The other day I tried a pretty unusual wine made from the Chasselas grape. I have tried some examples of this grape before, but not very many. It is most famous as the variety used to make Pouilly Fumé’s less well known cousin – Pouilly-sur-Loire or as Fendant in the Valais canton of Switzerland, where it makes some lovely dry white wines. There are other plantings in the Baden region of Germany and Savoie, but apart from the Loire it is pretty localised to an area that straddles Switzerland and the Germanic world and the one I tried hailed from Alsace.
I love the Alsace region as it is very beautiful, steeped in history and offers superb food and beer. Riesling apart though I do have a rocky relationship with the region’s wines, chiefly because the Gewurztraminers seem to have become far too sweet of late and I am never a huge admirer of Pinot Gris – even though I can appreciate a good one. So, I have really stuck to Riesling and Pinot Blanc for quite a long time.
So, I was delighted to try an Alsace Chasselas at long last – I have never even had one while over there – that is how unusual it is. I was impressed and think that many other consumers would enjoy it too:
2008 Chasselas Vielles Vignes Pierre Sparr
Sigolsheim, Alsace, France
Deep colour with hints of gold – almost a pale muscat hue.
The nose is scented and gently floral with delicate apricots, nuts and some honey.
The palate is quite juicy with an almost unctuous texture of semi dried fruit drizzled with honey, there are nut tones too, but this is bone dry and clean despite the texture.
It feels somewhat old fashioned, even to a point of intentional oxidation. It isn’t crisp, but does taste fresh and is rather delicious and very different, with a stony finish. There is a richness or fleshiness to the palate that belies it’s mere 11.5% alcohol and makes it very different from the other offerings from Alsace. The flavours are slightly reminiscent of bruised or baked apples, often an iffy thing, but decidedly good in this instance.
Staring at the now empty bottle I am for forced to conclude that this a wonderfully drinkable wine – 89/100 points for sheer drinkability.
Try it as an unusual aperitif, I think it would also be good with rich cheeses and powerfully sauced dishes like casseroles.
I am really pleased to have tried this delicious wine and to added to my favoured list of Alsace wines.
Available from Nicolas for £9.99 a botttle.