Tasting a range of Alsatian wines

March 27, 1994|By Michael Dresser

The following Alsace wines were bought in Maryland and the District of Columbia in recent months. Within each varietal, they are listed in order of preference.

Pinot blanc

* 1992 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Reserve "Clos des Capucins" ($12). This ripe, lush, lovely wine with the creamy texture and flavors of peach, pear and tropical fruit will delight wine drinkers over the next two years. Exceptional value.

* 1991 Marcel Deiss, Bergheim ($11). This intense wine would be perfect with salmon. It displays wonderful pear, melon, litchi and mineral flavors. Great value.

* 1991 Marcel Deiss, Bennwihr ($10). Much like Deiss' Bergheim pinot blanc, but a shade lighter. Another great value.

* 1991 Pierre Sparr ($9). Rather thin, a wine that didn't rise above the difficulties of the vintage.

Riesling

* 1989 Marcel Deiss Riesling Bergheim Vendange Tardive ($19). This late-harvest dessert wine might be difficult to find, but if you see it, here's a real bargain. It offers tremendous complexity and lush, lightly sweet flavors. It finishes very dry.

* 1991 Zind-Humbrecht, Turckheim ($23.49). This exquisite, superconcentrated riesling has an amazing palette of flavors: lemon, pear, peach, dry honey, clean wet stones. The intensity is mind-boggling. This wine will age for five to 10 years or more.

* 1992 Lucien Albrecht ($10). This rather thin, lemony wine is decent but unexciting.

Gewurztraminer

* 1991 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer ($26.59). Sure it's expensive, but it's also so far superior that it's still a bargain. The concentration of this wine has to be tasted to be believed. It's hard to comprehend that any wine so big can still be so graceful. The flavors include tropical spices, peach, pear, apricot and honey, but also much more. All hail!

* 1991 Pierre Sparr ($12). No blockbuster, this dry, lively, elegant wine could be described as typical of gewurztraminer when it's successful.

* 1991 Freyburger Reserve ($13). This pleasant, plump wine is marred by a bit of residual sugar that sticks out like a sore thumb. Despite pleasant flavors, the overall impression is flabby.

* 1991 Trimbach ($13.49). This pleasant, plump wine lacks structure. While it could be fun for a glass or two, it would soon get wearisome.

Tokay Pinot Gris

* 1991 Marcel Deiss, Bergheim ($17). This deep golden, dry wine offers a fascinating blend of peach, pear, honey, nutmeg and apricot flavors. Probably not for long aging, it's a decadent joy for drinking now.

* 1991 A. Mann Vieille Vignes ($16.49). An earthy, powerful wine with flavors of peach, pear, spice and mineral. The concentration is reminiscent of a better year.

* 1992 Lucien Albrecht ($9.49). This soft, watery wine is barely acceptable.

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