Wine of the Month Club | Tasting with Charles Sparr from Alsace

Alright, hey welcome to the continuing wine makers series here in the Wine of the Month Club. It’s been a lot of fun running through all the different parts of the world and the countries. And we’re so excited. We have the Sparr family here, Charles Sparr from Alsace. And these are wines that we love here at the Wine of the Month Club. And we’ve done a few from the family. How many generations are we talking about with the Sparr family and Alsacian wines?

Charles: Actually I’m the tenth generation.

Paul: Tenth generation? So it’s great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather, or something in that range.

Charles: Yeah, since 1680.

Paul: 1680, so the vineyards that we’re going to be tasting form were from?

Charles: Riviera, Riviera or the city?

Paul: Yes. They’re that old? Or they’ve been replanted and whatever, but always in the family control?

Charles: Always, always.

Paul: That’s amazing. Now, we did feature some Alsacian wines, I guess it was your family’s still. But it was, which bar was that?

Charles: Pierre’s Bar.

Paul: Pierre’s Bar, right? So that’s a family member but you guys now are separated.

Charles: Yeah, that’s right, yeah.

Paul: Okay, well that happens sometimes in this business, right?

Charles: And now we’re guaranteed than your winery. It’s part of our tradition.

Paul: It’s part of tradition. And now you’re thinking about, ‘We’re not in the US yet.’ don’t you?

Charles: No, we’re not in the US, no.

Paul: I’m so excited! We were like we’re one of the first one to taste it, right?

Charles: Yeah, you’re the first to taste it.

Paul: I love it. Thanks to Nick here, he’s the topnotch sales guy in the world. He retired but now he’s back again, and that’s very exciting for us. So we’re going to taste the three wines that you brought today, and I love them all. They’re very good. And we don’t get a lot of Alsacian wines here. And sometimes, they give a lot of kind of insipid. They’re a little light, they’re a little too thin, they just don’t have all of character. Now, all three of them distinctively have their own character. So tell us a little bit about this 2008 Riesling. Is this your first vintage as the new?

Charles: No, I just finished my studies so the first vintage will be this year, 2010.

Paul: Wow! Really? Okay. So did you study the viticulture? Where?

Charles: Yeah, I did my first diploma in viticulture and enology in Bourne, in Burgundy.

Paul: In Bourne, really?

Charles: And I did the second diploma in [inaudible 2:02] also in Burgundy.

Paul: Wow, interesting. And you passed? Excellent, good for you. Congratulations. I love this wine because first, look at the color, it’s very deceiving because it’s got a lot of color. It’s got sort of a chartreuse, kind of a green hue to it. But the nose is so feminine. Yeah, I love it, it just kind of dances off your nose.

Charles: Lemon.

Paul: They got a little lemon, little citrus in there.

Charles: [inaudible 2:26]

Paul: Wow. This is what Alsacian wine should taste like, in my opinion. They should be feminine, they should be light, they should be easy to drink. But they carry some complexity with them in the middle there, so exciting. In the mid-palate, all kinds of things going on, you get the lemon, you get the green apple, I get a little lychee in that.

Charles: Well balanced, nice acidity.

Paul: The acidity is very nice. I still taste the wine without any bitterness in the acid. Now tell me about the soil that these are grown.

Charles: So these are clay, limestone, facing south. So we have a nice maturity each year.

Paul: So all you’re saying it’s facing south, we get more sun that way?

Charles: Yeah. All day.

Paul: And these hillsides? And clay soil? So they have a lot to run off? And Riesling likes that? It’s gorgeous, I love that. I don’t want to put it down. I’ll keep drinking it. But I’m working. You can’t be drinking while working, right?

Charles: And with a fish, it’s perfect.

Paul: Yes, like a shell fish, crab, some lighter fishes. Now this one is really intriguing. This is the Pinot Gris from Sparr tradition 2008. So what was the first vintage that you made with your father, together?

Charles: So it was 2008.

Paul: This is it? After the family split, and you?

Charles: So it was 2008.

Paul: Wow, exciting. Now here’s the color. The color seems very similar. It’s a little darker than the Riesling, but the nose is so different. And what’s different about the way this Pinot Gris is grown?

Charles: So Pinot Gris, the soil too or? Soil is the same one, clay, limestone, also facing south. But it’s another great variety. This one is more rich.

Paul: I like the way this is made because I don’t think Pinot Gris or Grigio for that matter should have any oak. I think they should be crisp and light. And this is clearly has lots of lychee in that, and I got a little apricot and a peach in there. And the balance, it’s a little more weighty on the tongue than the Riesling is but it still finishes nice and crisp and clean.

Charles: This one is perfect with white meat

Paul: That is really fun. Now this is not a grey as it could be, right? Sometimes a Pinot Gris comes a little grey, so is grigio, Pinot Gris.

Charles: And we used to call Pinot Gris a Tokay Pinot Gris.

Paul: Oh Tokay Pinot Gris, right.

Charles: But the Hungarians take over the appellation Tokay, so now we have to call it Pinot Gris, no Tokay, no more.

Paul: Oh Pinot Gris, okay. Well I just bottled some Pinot Gris from Washington which was very good. I decided to call it Pinot Grigio, since people relate now with Pinot Grigio and San Bardolino, those kinds of things. But I think Alsacian wines Pinot Gris, and this is a great example. I hope we can do that wine. Now this one is really fun. Tell about the crew system in Alsace and this particular crew.

Charles: So we have 51 grand crus.

Paul: That was amazing when you say that. 51, that’s something Nick just found out. You’ve been in this business a long time, Nick.

Nick: You learn something every day in your lifetime.

Paul: It’s unbelievable. So 51 grand crus. And this one is the [inaudible 5:49].

Charles: So in the village [inaudible 5:51] same village as [inaudible 5:53] winery. You will see some vineyards there, also facing south, limestone, clay, same soil.

Paul: And so what give us the grand cru, just the designation from?

Charles: [inaudible 6:03]

Paul: For many, many years.

Charles: So the gradient makes the indignation, you know?

Paul: The design? And how long ago was that?

Charles: 30 years ago.

Paul: Oh, 30 years ago, so pretty recent then.

Charles: It’s recent, yeah.

Paul: Well this was excellent. And this has got probably what? 12 to 15% residual sugar in it? But man, it was just apricots, and peaches, and stone fruit throughout. And I think a very nice wine. And this is about a $30 cellar, I think a little less. But I would not be disappointed if I paid that in a wine shop and I got this kind of wine ’cause the quality is extraordinary.

Charles: Those wines will speak by end about mid-October, end of October.

Paul: So this is the Pinot Gris what, the late harvest?

Charles: Late harvest is more on beginning of November, mid-November.

Paul: I see. So it’s sort of they’re not rotten, they’re not dried up but they’re more developed than the Pinot Gris that I tasted. Wow, this is really gorgeous.

Charles: So my father made those wines. He was the winemaker for Pierre’s Bar 25 years long. So he has a lot of experience.

Paul: So who’s making the wines over there now?

Charles: So now the cooperative owns Pierre’s Bar.

Paul: So it’s a cooperative. So it says Pierre’s bar but it’s owned by a large organization.

Charles: We are smaller quantities, higher quality.

Paul: Wel, they’re great wines and I appreciate you bringing them in and bring them to America [inaudible 7:32]. And congratulations on your new degree. So 2009 is going to be your first vintage?

Charles: 2010, excuse me.

Paul: 2010, yes, wow that’s a big sign. Looking forward to taste it. Thanks for being here.

Charles: Nice to meet you.

Paul: My pleasure. See you next time.

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