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Lance Cameron’s Family Estate Burgundy and Alsace Wines

By May 10, 2014No Comments
We tend not to think of Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty to be a prominent wine area of New Zealand nowadays, but a little delving proves that wrong. Mills Reef drawing fruit from the Gimblett Gravels and Hawke’s Bay has its headquarters and winery there, and Morton Estate has its long-established Katikati winery in the district too. Steve Bird of Steve Bird Wines and Chris Gambitsis of Lake Chalice have their homes there, as does the Argentine importers Chris Emmett and Josefina Telleria of South2South.

In Tauranga, I have a long-established wine contact in Lance Cameron, who works for Constellation Brands N.Z.; he is one of the most passionate wine enthusiasts I have ever come across. Lance is the ultimate Alsace wine lover. In his spare time and holidays, he has visited the region 16 times and participated in 8 vintages there since 1989. On his travels, he has made a point of visiting a number of the smaller, family estate in Alsace, getting to know the people personally, befriending them. On several trips, Lance has brought his friends and wine lovers to visit these estates. And of course, Lance arranges for a selection of his favourite wines to be sent to New Zealand every few years. Being a very generous man, Lance invites friends to taste these wines with him, sharing in his discoveries. I was privileged to attend his tasting held in September 2011 (click here to see my report).

Lance Cameron – Alsace Wine Lover

This Year’s Tasting
I got the call-up again to taste a selection of wines from his latest consignment. He’d extended his travels into Burgundy, and this time, there were wines from one Rully producer and from four Alsace growers. There were wines from others not included, and it appears there will be another tasting later in the year! The tasting was a rapid-fire event, very relaxed and without pretension. Of the attendees, most were familiar with the producers, some having visited with Lance before. The wines are not for commercial sale, as they are earmarked for private consumption. The wines were a delight to experience, and I can certainly depend on Lance’s good taste in choosing some interesting numbers. I didn’t have the time to take full notes, but I offer my impressions of what passed may way.

The Rully wines of Jean-Claude & Anna Breliere

Jean-Claude & Anna Breliere
Jean-Claude and Anna Breliere run this 7 ha Rully domaine established by Jean-Claude’s parents in 1948. Planted equally to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, estate is managed biodynamically and the annual production s around 3,500 cases.

Four wines from this Cotes Chalonnaise producer tasted, two Chardonnay whites and two Pinot Noir reds. Firstly the Rully Blanc ‘La Barre’ 2011 (16.0+/20), light golden, quite up-front, harmonious and straightforward with stonefruit and nutty aromas, this has a good body but somewhat light in fruit. Clean stonefruits and citrus fruits, soft textured and soft acids, uncomplicated. A step up was the Rully 1er Blanc ‘Les Margotes’ 2011 (17.5/20), light golden, with good depth and concentration on bouquet, with interest from nutty, mealy barrel-ferment. On palate, attractive barrel work providing richness and rounded textures with weight, the stonefruit and oaking very positive.
Of the reds, the Rully ‘Les Preaux’ 2011 (15.0/20) pale in colour, with some bricking, soft with strawberry and earthy aromas, along with savoury herbs. The palate with typical rusticity, acid-tinged red fruits with herb notes and grainy tannin textures, tending dry on finish. Again, a step up was the Rully 1er ‘Les Champs Cloux’ 2011 (16.5+/20), with deepish garnet colour, and firmness and concentration on nose, ripe strawberry fruit, with background herbs and earth. On palate, there is depth with fruit sweetness, balanced by fresh acidity and sinewy tannins, lending the palate ‘puissance’.

Bernhard & Reibel and Frederic Mochel – Alsace

Bernhard & Reibel, at Chatenois and Scherwiller, with 19 ha of certified organic vines in the sites ‘Hahnenberg’, ‘Weingarten’, ‘Meisenberg’, ‘Coteau du Haut-Koenigsbourg’ and ‘Rittersberg’, making “wines of granite”. The domaine is run by Cecile Bernhard and her son Pierre and produces around 10,000 cases annually.

One wine tasted from Bernhard & Reibel, the rest in a follow-up tasting. The Alsace Pinot Blanc 2011 (17.0+/20) deep, light-golden colour. The nose is full of ripe yellow stonefruits along with honey notes, showing positive botrytis. Off-dry, the palate is poised with fresh acidity alongside honied stonefruit flavours. More Pinot Gris-like, with a full, soft, rounded mouthfeel, and a little lift. This has consumer appeal.

Frederic Mochel, established in 1669 at Traenheim, around 20 km west of Strasbourg. The domaine has 10 ha of vines, 5 ha in the grand cru ‘Altenberg de Bergbieten’, and is run by the current Frederic and his son Guillaume.

Two Muscat wines tasted from Mochel, the rest of the range to follow in the next tasting. The Alsace Muscat 2012 (16.5/20) quite pale in colour, and tightly bound and slender on bouquet with lifted florals and purity of grapey, musky notes. Dry and light, quite one-dimensional expression but with clarity and purity. Some alcohol heat for the size, and vinously textured rather than fruit expressive. Somewhat steely. Again a step up with the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Altenberg de Bergbieten’ Muscat 2012 (17.5+/20), light golden straw colour, this is full with broad, ripe tropical fruit with ethereal waves of musk and grapey aromatics. Quite dry, but mouthfilling with mellow tropical fruits and musk fruit flavours, building in depth and weight, some alcohol heat present adding to the size.

Aime Stentz ‘Cuvees Traditionnelles’

Aimé Stentz, based at Wettolsheim, east of Colmar, with 14.5 ha spread over 55 parcels. Certified ‘Ecocert’ organic, with holdings in the grand crus of ‘Hengst’, ‘Sommerberg’ and ‘Steingrubler’. A specialty is the ‘Clos du Vicus Romain’, in honour of archeological findings of a Roman hostel in the Hengst site. Aimé’s sons Etienne and Louis have run the estate since 1979.

The Stentz wines were represented by 4 ‘Cuvees Traditionnelles’ followed by 4 ‘Vins de Prestige’ including a ‘Clos du Vicus Romain’.

The first flight was led by the Alsace ‘Rosenberg’ Pinot Blanc 2012 (17.5/20), brilliant straw-lemon coloured, this is clean, crisp and minerally with delicate notes of wet stones and smoke. Dry to taste, the palate is vinous with some good textures, the fruit in the stonefruit and nutty spectrum. The fruit sweetness emerges, enhanced by the acidity and a phenolic line. The Alsace ‘Neufeld’ Riesling 2010 (16.5+/20), also brilliant straw-lemon coloured, is soft and light on bouquet. Some savoury honey and toastiness leads to nutty notes, and a hint of oxidation. Dry to taste, the palate features a complex citrus, stonefruit, nutty lees expression and some grainy phenolics that add to the dry mouthfeel. The fruit extract is positive. This followed by the Alsace ‘Rosenberg’ Pinot Gris 2011 (18.0-/20), bright, light golden straw colour, this has a fresh, lifted and aromatic bouquet with good volume of citrus and tropical fruits with honied richness. Off-dry to taste, the palate is weighty and unctuous, with fruit depth, along with subtle nutty lees elements adding a layer of interest. This is definitive Alsace Pinot Gris. The final of the flight was the Alsace Muscat 2011 (17.0+/20), light straw-yellow in colour, the nose is soft and light, with a growing breadth with well-harmonised aromas of white flowers and musk. Dry to taste, the white floral and grapey flavours are more elegant in expression, but the palate has good mouthfeel and fine, soft textures. This gently grows in presence in the glass.

Aime Stentz ‘Vins de Prestige’

The second flight began with the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Hengst’ Pinot Gris 2011 (19.0-/20), light golden yellow colour, the nose is full, bold and ripe with aromas of yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits, honey and a fine, underlying nutty, minerally, lees notes adding complexity. Medium in sweetness, the palate is one of power, richness, depth and drive, the mouthfeel near-unctuous with alcohol body in support. Lush flavours of tropical fruit, honey and subtle lees complexities blossom and carry to a long finish. Next was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Hengst’ ‘Cuvee du Vicus Romain’ Pinot Gris 2011 (18.5+/20), also light golden-yellow colour, very full and densely packed on nose, with restrained fruit aromatics, showing stonefruits, minerals and honey, but quietly so, the bouquet with brooding depth and presence however. Medium-sweet, the palate is powerfully dense and packed with fruit extract. The flavours are subdued, but the mouthfeel is unctuous, rounded and concentrated. The acidity is discreet, contributing to the mellow fullness. Late-picked wines brought up the last Steltz wines, led by the Alsace Muscat Vendanges Tardive 2011 (18.0+/20). Bright, light golden-hued straw colour, the bouquet is very gentle and mellow, with beautifully integrated aromas of musk, grapes and honey. Medium-sweet to taste, the musky Muscat varietal flavours are restrained, with subtly developing and unfolding musk, stonefruit and honey notes emerging in the glass. The acidity is low, and some phenolic graininess features in the texture. The final wine here was the Alsace Gewurztraminer ‘Cuvee de la Premier Neige’ 2011 (18.5/20), light golden coloured, the nose is gently full with lifted exotic florals, along with background spice and honied notes. The bouquet exudes finesse. Medium-sweet and rich on palate, the fruit is solidly presented with concentration, density and excellent presence, underlined by fine phenolic textures. The mouthfeel is rounded and driven with alcoholic power and fruit extract. There is an overall balance, and the flavours are carried to a lifted finish.

Dirler-Cade, Alsace – Varietals

Dirler-Cade, based at Bergholtz, west of Guebwiller, with 18 ha managed under certified biodynamic viticulture, 42% of the holdings in the grand crus of ‘Saering’, ‘Spiegel’, ‘Kessler’ and ‘Kitterlé’. The Dirler domaine, increased its holdings with the merger of the Hell-Cade estate holdings. It is run by Jean and Ludivine Dirler and is highly regarded.

A wide and varied range of wines were presented here, grouped firstly to varietal bottlings, followed by a grand cru flight, then a grand cru Gewurztraminer bracket, finishing with a pair of Vendages Tardives.

Leading the varietal set was the Alsace Sylvaner ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2011 (17.0+/20), straw-yellow in colour, this has a full boquet with fresh and bright white stonefruit and citrus aromas infused with earth and minerals. Fulsome and sturdy, with a degree of rusticity, being the Sylvaner varietal expression, this has succulence, sweetness and richness, resulting in an accessible palate with plenty of vinosity. A good example. Next the Alsace Pinot ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2011 (17.5/20), bright, light straw-yellow in colour and very elegant and refined on bouquet. This has delicate and steely stonefruit aromas of purity and clarity, quite pristine and mouth-wateringly fresh. Dry to taste, the palate is finely expressed, tight with clean and clear white stonefruit and wet stone flavours. Softly textured, the acidity provides poise and tension, and the flavours flow effortlessly following a very fine-textured line. Third noted was the Alsace Riesling 2011 (17.5-/20), bright straw-yellow with pale edge, this is very tightly bound with finely expressed lime fruit entwined with minerals, and slight nutty, lees and subtle oxidative nuances. Dry to taste, stonefruits and minerals feature in the flavour, the palate tight and linear, with a steely mouthfeel and some alcoholic power emerging through the mid-palate. The phenolics become a little apparent, leading to a dry finish. Finally an Alsace Pinot Gris ‘Lieu-dit Schimberg’ 2011 (17.5-/20). Bright, light straw-yellow with a hint of gold. Somewhat shy on bouquet, the aromatics reveal nutty stonefruits allied to steely minerals. Off-dry to taste, the flavours reflect the nose with their reticence, but the palate has good fruit density and weight. Clean, pure, minerally stonefruits feature. As the flavours flow, the mouthfeel becomes progressively drier, and some alcoholic warmth becomes noticeable.

Dirler-Cade, Alsace – Grand Cru

The grand cru flight was headed by the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Spiegel’ Riesling 2010 (18.5+/20), bright, light golden-yellow colour, lighter on edge. The bouquet is full, broad and intense with an amalgam of limes, white stonefruits, minerals and honied elements, beautifully integrated and balanced. Dryish to taste, the fruit has a lusciousness of expression, with an intriguing combination of minerals, steel, citrus fruit, nuts and honey. The palate has a fine, firm and tight core with the drive to bestow an elegant linearity. Richness and finesse are balanced by acidity and very fine phenolics. This is excellent Riesling showing interest already, but it will develop further. Following was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Kessler’ Pinot Gris 2011 (18.0/20), bright light straw with golden hues to the colour, this has an elegant and firmly composed bouquet with intensity and penetrating aromas of white stonefruits and savoury honied elements. Off-dry to taste, the palate features a concentrated core of steely citrus fruits, white stonefruits, honey and lifted florals. The fruit carries a subtle sweetness with a fine, cutting mouthfeel and alcoholic linearity that leads to an aromatic, floral nuanced finish. The last of this trio was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Saering’ Muscat 2011 (18.0/20), bright pale straw-yellow colour with a pale rim. The nose is one of elegance with fine perfumes of pure florals and musk that are penetrating with clarity. Dry to off-dry in taste, the flavours of florals, musk and grapes reveal notes of liquorice, ginger and spices. The palate is tightly bound, soft-textured and a little low in acidity, but the clarity of the fruit and richness provide the linearity.

Dirler-Cade, Alsace – Grand Cru Gewurztraminer

The trio of grand cru Gewurztraminers was superb. First was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Kitterlé’ Gewurztraminer 2009 (18.5/20), bright straw-yellow with lemony hues, the aromatic profile is very tight with an amalgam of rose-petals, ginger, earth and nutty, lees work, along with a steeliness. Off-dry to taste, the palate is tightly bound and restrained, with the richness and fruit sweetness quite discreet. Very attractive nutty and honied elements emerge, adding to the array of flavours and a degree of unctuousness. The Alsace Grand Cru ‘Kessler’ Gewurztraminer 2009 (18.5+/20) is deep, light golden-yellow colour, with a full, broad nose, with honey, ripe tropical fruits, exotic florals, complexed by earth and mineral notes. Off-dry to taste, the mouthfeel is fulsome, luscious and powerful with some alcohol drive. The flavours are expansive with ripe, savoury stonefruits, root-ginger, earthy spices and late-pick honied elements. Then the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Kessler’ Gewurztraminer 2005 (19.0-/20), light golden-yellow in colour, the bouquet is full, voluminous with bright, rich and complex aromas with waves of savoury exotic and tropical fruits, honey and creaming soda. Medium-dry to taste, rounded, luscious and unctuous textures are the base for ripe and complex apricot, ginger and spicy exotic fruit flavours that unfold honey and creaming soda. This has developed beautifully and its soft breadth and touch of bitterness show full maturity.

Dirler-Cade, Alsace – Vendanges Tardives

Arguably the star of the tasting was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Kessler’ Pinot Gris Vendages Tardive 2009 (19.0+/20), deep light golden-yellow colour, this has a full, densely concentrated nose of ripe yellow stonefruits, tropical fruits and honey, with layers of spice, floral and savoury stonefruit kernel complexities. Sweet to taste, the palate weight, density and concentration is the feature, and the wine has unctuousness and richness. The fruit is brooding and bound, opening to show ripe tropical fruits, honey and considerable detail and interest. There is power and positive flow with drive and energy. The final wine was the Alsace Grand Cru ‘Spiegel’ Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardive 2009 (19.0-/20), bright light golden yellow in colour, the bouquet is full. Voluminous and voluptuous, but also complex in expression with an amalgam of ripe, honied, tropical fruits, exotic spices and florals, ginger and nutty, earthy lees. Sweet to taste, the mouthfeel is soft, luscious, near decadent with honey, creaming soda and ginger fruit flavours, lifted with floral esters. The palate is smooth-flowing, and mouthfilling, and the mellow richness opens with layers of opulent flavours.

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