It is the start of the ‘Summer Wine Season’ for me.
My family background is from Alsace, specifically BRUMATH, a small town near the French and German border. In fact, all of Alsace (France) borders Germany, which is to the east.
Thanks to my friend, Lisa Klinck-Shea, from San Francisco, I had the opportunity to “Celebrate Spring” with the HELFRICH family—winemaker Anne-Laure Helfrich and brand manager, oenologist Nicolas Haeffelin.
The mission of the dynamic duo was to show how relevant and food-friendly Alsatian wines are in our market.
Anne-Laure Helfrich raised her glass filled with Helfrich NV Cremant d’Alsace and in Alsatian style, toasted the wines from Alsace and the star of the day, the wines from the Helfrich Vineyards, which include my ‘Summer Favorites’, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Cremant d’Alsace.
As we finished our toast, Nicolas educated us about the history and the wine facts of the Alsace region:
^^ Alsace has been a winemaking region since the Roman times ^^
^^ In 56 B.C. Caeser called Alsace the ‘Best of all Gaul” ^^
^^ By 900 A.D. there were 160 villages in Alsace making wine ^^
^^ Alsace is the second northernmost growing region after Champagne ^^
^^ The vineyards in Alsace run north to south in a long strip on the eastern side of the Vosges Mountains ^^
^^ The majority of wines from the region are dry white wines ^^
^^ The most popular grape varieties include: Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling ^^
Nicolas then explained about the Helfrich Steinklotz vineyard. The vineyard is the oldest documented vineyard in Alsace, recorded by Gregory of Tours in 589 A.D. The vineyard is at the northern end of the Alsatian wine route, which runs, as Nicolas noted, from north to south. The steep vineyard is situated from six-hundred to one thousand feet in altitude. The soil at this vineyard is comprised of eight inches of loam covering a hard calcareous bedrock. The vineyard faces south/southeast and benefits from maximum sunshine. Its stony subsoil helps to retain heat and its dry, warm environment makes up a unique microclimate. Dry-farmed and hand-picked, the vines are trained upward for maximum exposure to the sun. Steinklotz is one of fifty-one vineyards in Alsace to have been awarded Grand Cru status. By law, only Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat may be grown in these vineyards.
Helfrich offers two levels of wines, both at affordable prices. The noble varieties retail for under $14.99, while the Grand Crus from single vineyards sell below the $19.99 price tag.
The wines are great food wines, as I sampled dozens of combinations of various food offerings with the wines. Amazingly, all of the wines stood out as perennial food buddies.
Helfrich wines are in our marketplace and should be found at your local wine merchant.
Helfrich NV Cremant d’Alsace
2012 Helfrich Pinot Blanc
2012 Helfrich Pinot Gris
2012 Helfrich Riesling
2012 Helfrich Gewurztraminier
2012 Helfrich Riesling
(Grand Crus retail for under $25)
2011 Helfrich SteinklotzPinot Gris Grand Cru
2009 Helfrich Steinklotz Gewurztraminier Grand Cru
What is your 'Go-To' Helfrich wine?