Tasting: Creamy, cherry liqueur, vanilla, crunchy stony minerality. Pairing: soft and nutty cheeses, macadamia nut-crusted halibut, and pork tenderloin with fresh rosemary and lemon thyme
Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Alsace, France
Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland. The geography of the wine growing area in Alsace is determined by two main factors, the Vosges mountains in the west and the Rhine river in the east. The vineyards are concentrated in a narrow strip, running in a roughly north–south direction, on the lower eastern slopes of the Vosges, at altitudes of 175–420 m. Those altitudes provide a good balance between temperature, drainage and sun exposure under Alsace's growing conditions. Because of predominantly westerly winds, the Vosges mountains tend to shelter Alsace from rain and maritime influence, and the region is therefore rather dry and sunny. Rainfall in Colmar is 500 mm, but can vary greatly between sites, and is the driest city in France. While the slope down the Vosges is generally east-facing, many of the best sites are south-west to south-east facing, and benefit from extra sun exposure. Alsace's geology is quite varied, with many different kinds of soils represented in the vineyards. Alsace’s soils are a result of its location at a geological fault. Alsace as a whole is located on the western part of the Rhine Graben, which is the result of two systems of parallel faults, with a dropped down block between the Vosges and the Black Forest
The Domaine Ansen Cremant d’Alsace Struch Brut is a Blanc de Noir of Pinot Noir from a small plot of vines planted on a southward facing hill called Struch. The weather in 2016 required a lot of attention in the vineyards, but by the time harvest came, the weather spiked and allowed for some very healthy grapes. The clay and limestone soils are difficult on this hill, and force the vine roots to go very deep for nutrients, therefore showing great elegance and length in the final wine.
Vinification: The Domaine Ansen Cremant d’Alsace Struch Brut is a Blanc de Noir of Pinot Noir from a small plot of vines planted on a southward facing hill called Struch. The fruit was pressed from whole bunches into stainless steel tanks and a very neutral yeast was used to aid in fermentation in order to keep the temperatures very low and the aromatics and phenolics of the wine present. The wine was bottled and then after 30 months of rest, was disgorged and given a dosage from its own grape’s residual sugar.
About the Winemaker: In the northernmost hills of the Alsace AOC of eastern France, Domaine Ansen has been a family of grape growers, fruit orchard farmers, cattle raisers, and all things in between, for over 400 years. In the mid-nineties, Daniel Ansen set out to learn the trade of winemaking, spending time not only in Alsace, but also Australia, the United States, and Bordeaux, where he went to enology school. In 2010 he moved back into the old family house with his wife Karine and took over the fields from his father, looking forward to converting everything to organic viticulture, and starting to make wine from their own grapes that had always gone to a local cooperative. Slowly expanding in Alsace's divers land, Daniel farms 8.5 hectares, in 40 plots (some are as small as 2 rows of vines), to 8 varieties, on 3 different soil types (black clay, limestone, and sandstone). Careful hand harvesting, the use of stainless steel for natural fermentations and aging, and very little (to zero) sulfite use in the finished wines, he lets each grape express their natural characteristics to the fullest, be it laser acidity, sweet ripe fruit, or a combination of both.