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Sweet Alsace

crab The Dungeness Crab season along the Oregon and Northern California coast is something I look forward to every year. They’re so succulent that dipping them in butter is redundant.

With this lusciousness in mind, I selected the 2004 Audrey et Christian Binner Pinot Gris for what I knew were going to be some great crabs. The crabs exceeded even my highest expectations and were perhaps the best I ever tasted (I think I say that every year), but the wine only reminded me why I buy so few Alsatian wines these days. The Binner was out-and-out sweet and was cloying with the crab. Cloying was not the flavor match I was going for – rich and concentrated yes, but cloying no. While the Binner would be outstanding with a cheese course, it was terrible with crab.

Alsatian wines used to be one of my go-to wines. They were always balanced with a firm, complex minerality No more, you’re more likely to find ripe apricot than firm mineral in the wines and the various varieties have started to lose their individuality and meld into one unctuous sameness.

The thing that bothers me most about the sweetening of Alsace is they don’t give you a hint on the label except for their ultra-rich dessert wines Vendage Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.  But for everything else, if they’re going  to continue making wines like this (as they surely will considering the high points they get) they should start doing like the Germans do and tell us on the label how sweet they are.

The Binner is a wonderful wine and my remaining two bottles will be finding themselves bonding with some Munster instead of clashing with some crab. It would be a perfect wine if they only put a little more information on the label.

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