Alsace Day 1 - Away we go!
A beautiful sunny morning welcomed us onto the continent as we continued our journey to Alsace and to continue the theme, yet another first for me - Luxembourg wines! Our first tasting of the day however was again en route aboard our luxury coach as we sampled four wines from producers we won't have the opportunity to visit during our stay. Two wines from Cave de Ribeauvillé Collection - a Gewürztraminer- Muscat, 'Andante' and a Pinot Gris - and one each from Domaine Bott-Geyl, a 2002 Riesling, and Cuvée Emile Willm, a late harvest 2005 Riesling. From this small selection I'm thinking that I'm going to enjoy this trip. They were all excellent wines, each showing a very different aspect of what we can expect to taste over the coming week.
Our primary stop of the day was at Caves St Martin in Remich, Luxembourg, in a beautiful setting overlooking the Moselle river. A wonderful lunch was followed by our first tour and tasting conducted by the daughter of the owner - the lovely Isabelle Gales. The Caves themselves were hewed out of the rocks in 1921 and cover nearly 1km underground. Their Crémant wines made in the traditional method are still turned by hand - by just two gentlemen - that's 500,000 bottles - BY HAND!
We were fortunate enough to taste five of their best wines under their Gales label.
Their Gales Crémant Heritage Brut, a recent Gold Medal winner is predominantly made with Riesling and Pinot Blanc grape varieties. The name is a tribute to the past winemakers of the area. Our second wine was the Gales Auxerrois Grand Premier Cru 2011, from the Hopertsbour vines. A very different wine from the first, with more fruit flavours. Our next wine, Gales Pinot Blanc Grand Premier Cru 2011 is the current favourite of Monsieur Gales, the head of the winery. It was full of floral tones rather than bursting with fruit which is apparently the preferred current style amongst most Luxembourgers. Next up was the Gales Pinot Gris Grand Premier Cru 2011 from their Wellenstein Foulschette vineyard. This is their example of Luxembourg's favourite grape - a much fuller flavour with some residual sugar.
Our final wine was the Gales Riesling Grand Premier Cru 2011 and is Isabelle's favourite. It was wonderfully delicate and light and I think I had to agree with her. All in all an excellent pause and many thanks go to Isabelle for agreeing to open for our tasting on a Sunday when they're usually closed. We arrived into Riquewihr after dark and it was straight to our rooms and bed to prepare for the real tastings which start early morning. Bon nuit!