
2013 Pinot Gris Reserve
This is a very structured and layered white wine
Nose: Complex, smoky and (unusual for a white) scents of damp forest floor.
Palate: The forest floor aromas are confirmed on the palate with mushroomy and mossy flavours, combined with dried fruit, honey and a hint of beeswax in the finish
2010 Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr
Schoenenburg (the pretty castle) is one of the most sought after wine-sites in Alsace and this wine confirms its illustrious heritage
Nose: Pineapple and candied citrus vie for your attention
Palate: Full-bodied, quite viscous, with great acidity and strong overripe grapefruit notes
This is a superb white!
This wine might appear a quaffer if you look at the price, however I'd be happy to drink this almost every day.
Nose: Like it's Grand Cru cousin this wine shows a lot of citrus and specifically some lemon zest
Palate: For an Alsatian wine this is surprisingly steely, with balanced acid and a good, firm finish.
COATES McLaren Vale & Langhorne
Creek 'THE IBERIAN'
This red wine hails from the McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. It is made in the classic Spanish style, from predominantly Spanish varietals (with a couple of Rhone varieties thrown in) and it displays the same, typical; mouth-feel as most of the reds from Spain.
Aged for 22 month in French barriques this wine is a blend of Touriga, Nacional, Tempranillo, Monastrell, Syrah, Malbec and Cinsault and it succeeds in not showcasing any one varietal, but creating a totally new flavour profile.
Look for it, it's sensational!
(You will find it in some bottle shops and you can buy it through contacting Langtons)
The World of Bitters
By Franz Scheurer
One of the fastest growing segments of the cocktail market world-wide is the world of bitters.
Bitters might have started out as monks’ tinctures, promising to cure anything from hair loss to sweaty feet but these days they are an essential part of any well-stocked bar, adding depth and complexity to many cocktails. Original bitters were based on artichokes, gentian and the bark of the cinchona tree (original source of quinine). These days you have bitters that are specific, e.g. rhubarb, mint, chilli, even mole, but what stays consistent is that they are extremely concentrated and you only need a few drops to add a lot of flavour to a drink.
Here are some of the best:
Founded by John G. Boker in 1828, and the bitters of choice of most barmen in New York, Boker’s had to close during the Prohibition but was thankfully resurrected nearly a 100 years later to again produce the famous bitters based on the original recipe. The flavours are extra dry, super-strong and medicinal.
Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
Antoine Amedie Peychaud, an apothecary in New Orleans gained fame in the very early 1800s for his liquid tonic and he called it ‘Bitters’. Added to the ever popular Cognac it soon had the locals hooked and as it was also eminently suitable for cooking, it’s fame quickly spread around the world. Often used to bitter draft beer.
Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
Gary Regan couldn’t find a good orange bitters on the market so he created his own. In 1992 he eventually got the taste and the complexity right and this fabulous addition to the bitters market is now produced and marketed by the Sazerac Company, USA. There are other orange bitters on the market, but nothing as complex and fragrant as Regan’s.
Fee Bros Rhubarb Bitters
Fee Bros have been around for a very long time making a large range of different bitters. They are aimed at the chef as much as the bartender. The rhubarb bitter is different from most bitters as this might be the first time the unique flavour of rhubarb escapes the kitchen and inspires the creative bartenders around the world.
Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Mexican chocolate bitters have often been imitated by other brands but Bittermens’ is the original and still the best, combining the flavours of dark, bitter chocolate, cinnamon and various unspecified aromatics. This makes a superb addition to an Old Fashioned.
This bitter tincture is made from habanero chillies and it’s understandably hot and impossible to overlook; this is the sort of bitter you may want to add to a good Vodka to create an instant Chilli Vodka. Superb!
Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Spanish Bitters
Spanish Bitters were celebrated in the 1800s for their complex flavour profile including chamomile, violet, citrus, spice and berries and Elmegirab originally invented this concoction, which was eventually re-released in 2012. The fabulous spice, floral bouquet works a treat with many beverages and it adds a new dimension to a glass of Champagne.
This one hails from New York and is very specific: vanilla and cumquat. It’s a great addition to a simple glass of sparkling mineral water and I love it rubbed (sparingly) onto a roast.
Dale DeGroff’s Pimento
DeGroff is a legend and his ability is probably second to none as a master bartender. This is a pimento bitters with a fair whack of anise and some dark undercurrents which I reckon are spices like clove, cinnamon and maybe brown cardamom. The bitter is totally based on aromatics without any artificial flavourings and is made by one of my favourite distillers in Saumur, France.