A Testament to Quality

I vividly remember the first staff tasting of Alsatian producer Meyer-Fonné in January of 2007. We recently received a shipment of a dozen or so of their Rieslings, Pinot Blancs, Gewurztraminers, and Pinot Gris bottlings and Kermit was excited to show them off to the staff. He had tasted samples in France with Daniel Ravier, the winemaker of Domaine Tempier, and they were both stunned by the consistency, quality, and character of the wines. The staff immediately got hooked on the über-floral, rose petal aroma emanating from our glasses. You could smell the wine from three feet away.

I’ve been fortunate enough to drink Alsatian vintages back to the 80s and Mosel Rieslings from the 70s. Though tasting aged Rieslings and Gewurztraminers is an unforgettable experience, these wines taste so good young, as well. For me, determining whether an Alsatian wine will age or not is based more on familiarity with the history of a producer’s wines than with interpreting the structure and character of a young wine.

Some of my questions regarding the longevity of the wines of Meyer-Fonné were answered when I came across a bottle of 1999 Riesling Katzenthal (which Kermit did not import at the time) in a friends cellar a few month’s ago. I brought it into work and tasted it with the staff. The Riesling Katzenthal is one of Meyer-Fonné’s mid-level wines. The 2008 retails for $28.00, well below the grand crus that retail in the $40s, and a few dollars above the 2008 Riesling Réserve at $22.00. I knew the wine had been stored properly so the quality of the wine would determine whether the wine had aged well.

The wine stopped the tasting in its tracks, as often happens when the staff is completely enthralled with a wine. The 1999 inspired introspective awe. We all contemplated how wonderfully the wine had developed over the years. The classic Meyer-Fonné floral aroma was present, but had taken on darker, earthier notes. There was a touch of petrol, a hint of leather, and a prominent texture and grain. It left me ruminating about the splendors that some of his aged grand cru wines must hold. I plan to discover these pleasures in due time when I start cellaring Meyer-Fonné’s wines and I highly recommend you do the same.

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