September 28 at Domaine Weinbach, Kaysersberg.
Though I was 45 minutes late for my 5PM appointment due to, among others, GPS malfunctions, Catherine Faller was still more than gracious. Due to time constraints, my wife and I skipped the tour of the winery and, after proper introductions, went straight to tasting.
We briefly met Madame Colette who speaks only French and German. So nonchalantly elegant, most charming and totally unaffected by fame and fortune, she herself helped Catherine clear the table of bottles we were done with.
2005 Pinot Gris Cuvée Ste Catherine - Despite almost a week in Alsace, discovering and enjoying more pinot gris than I have ever had in my life within those days, this wine was noticeably riper fruit with notable weight mid-mouth compared to similar wines from other makers. Dry, good focus, this has a lively, fresh spiciness to it. Impressive for an "entry-level" wine, I thought.
2004 Pinot Gris Altenbourg Cuvée Laurence - A touch of botrytis, mild spiciness, very good depth and complexity, ripe peach, some apricot and mango. Beautiful weight, middle and good balancing acid. Visions of Peking duck came to mind. Lovely wine.
2002 Pinot Gris Altenbourg SGN - Candied fruit, buttery, baked apple flavors, rich, not as sweet as I expected (which is a good thing), and a pronounced, vaguely nutty, toastiness to the back. Superior depth. I think this is the first pinot gris SGN I have ever tried. It won't be my last.
2005 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine - Floral in the nose, fair attack and expands mid-mouth. Pretty, young, sweetish, ripe tropical fruits in a sturdy, taut medium body, fair depth and acidity.
2004 Riesling Schlossberg Vendage Tardive - Ripe, tangy, sweet and spicy, peaches and pears with a touch of wild honey and an intruiging toastiness to the back. Lovely wine.
2004 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine "l'Inédit" - Much deeper veined, evidently more layered and complex, riper, richer, more heft, spicier; and, with a more pronounced tanginess in its fruit that I didn't detect in the immediately above-mentioned wine. Excellent wine.
2004 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Cuvée Laurence - Spicy lichees, some peach and mango with white flowers and minerals. Very eager and forward, yet not wanton. Extremely long. Excellent wine.
As it was getting dark, we thanked Catherine and said our goodbyes. She let us choose a bottle to take away as a gift. My wife told her any gewurztraminer would be greatly appreciated, so Catherine gave us a 2004 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Furstentum Cuvée Laurence which is now sleeping in my wine fridge here in Manila. (NB: We tasted 10 wines at Domaine Weinbach but I, unfortunately, cannot find the paper I scribbled my first 3 notes on before Catherine gave me some proper paper).
Knowing we were based in Riquewihr, she highly recommended her friend's restaurant in town called La Table du Gourmet. "One Michelin star", she informed us, "the best restaurant in town and mention that I sent you."
So, we drove back to Hotel Le Schoenenbourg, parked the car, stowed our gift in the room and marched dutifully to the old town, straight to La Table du Gourmet. With our meal, I just had to order a half bottle of the Fallers' 1996 Pinot Gris Altenbourg - smooth, mellow, coyly rounded on the middle of my tongue, it displayed its flavors languidly, unhurriedly. Very mild spice, very slight tanginess to the fruit and a merest whisper of alluring bitterness in the finish.