2011 Riesling Herrenweg: Domaine Ehrhart

At the start of the New Year, Pete vowed to drink more Alsatian wine – I think he’s on to something there! Food flexible with many affordable choices, Alsatian wines are just so compatible to the way food-conscious, wine-drinking people eat in the US; it’s a wonder more people don’t clamber for them. Admittedly, there are a few hurdles Alsatian wines must overcome marketing-wise, but if you’re in a hurry to reach for a bottle of wine to bring to a dinner party and know nothing about the menu, taking along a dry Alsatian Riesling is a safe bet. The 2011 Riesling Herrenweg from Domaine Ehrhart is distinctive and fresh while still being an open canvas in culinary terms. What wouldn’t the ’11 Riesling Herrenweg match up well with?  The last time I sampled it, my tasting notes ended with “incredibly drinkable”. Now, I concede that this is an overused and vague term, so let me clarify this further.  “Incredibly drinkable” means to me that it has hit a bliss point where acidity and sweetness combine perfectly to demand another taste. The Ehrharts know that choosing an Alsatian wine can be tricky when it comes to sweetness levels, as there are no designations like the Germans use to help consumers easily navigate with terms like Kabinett or Auslese. Starting with the ’11 vintage, the Ehrharts have devised a clever tool located on their back labels. There is a linear scale from 1-10, 1 being dry and 9 being sweet, with a wine glass placed at the point at which they feel the perception of sweetness is matched. The 2011 Riesling Herrenweg is at 2, so it is not bone-searingly dry, but it is nevertheless dry. I think this scale should be implemented more widely in Alsace- super handy!


I had the pleasure of meeting Corinne and Philippe Ehrhart at the end of January. They came to SF to visit with The Wine House and to meet with new and old supporters around the Bay. They are a lovely couple that, despite their obvious jet lag, were excited to share their passion for their domaine, which began farming organically over two generations ago and is now officially certified organic. For the Ehrhart’s, organic farming is not some new zealous pursuit, it’s simply how they’ve always farmed and will continue to farm. It was a memorable experience to taste through the range of wines, from the creamy Cremant to the heady Grand Crus, with Corinne and Philippe guiding us along. Their understated elegance shone through to their wines. I bemoaned their short stay as I thought back to Pete and Chris’ good fortune of having Corinne’s Choucroute while in Alsace a few years back…would it be rude to ask a visiting vigneron to prepare dinner? You can’t stop a girl from dreaming.Not exactly Choucroute, but I’m guessing a large percentage of the population has had their fair share of Corned Beef and Cabbage this past weekend. I won’t pass up an opportunity to eat Corned Beef and Cabbage and neither will I pass up an opportunity to drink with it, Riesling. A richer, fuller-bodied Riesling like the 2011 Riesling Herrenweg is what I prefer. If you’re reading this post-St. Paddy’s Day and the leftovers are all gone, here’s another way to go: Pad Thai. Oh, yes, so very tasty! 
I won’t be whooping it up this St. Patrick’s Day weekend, though I’m wearing the green. That nasty cold has come to visit chez Balistreri and, as with many un-welcomed guests, won’t go away. Knock on wood, to date I’ve been spared. I attribute my health to that cherished glass of wine post-bedtime reading/lights out time. It is my shortcut to a meditative state of mind. Ah the restorative nature of wine, amen. —Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Alsace, Anya Balistreri, Riesling

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