Monday, January 18, 2016

#WineStudio – Tanaro River Imports & Florian Beck-Hartweg

January's online session of #Winestudio features George Tita of Tanaro River Imports, which specializing in small producers in northern Italy and France. This month will feature a few of Tanaro's wines made by young winemakers who have maintained the traditional of their forefathers. One of these “young turks” is Florian Beck-Hartweg, who along with his wife Mathilde, are the fourteenth generation to work the family vineyards in Alsace. These vineyards are situated in northern Alsace near the village of Dambach-la-Ville.

Old traditions are followed as Florian utilizes century old oak casks to ferment and age the wine; natural yeast for fermentation; and only adding a small quantity of sulphur dioxide for preservation. Furthermore Beck-Hartweg stresses a spirit of cooperation with nature as depicted in their logo and imprinted on some of their corks. The logo shows a flower with a bee, which represents the wild green cover that is allowed to grow in their vineyards. This cover crop includes flowers which attract insects -- encouraging biodiversity. The particular bee drawn on the logo is a predator of the grape worm, which allows the winery to avoid the use of insecticides.

Beck-Hartweg's most famous wines are the Frankstein Grand Cru, but in this tasting we sampled a Riesling and Pinot Gris from their Prestige brand. These grapes are harvested from the same Frankstein vineyards; they are just located on opposite slopes with different sun exposures. Yet they all share the same granite mineral rich soil. The wines are also stamped with a Vigneron Indépendant label which designates that Florian Beck-Hartweg operates all phases of the wine's production from the viticulture to harvest to wine making to bottling.  Now that's hand crafted.

2011 Pinot Gris “Prestige” Beck-Hartweg ($20, 12.5%) - this is a mineral driven wine as the light citrus flavors are overshadowed by creamy minerals with solid acidic backbone. If you think of Pinot Gris as boring (like I used to) then try this wine; it will change your perception of the grape.

2012 Riesling Cuvée “Prestige” Beck-Hartweg ($20, 12.5%)- this is an acid driven wine with floral and light citrus flavors mingling with honey and nuts. There is a solid textured body and a long, long finish.  Well done.

One entertaining note is that Beck-Hartweg recommends serving the Riesling Cuvée with sauerkraut. I mimicked that pairing and for my tastes determined that the Pinot Gris was actually a better partner as it coated and dampened the sourness On the other hand the Riesling seemed to blend and extend the sour flavors. Nevertheless an interesting pairing.

On Tuesday January 19, #Winestudio will move into northern Italy with Dolcetto and Barbera. Join the conversation.

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