I Love Organic Wine - A Sylvaner From Alsace, France
We have already reviewed several wines, both white and red, from Alsace, the famous wine-growing region of eastern France. This wine is organic, or perhaps more precisely, this wine comes from vineyards that are on the way to organic certification. Fans of organic products know that certification is a lengthy, arduous process that serves to protect the consumer. If you are a real hardliner you won't drink wines that are not fully certified as organic. But other fans of organic wine will consider non-certified wines from producers who have made a true commitment to organic wine, as is the case of the wine reviewed below.
Alsace is located in eastern France and borders Germany. Although its wine-producing area is quite small, in fact the second smallest of France's eleven wine regions, it is quite well known for distinctive wines. The overwhelming majority of Alsatian wine is white. The Sylvaner grape tends not to be highly regarded but perhaps in the right winemaker's hands...
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Louis Sipp Sylvaner 2007 12.5% alcohol about $14.50
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials.
Description: Louis Sipp is a member of Tyflo, an association of Alsatian winegrowers who are keen to lessen the impact of their activities on the environment, and to market healthy products. Currently, the vineyards are in the process of conversion towards full organic certification. Tasting Note: Louis Sipp shows what can be done with Sylvaner when care is taken with each and every step of production. This one contains bright aromas of lime, spring flowers and mineral. Dry and crisp, this has a very tasty finish. Enjoy with grilled prawns or poached salmon. (VINTAGES panel, July 2008) And now for my review.
The first sips were too acidic. My mouth came close to puckering. The initial food pairing involved a barbecued chicken breast with potatoes roasted in chicken fat and a spicy salsa. The chicken definitely improved the wine. I did taste some lime but the Sylvaner continued to be overly acidic. Perhaps surprisingly, even the potatoes' grease didn't cut the wine's acidity. The salsa succeeded in taming its excessive acidity but the wine only displayed a trace of lime to accompany the salsa's lime.
The second pairing involved a packaged eggplant parmigiana (as close to organic as any of the foods tasted here) covered with grated parmesan cheese. This time the Sylvaner was pleasantly but not overly acidic. Its lime notes were refreshing. I didn't feel that the wine was fighting the dish's tomatoes. I was well pleased with its touch of sweetness. I finished the meal with a high-quality ice cream bar coated with chocolate. The wine lost its sweetness but did manage to keep some of the lime.
The final meal centered around grilled merguez; fatty, spicy lamb sausages. The wine was quite appley, very refreshing, and lightly acidic. On the downside it was not very long. The side dish was sliced eggplant that was marinated in a little olive oil, spiced with cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and onion powder. On the positive side the wine seemed to take on its own oiliness. On the negative side the eggplant was overspiced with respect to the wine but some apple-lime flavors managed to break through.
In the presence of Marbled Cheddar cheese the wine was lightly acidic with some lime. When faced with Havarti the wine was rounder and a bit sweet but the fruit was gone.
Final verdict. Good, but not good enough. I'll be tasting several organic and biodynamic wines and fully expect that many of them will be better than this Sylvaner.
In his younger days Levi Reiss wrote or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but he prefers drinking fine German or other wine with the right foods and the right people. He teaches computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his global wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.