Irish supermarket chain SuperValu are currently holding their French Wine Sale and, as in previous years, there’s an Alsace wine included in the “Guest Wines” which are only stocked for the sale and not at other times. The event gives wine drinkers a chance to try wines that they might not normally get a chance to taste, and it’s always good to see Alsace wines being distributed more widely.
Maison Gustave Lorentz
The Lorentz family can trace its roots back to Ribeauvillé in the second half of the 1600s, already involved in the wine trade as barrel makers and wine merchants. It was Jean-Georges Lorentz who made the move four kilometres north-east to Bergheim. He was both a winegrower and blacksmith – it was much more common for people to have more than one trade or profession back then. Maison Lorentz was founded by his descendants in 1836, though it did not come to bear the name of Gustave until he took over towards the end of the 19th century.
After the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine at the end of the Franco-Prussian war the grapes grown in Alsace were mainly blended into German wines. This was followed by the catastrophe of Phylloxera which devastated Alsatian vineyards from 1905. The family’s fortunes were revived by Charles Lorentz Senior and his son Charles Junior.
Senior put a huge emphasis on quality, including grapes bought in from contract growers, and expanded the family’s holdings on the renowned Altenberg de Bergheim (1) vineyard. Junior took over at the end of World War 2 and expanded production while modernising all the facilities in the winery. Charles Junior was instrumental in the inclusion of Altenberg de Bergheim and Kanzlerberg in the second wave of Alsace Grand Cru vineyards classified in 1983.
Since 1995 Maison Gustave Lorentz has been run by George Lorentz, the seventh generation. He has continued the Maison’s modernisation and expanded purchases from local contract growers to 120 hectares worth. Owned vineyards now total 33 hectares of vines, of which 12.8 hectares are Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim and 1.75 hectares Grand Cru Kanzlerberg. George has emphasised the focus on export markets (to over 60 countries including Myanmar) and converted the family’s own vineyards to organic, certified from 2012.
The Gustave Lorentz Portfolio
As with many Alsace producers there are a substantial number of ranges within the Gustave Lorentz portfolio, covering different types of wine, different quality levels and different terroirs. Here is my attempt to summarise them:
Dry, still wines
- Grands Crus: Riesling Kanzleberg, Pinot Gris Kanzleberg, Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim, Pinot Gris Altenberg de Bergheim, Gewurztraminer Altenberg de Bergheim
- Lieux-Dits: Riesling Burg, Pinot Gris Schofweg, Gewurztraminer Rotenberg, Pinot Noir La Limite
- Cuvées Particulières: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Oak-aged Pinot Noir
- Evidence (Organic): Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir
- Réserve: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc (2)
- Special wines and blends: Fleurelle, Pinot Blanc L’Ami des Crustacés, Pinot Noir Rosé
- Sélection de Grains Noble (SGN): Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling
- Vendanges Tardives (VT): Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer
- Crémants d’Alsace: Brut Blanc, Brut Rosé, Zéro Dosage
Gustave Lorentz Alsace Pinot Blanc Réserve 2020
And so we come to the wine in question, the Pinot Blanc Réserve. As in previous vintages this wine is actually predominantly Auxerrois Blanc, a longstanding variety which was thought to be a different clone of or even the same as Pinot Blanc. Due to this historical link, wines made from Auxerrois can be labelled as Pinot Blanc. For more information see my article on Alsace Blends.
85% Auxerrois gives this wine a rounder profile than a predominantly true Pinot Blanc wine. The nose has aromas of pip (pear) and stone (peach) fruit with just a hint of lemon. The palate is juicy and full – almost voluptuous – yet clean and refreshing. The texture with acidity make this a remarkably food-friendly wine, from aperitifs and nibbles to seafood, poultry and salads. At €18.99 it is a good value wine but at €12 it’s an absolute steal.
- ABV: 13.0%
- RRP: €18.99 (3) down to €12.00 from Thurs 2nd Sept to Wed 22nd Sept 2021
- Source: sample
- Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
(1) The full name of the Grand Cru is Altenberg de Bergheim to distinguish it from the other Altenberg Grand Cru, Altenberg de Bergbieten. The later is around 50km due north of Bergheim, just to the west of Strasbourg.
(2) For some reason the Pinot Blanc Réserve is missing from the Gustave Lorentz website
(3) The Riesling Réserve and Gewurztrainer Réserve retail for over €20 in Irish independent wine shops so €18.99 appears to be a very reasonable “normal” price.