Thursday, April 29, 2004

All About Fred...Hanging with Frederic Blanck at the Montréal Salon des Vins

It’s been a week since the salon ended and I feel as though I was a 10 year old, shit, I have to wait 364 more days until Christmas? With an easy 5000 bottles uncorked and waiting to be sipped, there is almost an understood obligation to go hard, give all the producers their due. Be Zorba the Dègustateur. This year I resisted. To taste a wine with the person who made it is a privilege, an opportunity for insight that can’t be had from a technical sheet. So I found my man Fred, from the great Alsace House of Blanck ( . Having drunk a couple of millésimes of both his Furstentum Reisling and Gewurztraminer, I already had a decent background with respect to his wines. Consider also that I am the only person to have ordered his Chasselas in North America, I had his curiosity piqued, a good thing to do if you want the vigneron to show you what he’s got (and what bottles are hidden under the table).
He is a passionate winemaker and a great winemaker. With a great respect for the terroir and his environment, Fred showed me with pride a number of his favorite vintages, and some of his most beloved wines. Here are some of my favorites.

Riesling Furstentum 2000 ($36) …. According to Fred it was a challenging year with respect to weather, ie. reduced crop size, and for me the complexity of the wines. Compared to the 1999, this Grand cru, while still in it’s youth is a very acceptable drink. None of that over the top petrol nose, just a delicious and balanced Reisling, though softer than the 99, less mineral and lacking a bit of cut. For the intellectual Reisling crowd, it’s definitely not the 99.

Gewurztraminer Furstentum Vieilles Vignes 2000 ($36)…. Fred loves his gewurz, and so do I. A wonderful combination of roses, citrus peel, and any number of exotic fruits all wrapped up in rich luscious coat. A mere baby, the incredible length finishes with a little too much zest, but with a little age and some food, it will do just fine.

Gewurztraminer Furstentum Vieilles Vignes1997 …. So I found the 2000 a little young, and had recently drunk a 1998, so Fred uncorked the 1997. A big year, a big wine, and a big difference. I confided that I preferred the Cuvée Theo from Weinbach, but that was pretty close. Almost too much flavour, with a density and softness that made you want to flop on a couch and drink it with someone equally soft and elegant.

Pinot Gris Furstentum Selection de Grains Nobles 1996… This was my favorite of the bunch. A super pretty Pinot Gris, still with enough acidity to keep it fresh without taking anything away from it’s honey-like texture. The botrytis is hidden away, acting like a ground wire to the explosion of fruit. Yep.

Riesling Furstentum sélection de grains nobles 1995...Incredible density. If I had a complaint, it was that it wasn’t a 1985. Fred agreed that the pieces were still coming together. It was at this point that I hiked across the convention hall to snag a taster of Tissot’s Vin de Paille for Fred…so there we were Alsace contre Jura…Boy do I love my job.

Next Blog, Salon favorites.

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