Alsatian Auxerrois – Say That Five Times Fast!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 8:18 PM


 

2014 Pinot Auxerrois From Saint-Rémy
 
What is Pinot Auxerrois? Pinot Auxerrois is a grape that is planted extensively throughout the Alsatian region of France. It is not always labelled as such as it is legal under AOC Alsace appellation laws to label it under the more commonly recognized Pinot Blanc. Many people will explain that Auxerrois is a clone of Pinot Blanc but that is not accurate. In fact Pinot Auxerrois is an offspring of Pinot Blanc, which is a white-berried mutation of Pinot Noir, and is a sibling to Chardonnay, Aligote and Melon de Bourgogne. Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc so then when yields are limited, a truly interesting wine can be made like the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois from Domaine Saint-Rémy.
 
 
Saint-Rémy’s bottling of Pinot Auxerrois comes from the single-vineyard, Val St. Gregoire. Val St. Gregoire is close to Grand Cru Brand, has southern exposure and the soils are more granitic. I remember when Philippe Ehrhart, proprietor of Domaine Saint-Rémy, visited us at the store in the summer of ’14 and explained these facts. He also made a point of saying that at Saint-Rémy they do not use commercial yeasts, and give a very gentle pressing to the grapes to get pure, clean juice. The Pinot Auxerrois stays on the lees for 6-8 months before bottling. The Ehrharts have taken their centuries old domaine to new heights by converting to organic farming. They became certified organic in 2010 and certified biodynamic in 2012. Phillipe and family are strong advocates of this movement in their region. This fastidious stewardship of the land is rooted in tradition but is also a very real solution to climactic and ecological threats.
 
 
As I mentioned above, Pinot Auxerrois has smaller berries than Pinot Blanc with a higher skin to juice ratio so when made well there is good structure, fruit and acidity. Both Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc can get flabby (true for most of us!) if not taken care of properly. I find the Saint-Rémy Pinot Auxerrois to have plenty of fruit flavors – peach, apricot – a nice bitter tinge and freshness to the finish.This combination makes it delicious to enjoy by the glass sans food or easily adaptable to appetizers. I was particularly impressed at how well it went with my usual Friday Night Fish Fry of baked sole. Typically I reach for something with a leaner fruit profile, but the wine carried the dish beautifully without overpowering it. I’d say go ahead and serve this with poultry and light pork dishes too. It is really quite versatile.
 
 

I’ve survived a full month of back to school scheduling. Twice I’ve forgotten it was my turn in the carpool to do “drop-off”. In a moment of panic, my daughter is surprising compliant at jumping in the car with a hastily clad mother. My husband has been cracking himself up by reenacting my reaction when I finally figure out that theyare not the ones late…I am! So when Friday rolls around, and I finally have a moment to myself, you might find me on the front porch with a glass in hand. This week the 2014 Pinot Auxerrois Val St. Gregoire was a lovely reward to a busy week. The golden, honeyed fruit mirrored the soft hues of the autumn sun’s rays. Aahh, the restorative nature of wine!– Anya Balistreri

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Back In Stock – 2012 Pinot Noir From The Ehrharts

Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:11 PM


2012 Domaine St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir

Every now and then we receive inquiries from customers regarding our stocks of particular wines. Most customers that do ask us about quantities ask because they like a particular wine and don’t want it to sell out before securing a few bottles/cases for their own consumption. So when the answer to the quantity question is greater than 10 cases, most customers feel relieved andassume that the wine will still be in stock the next time they visit us. As with all rules, there have been exceptions that have made us scratch our heads.
 
 
Back in the summer of 2010, as we rolled out the 2009 Bordeaux futures, a customer came into the shopinquiring about an inexpensive Haut-Médoc wine that was one of those great bargains from a super vintage. When we told him that we had 130 bottles left,he left promising to return the following week and put together a futures order. That very same day, we received a phone call from another customer asking about futures. One can never predict what might occur, we told him about a few of our favorites, and he listened attentively, and said that he would call back before the end of the day with an order after doing a little further research. He called back and, get this, ordered 120 bottles of said Haut-Médoc wine! Wow. When the first customer returned the following week, he was disappointed that he couldn’t get a solid case, but he did buy the rest. We learned a valuable lesson. If we want a wine for ourselves and it’s here, buy it now or else that could happen to us.
 
 
So last summer, our friends Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart began exporting their Rosenberg Pinot Noir. It is everything non-Burgundian French Pinot Noir should be.Expressive aromas of berries and herbs with a good mineral representation. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and shows off its layers of sensation in an elegant fashion. It’s a delectable wine that you can drink on its own, but its real home run potential is at the table. Mmmmm. I can imagine a fine rotisserie chicken with Herbs de Provençe and a glass of the 2012 Domaine St. Rémy Pinot Noir. That’ll transport you to France in a heartbeat! We were swooning over this wine last year, Anya even penned a great email praising the Ehrharts and their Rosenberg Pinot Noir. We beganrecommending it to customers whom we knew would appreciate it. “We just got it, so it should be around for a while,” was the foolish answer I gave to a couple of customers who liked it enough to inquire about quantities. Little did I know that there was a big fish out there and it was thirsty for Alsatian Pinot Noir, the 2012 St. Rémy Rosenberg Pinot Noir that is. The big fish was a big event for thousands of people andthey would need it all. Like a whole pallet of it. So, poof! Just like that, no more St. Rémy Pinot Noir. Those customers whom I assured the wine would still be in stock when they returned were disappointed, but luckily weren’t cross with me. No one saw the big fish coming. Moral of the story is that every time going forward that someone asks me about current inventory, they are regaled with these two stories.
 
 
The good news is that the 2012 Domaine St. Rémy (formerly known as Domaine Ehrhart) Rosenberg Pinot Noir is back in stock and drinking beautifully.This is great for all of us as it out-drinks its price point by several degrees. It’s a great one to bring to friends’ houses – one taste and they think you’ve splurged, when you know that it was only a modest sum that was spent. There are a few rows of stacked boxes of the Rosenberg Pinot Noir now in our warehouse, and it should stay in stock for much of the spring season, but, but, but; well, you know. – Peter Zavialoff
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NV Cremant d’Alsace From Domaine Saint-Remy

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:37 PM


At TWH, I know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmaswhen one out of every three purchases includes a bottle of bubbly. Our sparkling wine section has been relocated from the far edge of the sales floor to a beautiful, center stage, display – thanks Chris and Tom! It looks so festive!Each time I walk past the display, Carol of the Bells plays in my head. I am so ready to clink glasses with loved ones!But with so many delicious options, what to choose? For fine quality at an affordable price presented in a visually “giftable” package, my choice is Domaine Saint-Remy’s Crémant d’Alsace.
 
 
Domaine Saint-Remy traces its history as a winery back to 1725. It continues to operate as a family business with Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart at the helm with three generations of family working at the domaine. Seeped in tradition, the Ehrharts took the steps needed to become certified organic in 2010 and in 2012 became certified biodynamic. The Ehrharts are actively involved in the stewardship and preservation of Alsace’s viticultural heritage.
 
 
The Ehrharts visit us in San Francisco on a fairly regular basis. During their last visit in the summer of ’14, Philippe guided TWH staff in a tasting of several of his wines. As I pour over my notes from that day, I can’t help but noticethe many stars and exclamation points after each wine. Philippe told us that they only use barrel for Pinot Noir and use no commercial yeasts. They like to use a slow, gentle pressing for the grapes. The last wine we tasted was theCrémant d’Alsace. They began making it in 1982 and limit production to a couple thousand cases. My notes read“quite sophisticated – fresh & lively, elegant”. My notes made no mention of the grapes, though I do know it is a blanc de blancs using Chardonnay (just like in Champagne). The grapes are grown on granite in the lieu-dit of St. Gregoire, west of Turkheim.
 
 
I’ve been given my orders: my brother, the host, said to bring sparkling wine to serve with appetizers at our Christmas Eve dinner. For a large crowd – there will be at least 22 of us – the Saint-Remy Crémant d’Alsace will work perfectly. The initial creamy tangerine and ripe pear flavors give way to a snappy green apple finish. It is elegant and fresh. There will be stuffed eggs (always the first to go at a party, in my experience), little roasted potatoes with sour cream and caviar and other tasty morsels. ThisCrémant d’Alsace is versatile and complex enough to do special occasion hors d’oeuvres justice. A few bottles will also make their way as gifts to friends and neighbors I know who enjoy a good glass of bubbly. I am happy to help spread the cheer!
 
And a special cheers goes out to all of you that support and patronize our independent, small business. As an employee of The Wine House, I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to make connections and forge relationships with our customers. The Wine House is not my first job in retail, so I say this having years of experience….TWH customers are the very best! Happy Holidays! – Anya Balistreri
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Domaine Saint-Rémy 2014 Rose d’Alsace

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 10:12 PM

If our point of sale system is to be believed, then The Wine House has been stocking wines from the Ehrhart family since 2005. In the ten years that have followed, the winery has gone through some important changes. No longer are their exported wines labelled Domaine Ehrhart. Instead their historic name, Domaine Saint-Rémy, which is how they’ve always been known as in France and which dates back to 1725, is printed on the labels. Completed in 2013, a new winery and cellar was built to ensure quality winemaking. But the most important change, in my opinion, is that thewinery is now certified organic and biodynamic. The conversion to biodynamic farming reflects the Ehrhart’s long-standing determination and dedication to preserving the tradition of wine making in Alsace. The Ehrhart’s take their stewardship of the land and vineyards seriously.
 
 
The 2014 Rose d’Alsace from Domaine Saint-Rémy is new to me and to the store. This is the first vintage we’ve had the opportunity to carry. An un-tinted, slender bottle allows the attractive orange-tinged pink color to show through – the bottle had me at hello! As much of a fan of Rhône varietal rosés that I am, I also deeply enjoy rosés made from Pinot Noir. There is a sophistication and elegance to rosé of Pinot Noir that is undeniable. Domaine Saint-Rémy’s 2014 Rose d’Alsace is pleasantly aromatic – wild strawberries, ripe Charentais melon, and spun sugar. The flavors are vivid but not overly fruity. I predict I will be turning to this wine time and again, especially as Autumn clings to Summer’s heat.
 
 
On the first full day of Fall with outside temperatures above 90 degrees, I prepared one of my family’s favorite warm weather dishes, Salade Niçoise. A morning trip to the farmer’s market guaranteed flavorful produce and other than whisking together a spiky vinaigrette and a whole lot of chopping, dinner was done! With a plate piled high with crunchy veg, imported Tonno, and briny olives, a glass of chilled rosé was a must. Luckily I planned ahead and stuck a bottle of 2014 Rose d’Alsace in the fridge before heading out in the morning. It was an ideal pairing.
 
 
My newlywed nephew was ordained a Russian Orthodox priest last Sunday. Some say it is a calling, but I call itcourageous. In these times, in this culture, to dedicate one’s life to serve others without the hope of financial gain is an audacious decision to make. My admiration for this exceptional young man is unbounded, as is my love. Emotions continue to ride high as this weekend marks 17 years of wedded bliss! I can recollect my wedding day like it was yesterday. Though my father told me I didn’t have to go through with it as he drove me to the church, I know now that marrying my husband was the best decision ever.
Tony – ты мой мужчина! – Anya Balistreri
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2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg – Domaine Saint Rémy

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:56 AM

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Pinot Noir accounts for less than 10% of total wine production in Alsace. Not much of it even leaves the region. It is therefore unlikely that many of us have great knowledge or familiarity with Alsatian Pinot Noir. If you desire to dabble in the esoteric then the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg from Domaine Saint Rémy is a perfect place to start your exploration of Alsatian Pinot Noir.

 

 

Philippe and Corinne Ehrhart have transformed their centuries old domaine into an estate committed tosustainability and conscientious farming practices.They are certified organic and biodynamic. Their emphasis on meticulous work in the vineyard reflects back in the glass. TWH has proudly offered their range of AOC and Grand Cru whites, but it is only recently that we’ve stocked their Pinot Noir.

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Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
 
Ehrhart Pinot Noir comes from the Rosenberg vineyard, a recognized lieu-dit. The vineyard is south and southeast facing with clay-limestone topsoil and lots of rock underneath. The age of the vines are 25-30 years.

 

 

The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is 100% destemmed and likely spends some time in barrel but certainly not any new. It is light but not without complexity. The exuberant red cherry flavors of new world Pinot Noir are not in play here. Instead the berry fruit goes arm in arm with more savory notes of dried herbs and tea leaves. The lower alcohol (13% on the label) evokes a more restrained palate feel and the aromatics suggest more herb and tea leaves than fruit.
 
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Courtesy Domaine Ehrhart’s Facebook page
 
I slapped myself on the forehead this morning as I spied the 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg tucked among the Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. All week I’ve been asked wine recommendations for ham, lamb or braised brisket. Rhone and Burgundy always came first to my mind, but I see now that I missed a perfect opportunity to introduce Alsatian Pinot Noir to a wider audience.The 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg, with its lighter profile, also makes a nice option for daytime and early evening meals.

 

 

 
I’ll be pulling double-duty with Western Easter this Sunday and Eastern Orthodox Easter next. Can a bit of spring cleaning even be a consideration for me at this time? Probably not; another fail. Gratefully, failing at choosing the perfect wine to go with Nana’s stuffed roast pork isn’t possible now that the Ehrharts’ Domaine Saint Rémy 2012 Pinot Noir Rosenberg is back on my radar. Wishing all of you a glorious Spring celebration!
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