Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Albert Mann, Auxerrois “Vieilles Vignes,” Alsace, France, 2007, $20

Auxerrois is something of a stealth grape. Widely planted in Alsace, it tends to be used there as a blending varietal, not a stand-alone. Though many wines contain a lot of it, very few carry its name on the label. Here’s an exception, from the always reliable and frequently exciting Albert Mann winery. A suave, sophisticated white, it demonstrates that this rarely recognized grape deserves new respect.

The wine displays remarkable complexity, with a melange of fruit, mineral and subtle spice flavors that will enthrall your senses. Its compelling, nuanced character may result from the age of the vines, as older ones tend to yield smaller crops with more concentrated flavors. It also may come from the fact that this vintner farms organically and clearly treats a variety that others consider second-rate with real deference. No matter the cause, though, the wine tastes stunning.

Medium-bodied, with a fresh personality but true depth of flavor, this would be an excellent partner for many fresh poultry or seafood dishes. I would not advise pairing it with anything too spicy or heavy because you won’t want to miss any of the wine’s multifaceted appeal. Finding it may necessitate a special order at your favorite wine shop, but then, it is something very special itself. (Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.)

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