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12.10.2004

2000 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Gruenspiel," Alsace, France

Domaine Marcel Deiss is one of the more famous, and possibly infamous, producers in the Alsace region of France. Proprietor Jean-Michel Deiss a magnet for criticism over any number of things. Alsace is the one region in France where it is common practice (and legal) to label wines by their varietal, but he chooses not to, instead labeling his wines by single vineyard designations. Most wines in the region are single varietal, and his are not only blends, but field blends made from interplanted grapes all harvested together and crushed together. Most people think you shouldn't (because it doesn't work) blend Riesling with other grapes, yet Deiss persists.

I'm a sucker for pig headed iconoclasts like Deiss. What can I say. This guy and his daughter find little vineyards that have great soil, and hatchet down the yields, and try to produce wines that are as terrior driven as possible.

Several of their vineyards, including the one used to produce this wine are the Alsatian equivalent of Grand Cru. This wine is a field blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Noir. Deiss firmly believes that he should be interplanting these varieties which are normally kept very separate. Why? Because in this vineyard, they all ripen at the same time, a feat that many viticulturalists would consider impossible. These grape varietals are often harvested at times differing by a full month. Is it a sign from God? Deiss doesn't go that far, but instead says that he is listening to the land, and to my taste he has a good ear for it.

Tasting Notes:
This wine has the perfect orange/copper color of salmon flesh, and the nose nearly knocked me out of my chair with strong aromas of peaches, papaya, and gardenias -- it's one of the most aromatic wines I have ever had. In the mouth it is satiny and lush with flavors of candied orange, mangos, and white chocolate. It is slightly off-dry, meaning that it is a little sweet, but just barely. Mostly it is crisp with enough acidity to make it pleasant to drink and not cloying, and I think the Pinot Noir lends it a structure in the mouth that has much more complexity than a lot of white wines. It has an excellent floral finish. Wow.

Food Pairing
Eureka! This is the most perfect wine I have ever found to pair with Indian food. I had it with a heavily cardamom infused curry and it was a dead-on match, complementing the spice of the dish without losing its seductive fruit.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

How Much?: $56

It looks like this wine is not incredibly hard to find, but definitely exists in limited quantities. In the Bay Area (or on the Internet) you can find some at K&L. If you happen to be in Europe it is significantly cheaper there -- around 25 Euro.

Comments (2)

Jack wrote:
12.20.04 at 10:23 AM

"Alsace is the one region in France where it is common practice (and legal) to label wines by their varietal, but he chooses not to, instead labeling his wines by single vineyard designations."

Well, he does that with more than half of his wines, but not all. I had a glass of the Beblenheim Riesling at Marinus (Bernardus Lodge) that was fabulous - best white by the glass I've had in such a long time!

Backroom wines also sells (http://www.backroomwines.com/wine-inventory.htm) six of his wines at the moment.

caveman wrote:
12.28.04 at 9:59 AM

his grand cru shoenenbourg is one of the most delightful alsace wines that I have ever tasted . At the organic wine expo in NewYork this year I almost dropped to one knee just t o honor the guy., I believe it is Riesling with Pinot Gris and Blanc but can't remember...

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