Paul Blanck
Visiting France's Alsace wine region, part 1

Domaine Paul Blanck
32 Grand Rue 68240 Kientzheim, France
Tel: +33 3 89 78 23 56
Website: www.blanck-alsace.com 


The village of Kientzheim

This was my first taste of Alsace, a region whose wines I have admired for some time, but which I'd never got round to visiting. First stop was the impossibly pretty village of Kinetzheim, to visit Domaine Paul Blanck. 


Philippe Blanck

Philippe Blanck has 35 hectares of vines, from which he makes 200 000 bottles annually, of which 80% are exported. The vineyard holdings are Altenbourg, Grafreben, Patergarten and Rosenbourg, and the Grands Crus Schlossberg, Furstentum, Mambourg, Sommerberg and Wineck-Schlossberg. From these vineyards some 40 wines are made each vintage.

90% of Blanck's holdings are farmed organically. The organic process was started here in 1988/89, after encouragement from UK importer Simon Loftus of Adnams. 'I love the English market,' says Philippe, 'because it opened up our eyes. In the late 1980s we were looking to find our way.' 

Blanck dropped the large wood casks for most wines and moved to stainless steel, and began doing some maceration on skins. In 2001 they started using screwcaps for some of their wines. This followed a blind tasting comparing cork, plastic corks and screwcap, with Frédéric Blanck (cousin of Philippe) who makes the wines. Now 60% of the production is under screwcap.

We head out of the village towards the vineyards. Roughly in a straight line from where we are standing is the Vosges fault. The result is that to the left the soils are granitic, and best suited to Riesling. To the left, the soils are more clay-based, and best for the aromatic varieties Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.

The village is at 220 metres. The top of the hill facing us, the Schlossberg, reaches almost 500 m, while just along from this the Altenbourg reaches 420 m.

We then had a fabulous tasting in the vineyard, which is actually a really good place to taste when the weather is right. On this day, with comfortable temperatures in the mid-20s and a gentle breeze, it was perfect.

This was followed by lunch at the winery, outside on trestle tables with some nice older wines. It was a 'picnic' open day for many of the Vignerons Independents around France, who welcomed consumers to come and eat with them. 

THE WINES 

Paul Blanck Muscat d'Alsace 2010 Alsace, France
Less than 1% of Alsace production is Muscat. Fresh, precise, grapey and taut with nice crisp fruit. Precise and pithy. Nice. 87/100

Paul Blanck Chasselas 2011 Alsace, France
Lovely depth here: dense and pithy with nice melon and herb characters as well as some pepper. 89/100

Paul Blanck Rosenberg Riesling 2009 Alsace, France
Lively, mineral, pithy and citrussy. Bright, dry and lemony with lively mineral notes. This spends 3 months fermenting in oak and then 9 months on lees in oak. 91/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Patergarten 2009 Alsace, France
Gravel soils, which cause the grapes to ripen fast.Tight, limey and crisp but with some nice rounded texture. Intense, fresh and rounded with ripe pear notes, good texture and some spiciness. 90/100

Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc 2010 Alsace, France
Fruity, lively and fresh with apple, herbs, pears. Nice rounded fruit here with a bit of sweetness. 87/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg Grand Cru 2008 Alsace, France
Complex, taut and mineral with some spice, apricot (10% botrytis), lime and pear. A hint of tangerine, and lovely tingling acidity. Great complexity and balance. 93/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg 1987 Alsace, France
Smells sweet with lovely apricot, melon, pear and lemon notes. But it's dry and mineral on the palate with lively citrus and herb notes. Long, mineral and fine with rich texture and a pithy finish. A lovely wine. 95/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Furstentum Grand Cru 2005 Alsace, France
Limestone soils. A cold vintage with low yields (25-30 hl/ha); this has a bit of botrytis and 12 g/l sugar. Ripe, honeyed, pithy, citrussy nose. The palate is broad, rich and mineral with nice depth and spiciness. Intense, powerful and rich with some melon and tangerine notes. 92/100

Paul Blanck Pinot Gris Furstentum Grand Cru 2005 Alsace, France
Wonderfully grapey, rich and intense with some melon fruit. Sweetly rounded. The palate is rich textured and just off-dry with sweet melon and grape characters. Some mineral and spice, too. 93/100

Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer Vieilles Vignes Furstentum Grand Cru 2007 Alsace, France
From 50-70 year old vines. Wonderfully aromatic with notes of melon and herb, grape and lychee. Very nicely balanced. The palate is fresh and textured with beautifully balanced rose petal and lychee flavours. Just a bit of sweetness with a strongly mineral, spicy finish. 94/100

Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Grand Cru 2007 Alsace, France
Aromatic and bold with lychee, melon, spice and grape notes. Thick textured, rich and bold (apparently the clay soils here give the fat), with satsuma and melon flavours. 92/100

Paul Blanck Gewurztraminer Mambourg Grand Cru 2007 Alsace, France
From a sunny site with marl soils. Beautifully aromatic and really fresh with grape, pepper and lychee flavours. Really weighty with subtle nuttiness. Serious stuff. 93/100

Paul Blanck Pinot d’Alsace 1989 Alsace, France
Lovely ripe, rounded peach, pear, apricot and tangerine notes. Lovely sweet, rounded fruit. 93/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Furstentum Vieilles Vignes 1985 Alsace, France
Powerful and aromatic with herbs, minerals, apricot, melon and nuts, as well as some lanolin. Rounded, mineral palate with citrus and apricot, as well as some toast and nice acidity. 93/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg 1998 Alsace, France
Amazing: lovely grapefruit and tangerine notes. Powerful, textured and intense with sweet fruit, a lively personality and hints of cheese. Fine, mineral finish. 94/100

Paul Blanck Riesling Rosenbourg 2005 Alsace, France
Attractive, cabbagey, grapey, melony nose with some citrus. Lovely tangerine notes as well as some pithy character. Reductive. 90/100

Paul Blanck Gewürztraminer Furstentum SGN 1994 Alsace, France
Lively and powerful with melon, peach, nuts, apricot and tangerine. Rich, concentrated and intense with marmalade and nut notes as well as a hint of oxidation. 93/100  

See a short film of the visit, including some stunning vineyard scenery:

See also: pictures from the vineyards of Alsace, part 1, Paul Blanck

VISITING ALSACE
Part 1, Paul Blanck
Part 2, Clement Klur
Part 3, Schlumberger
Part 4, Zind Humbrecht
Part 5, Albert Boxler
Part 6, Dirler-Cadé
Part 7, Josmeyer

Wines tasted 06/12  
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