Wine reviews

Wine Review: Blue Tie by Pfaff

The SuperValu French Wine Sale is upon us again, joined this year by some German wines from the Pfalz, so what better wine to start my reviews with than one from a French region on the border with Germany, an Alsace blend!

The Cave de Pfaffenheim is a co-operative with around 150 grower-members. It was founded in 1957 in the village of Pfaffenheim, around 15 km south-by-southwest of Colmar. The microclimate there is a little greener than other parts of Alsace which helps the vines in dry years. The Cave itself has very modern facilities with an (as far as possible) oxygen-free environment. I tasted through their standard range at the Big Alsace Tasting a few years ago and was very impressed by their clean, fruit-forward nature.

The “Tie” range began in 2005 when the winemaker was holding a tasting / blending session with the buyer from a big French supermarket chain (I’m guessing Carrefour) and they were searching for a new brand name. Seeing someone wearing a black bow tie, they agreed on Black Tie for the first wine, a blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris. White Tie, Pink Tie and Blue Tie wines followed.

Blue Tie by Pfaff 2018

Blue Tie by Pfaff 2018

So, the Blue Tie is a blend of Pinot Gris, Muscat and Gewurztraminer. The relative proportions aren’t given, but I think it’s safe to say they are in descending order as written – due to its expressiveness, Gewurz would totally dominate other varieties if it made up a majority of a blend. The vines are situated in the lower hills of the Vosges between 200 and 400 metres above sea level, with an easterly or south easterly aspect to get the benefit of the morning sun.

The grape varieties are vinified separately and aged on fine lees for four months before blending and bottling takes place. The wine does not go through malolactic fermentation to preserve freshness and balance the residual sugar; alcohol is fairly modest at 12.5%.

In colour, Blue Tie is lemon, but that’s not where the main action is: the nose! The nose has explosive aromas of spice, lychees, roses, mango, pineapple and grapes – such a joy to sniff!

These notes continue onto the palate, but they are a little more restrained…perhaps a little crisper than the nose suggests, which is the influence of the Muscat and the acidity.

This is a great example of an Alsace blend and would be amazing with Asian cuisine or just on its own.

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RS: 20 g/L
  • RRP: €10.00 down from €16.99 from 1st to 21st Sept 2022
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: SuperValu stores

Look out for other articles on wines from the SuperValu French & German wine sale on Frankly Wines

Wine reviews

Wine Review: Wolfberger W3 Alsace Blend

As you get older, birthdays generally become less important, unless it’s a multiple of 10. When you have young kids and your birthday’s on Halloween, it’s even less important when you have young kids. Thus it was for me this year (I know, I’m drying my eyes) and so I didn’t even open a particularly fancy wine from my humble collection. However, with my Chinese takeaway I did pop open a modestly-priced bottle – an Alsace blend from Wolfberger…and it was delightful!

Wolfberger is a significant presence in Alsace as they are one of the largest producers. I will delve more into their story in a future article, but for now let’s take a look at one of their Alsace blends. This bottle was one of several samples kindly sent over for the second Alsace Wine Week in Ireland which took place in May 2019.

Wolfberger W3 Alsace Blend 2017

Wolfberger W3 Alsace Blend

W3 (or W³) is a blend of three out of Alsace’s four “noble” grape varieties: Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris*. Being made from these varieties would allow the wine to be labelled as a Gentil; however, these traditional blend names are sometimes eschewed by producers in favour of a more modern presentation – in this case W3 (or W³ as it appears on the front label.) For more information check out my article on Alsace Blends.

In the glass the W3 is a light lemony-gold. The nose has a real story to tell: flowers and grapes with hints of orchard fruits and a dash of citrus. Methinks Muscat is the boss on the nose. The palate somehow manages to be round and linear at the same time, slightly (fruitily-) sweet yet tangily sour. Pip fruits and grapes open the scene, then grapes and stone fruits add depth, and finally zesty lime brings it home.

This is a brilliant example of how good Alsace blends can be, even when modestly priced. Each of the three grapes has a turn to take centre stage, but it’s a cohesive performance rather than a clash of personalities. And the wine is more than the sum of its parts!

  • ABV: 12.5%
  • RS: 6.5 g/L
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: not yet available in Ireland – but hopefully sometime soon!

*The fourth noble variety not included in this blend is, of course, Gewurztraminer.