Alsace Pinot Gris

Firmly part of territorial France in the 21st century, Alsace has been enriched by its dual Frankish and Germanic cultural history while experiencing some geopolitical upheaval due to the competing aspirations of its two parent nations. Colonized by 1st century BC. Romans; allied with the Medieval Holy Roman Empire a millennium or so later; occupied by ambitious 16th century French Kings; annexed by Germans in the late 19th century during the Franco-Prussian War; ceded back to France in the terms of armistice following the First World War, and finally, after many areas were entirely destroyed in the second world war bombing campaign by Allied forces–reaffirmed as French again. Throughout all of this tumult, steadfast Alsatians have rebuilt and found imaginative ways to keep producing fine grapes and a highly distinctive quality of wines.

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape that originated in the neighbouring vineyards of France’s Burgundy, then was proliferated throughout Europe–notably, popularized in Italy in the latter part of the 20th century where it’s known as Pinot Grigio. Derived from the larger Pinot family of grapes, this pink-skinned version with low acidity and relatively high sugar levels does well in cooler growing conditions such as Alsace and across the border around Baden, Germany.

Dating to the early 1700’s, the family winemaking estate of Joseph Cattin has been based in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards south of Colmar, between the villages of Voegtlinshoffen and Hattstatt. This storied region on the west bank of the Upper Rhine near the German border has excelled at cool-weather grape styles since the Middle Ages. The namesake of the current estate, Joseph, was an early 20th-century pioneer in combating the Phylloxera pest which did so much damage in Europe and beyond. Apart from continuing the development and expansion of what was then a modest 7-hectare property, he also studied and subsequently developed vine grafting techniques that became the viticultural model for many Alsatian growers to overcome the blight.

Later Cattin generations expanded the estate to over 50 hectares, as well as, engaged numerous local growers to cultivate according to the family’s exacting standard. With most of the combined vineyards sheltered in among the south-east facing foothills of the Vosges mountains, these terroirs of the Pinot Gris AOC d’Alsace with their highly variable soils and moderate climate help the vines yield a broad range of early ripening fruit with a well-rounded character.

This 2016 offering won Gold at the 2017 Concours Général Agricole de Paris
– as a follow-on to a long lineage of medal accolades for previous vintages.

JOSEPH CATTIN PINOT GRIS 2016
VINTAGES/LCBO – Product #196956 | 750 mL bottle
Price $16.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Alsace, France
By: Cattin Freres
Release Date: July 7, 2018

Tasting Note
As is typical with this wine style in an Alsatian version, it’s more fulsome than its Italian Pinot Grigio cousins with aroma and flavour notes of stone fruit, accented by hints of
almond and honey. Try serving this with a broad range of vegetable-based dishes, pasta and cream sauces, or as an apéritif with foie-gras.

Pinot Gris Alert

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape that originated in the neighbouring vineyards of
France’s Burgundy, then was proliferated around Europe – notably popularized
in Italy in the latter part of the 20th century where it’s known as Pinot Grigio.
Derived from the larger Pinot family of grapes, this pink-skinned version with low
acidity and relatively high sugar levels does very well in cooler growing conditions
such as Alsace and across the border around Baden, Germany.

Dating to the early 1700’s, the family winemaking estate of Joseph Cattin has
been based in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards south of Colmar, between the
villages of Voegtlinshoffen and Hattstatt. This storied region on the west bank
of the Upper Rhine near the German border has excelled at cool-weather grape
styles since the Middle Ages. The namesake of the current estate, Joseph, was
an early 20th century pioneer in combating the Phylloxera pest which did so much
damage throughout Europe and beyond. Apart from continuing the development
and expansion of what was then a modest 7 hectare property, he also studied
and subsequently developed vine grafting techniques which ultimately became
the viticultural model for many Alsatian growers to overcome the blight.

Later generations expanded the estate to over 50 hectares, as well as, engaged
numerous local growers to cultivate according to the family’s exacting standard.
With most of the combined vineyards sheltered in among the south-east facing
foothills of the Vosges mountains, these terroirs of the Pinot Gris AOC d’Alsace
with their highly variable soils and moderate climate help the vines yield a broad
range of early ripening fruit with well-rounded character.

This 2012 offering won Gold at the 2013 Concours Général Agricole de Paris
– this win being a follow-on to numerous medal accolades for previous vintages.

Pinot Gris

JOSEPH CATTIN PINOT GRIS 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #196956 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Alsace, France
By: Cattin Freres
Release Date: August 30, 2014

Tasting Note
As is more typical with this wine style in an Alsatian version, it’s richer than its
Italian cousins with aroma and flavour notes of stone fruit, accented by hints of
almond and honey. Try serving this with a broad range of vegetable-based dishes,
pasta and cream sauces, or as an apéritif with foie-gras.

Pinot Gris Alert

Here in Baden, in the south-western region of Germany across the border from
Alsace, both Pinot Blanc and Noir grapes are grown on the verdant slopes of an
ancient Vulkanfelsen (volcano) that was bestowed in the early 13th century with
the auspicious moniker: Kaiserstuhl (the Kaiser’s throne). Among many other
surprising attributes of soil and climate, this remarkable region also plays host
to Europe’s largest variety of Orchids, wild Grape Hyacinths and Iris’s!

As for the current range of German wine exports, the industry is still working to
overcome associations by north American consumers – that they only produce
various types of Riesling, particularly, sweeter versions. Gradually, with the help
of Pinot Gris (here also locally known as Rulander or Grauburgunder), the broad
diversification of wine styles being released from the cool cellars of this week’s
DéClassé recommended vintner Königschaffhausen, as well as, from nearby
vineyards of Baden – is tempering and expanding this outdated impression.

Dry, silky, elegant and loads of depth – by comparison, this week’s bottling shows
a level of quality and character that puts most star whites such as Soave, Grigio
or Sauvignon to shame for their lack of distinction. Just released to Vintages,
this week’s recommendation is on many ‘best of the month’ lists, so will require
some Olympian sprinting to get to the shelves before it’s gone until next year. If
you are a white wine lover, don’t hesitate to buy half a case. If you’re among the
pack of intransigent red wine lovers – then only buy 3 so you have something
truly interesting to offer your white wine-loving friends!

Konigschaffhausener Vulkanfelsen

KÖNIGSCHAFFHAUSEN VULKANFELSEN TROCKEN PINOT GRIS 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #597500 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 15.95
13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Baden, Germany
By: W.G. Koenigschaffhausen Eg
Release Date: May 10, 2014

Tasting Note
Delicate floral aromas as well as pear and stone fruits. This dry, mid-weight white
is a fabulous value to serve with cheeses, roast chicken or smoked fish.