The universe is interesting sometimes when it comes to coincidences. In 2009, quite along time ago now, a friend invited me to a Trimbach wine dinner at then restaurant L20 here in Chicago, curated by then sommelier Chantelle Corbo (now in New York City). I save the menus for special dinners so the original menu is pictured above. At that point in time, I loved wine like I always have, I was not a student per se, I just appreciated good food and wine pairings and this dinner left an indelible impression on me about the wine, its pairing with the food, that it was special and I loved it. Thank you Dr. Ngai for inviting me. I look back at the wines and say wow now! I left the dinner with an imprint on my palate of beautiful, delicious wines.
Move forward a gizillion years and this January I saw that Hart Davis Hart wines was offering a Clos St Hune vertical dinner to celebrate Alsace and Chef Jean Joho’s Everest Restaurant’s 30th anniversary. The menu and wines for the dinner are listed above as well. Realizing the significance of the Clos St Hune vineyard and having never dined at Everest, and with Trump in power making me realize that life is very short, I signed up for the dinner. I thought that this alignment of Alsace in Chicago was a once in a lifetime occurrence and indeed it was. Chef Joho brought out wines from his private cellar and the combination of ethereal wine and food was absolutely incredible!
I have posted other pictures of the dinner on TravelBTG and on JeannieBoutelle on Instagram. Chef Joho employed french techniques particularly with the sauces that take hours and hours to prepare. One dish, he said, he only makes several times a year. My dinner companions and I took moments to just savor the wines in our glasses. The dinner showed me how beautifully riesling can age when it comes from a top vineyard and is handled well in the cellar and there is a perfect acid, sugar balance.
Thus, when the Wine Scholar Guild offered their Immersion trip to Alsace it caught my eye. I studied Alsace during the French Wine Scholar program and thought the pictures of it were gorgeous. Many of the villages are considered some of the most beautiful villages in France. The trips are an investment in time and money, however, for me, the anxiety and fear from Trump world spurred me on to take advantage of the now and I signed up for the trip.
Day 2 of the trip, where do we find ourselves? We visit Hunawihr (a fairytale looking town, its the header picture to this post), to Domaine Mittnacht Frères, having a delicately prepared Japanese lunch prepared by Yuka Mittnacht paired with Christophe Mittnacht’s biodynamic wines seated at a huge window overlooking the Grand Cru Rosaker vineyard (dolomitic limestone) and the parcel Clos St. Hune.
I had to post a picture of Yuka Mittnacht’s dessert where food and art interwine with wine.
Later that same day, we traveled to Ribeauvillé and Maison Trimbach. Anne Trimbach met us with her father Pierre Trimbach, the winemaker.
Anne gave us a tour of the winery including their cellar filled with bottles of all ages and grapes, some bottled by Grand Cru vineyard.
We tasted a range of their wines. I have always loved Cuvée Frédéric Émile, the grapes are sourced from the Grand Crus Geisberg (marl, limestone, sandstone) and Osterberg (marl). Anne said that Cuvée Frédéric Émile has such name recognition they will always use the name and not the Grand Cru names. The 2008 that we tasted was bone dry, it was a cooler vintage so had lots of acidity. The 2008 Gewürztraminer SGN that they made 600 bottles of was indescribably delicious. The age on the wine had concentrated the abundant flower and fruit flavors yet it had been made with a subtle hand so the wine did not overwhelm you as some Gewurz’s can and time had given the wine more texture and the acid,sugar balance was in harmony. Anne surprised us at the end of the tasting with a taste of Clos St. Hune 1975. This wine was still quite alive. It just had much more texture on the mouth and a concentration of fruit and mineral flavors. It is not everyday or even any day that I get to try any wine that old, let alone a white wine. The Trimbach wines can age and they get better with age.
Our wine study trip ended with an epic dinner of old wines organized by Decanter’s Alsace specialist Thierry Meyer through his organization L’Oenothèque Alsace. He is the lead instructor for the Wine Scholar Guild’s Alsace Master-Level Certificate Program. Thierry organized the wine dinner at Taverne Alsacienne in Ingersheim, the menu prepared by Chef Jean-Philippe Gugegnbuhl and the wines are listed and pictured below.
A few of the bottles were corked, a few others oxidated. But there were still some gems among them including the 1983 Cuvée Frédéric Émile. But I think for all the members of the trip, this was a once in a lifetime dinner.
I think our access to older wines on this trip was incredible and I think in other wine regions tasting wines this old for a group like ours is just not possible and it says a lot about the quality of the wine making in Alsace. In Alsace, age is a good thing!!!
Below is Thierry Meyer’s thoughts for our group: