Puneet visits Alsace

Honestly, for the lover of food and wine, there is no better place than Alsace. Winding through the Hills, the wine route is about 120km from Strasbourg in the North (which has the most amazing Gothic Cathedral ever) to Thann and Belfort in the South.

ALSACE BLOGOf course my first port of call was our very own Domaine Rene Mure. As we drove into the Estate, Veronique Mure came out to greet myself, Shana and baby Taj. Veronique’s smile is full of warmth and is ever present. Together with her brother Thomas – the siblings are now the custodians of the Domaine. As of this year they will have the honour of their wines being labelled as ‘Veronique and Thomas Mure’.

We found the Domaine almost at the Southern tip of Alsace, in the village of Rouffach. Let’s be clear – every village in Alsace is quaint – spread out every 5 or 10 km – every village has a splendid town church dating back hundreds of years. You can almost feel the trade many years ago as neighbouring villages walked to each other to ply their wares. Rouffach is no exception, and the village in their blood. The family have ties to the town going back centuries.

…And for those with the Brexit blues, the main town of Alsace, just 10 km North or so from Rouffach is Colmar. Its main claim to fame is the guy who made the Statue of Liberty hails from there…but more interestingly for me is the home of Andre Klein – a founder and strong advocate of the European Union. Over lunch (its always over lunch in Alsace), in an interview with the economist – Andre declared that ‘Nationalism is the disease and Europe the Cure’. Quoting from the Economist (Between Borders June 2016 edition)

“For much of history his part of the World was a contested borderland. The Rhine, 20km East of Colmar, was the Roman frontier. The town has been part of the Holy Roman Empire and of a league of states; in the thirty years war it was briefly conquered by the Swedes before the treaty of Westphalia gave it to France. The subsequent centuries of turn and turnabout between Germany and France strengthened people’s regional identity; their links to whichever capital city claimed them at the time never grew that strong”

Klein finished ‘People here feel deeply European’

…And Veronique drove us up to the top of the hill where there Grand Cru Estate – Clos St Landelin was situated…and what a view…it felt like you were breathing in the whole of Europe – On every point of the compass – France, Germany, Switzerland – the World.

IMG_6725Veronique stated…”There are 51 Grand Cru vineyard in Alsace – every one is different – the variation in soil type and terroir is extremely wide”

The Clos St Landelin is deep Red Clay – seriously like Mars – with beautiful green hills in the back ground, and mountains further than that. The vines are close and low planted on steep slopes. You can feel the family history in the slopes and the immense pride that Veronique has for this vineyard. We return to the Cellar door and taste the wines.IMG_6737

The wines of Domain Mure have a distinct fattiness and body to the texture that is unmistakeable. They are balanced and powerful, and only improve with age. The Clos St Landelin wines are to be savoured – their essence being their harmony, texture and power. On surprise was the Pinot Noir from Rouffach. It was sensational – concentration, ripe fruit, earthy characters – delicious – I placed an order immediately.

And so we carried on up North…to the town of Bergheim…WOW – If you ever wondered where Hansel and Gretel came from – this was it…as we walked across the moat through the North gate into the cobbled streets it was like stepping back in time. It felt wrong to be wearing jeans and shirt – I needed some kind of boiled leather pants and rough spun tunic…and so we stepped forward to the true highlight of the trip – The Wistub du Sommelier. Let’s just say this ranks as one of my all-time top lunches.

In the most ‘higgledy piggledy’ two story house – Antje Schneider – the owner was a whirl of efficiency and knowledge – more like an animated school teacher – her flowery skirt, sharp features and wire glasses. “White Asparagus is in season” she told me. I researched the list (10 minutes) – I’d like a Grand Cru Riesling – I pointed at a few tried and tested which were also the most expensive – Trimbach’s Clos St Hune and Zind-Humbrecht.

Antje did not hesitate – she pointed to the 2012 Riesling Muenchberg Grand Cru from Domain Ostertag.

“This is Powerful from a Volcanic site giving very unique and strong flavours – it will work with your Asparagus Veloute and also your Main Course” said Antje – It was more of an instruction than a suggestion – and that’s how I like my Sommeliers….and it was sensational – needless to say Domain Ostertag is now going on the list.

…And with that we sauntered back contentedly to Strasbourg and embarked on our train home.

 

Cheers,

 

Puneet