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Details for Dopff au Moulin, Gewürztraminer

AppellationAlsace AOC
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Dopff au Moulin
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There are two obvious natural borders between northeast France and southwest Germany.  One is the north-south spine of the Vosges mountains; the other, running parallel 25 km to the east, is the River Rhine.  Between the two sits Alsace.
The rain shadow of the mountains make this one of the dryest and sunniest places in France, although its northern latitude keeps temperatures down.  The Alsace vineyard is long and thin, stretching for 120 km along the eastern slope of the Vosges, yet rarely more than a kilometre wide.
The placenames and surnames here are Germanic, and until fairly recently most locals spoke the Alsatian dialect of German as their first language.  The grape varieties are largely German too; this is the only part of France that grows Riesling, alongside Gewurztraminer and Sylvaner.  Even the varieties with French origins, the Pinots Noir, Gris and Blanc, are also common in Germany.
Yet its soul is French.  The surnames may be Germanic but the first names are all French, and apart from brief military occupations it has been politically French for the last 400 years.  The wine, too, was French in style: strong and dry, in contrast to the much lighter and sweeter wines from across the Rhine.  Even late harvest wines, called Vendange Tardive, were dry until about 30 years ago; the only sweet wines were the rare Sélection de Grains Nobles made from botrytised grapes.
But advances in viticulture and changes in climate mean that sugar levels are now often too high to ferment out to dryness.  Vendange Tardive wines are now all sweet, and a sizeable proportion of straight AOC Alsace wine is substantially off-dry.  Critics complain that their marvellous ability to pair with food has been compromised, especially as it is often impossible to tell from the label whether the wine is dry or not.
Ninety percent of Alsace wine is white, with Pinot Noir the only significant black grape.  The key white grapes are Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat, and these five are generally the only ones permitted in Alsace Grand Cru, the highest appellation.  Although not a Grand Cru grape, Pinot Blanc is also hugely important both as a dependably dry and food-friendly still wine and as the base for sparkling Crémant d’Alsace.

Dopff au Moulin

Dopff au Moulin claim to be the oldest producer in Alsace, founded in 1574 and still family-owned.  Pierre-Etienne Dopff is president of the company and his son Etienne-Arnaud is Directeur Général, representing the twelth and thirteenth generations of the Dopff family at the helm.
Along the way they pioneered Alsace’s bottle-fermented sparkling wine, Crémant, after 10th-generation Julien Dopff attended a demonstration of the Méthode Champenoise at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.  This inspired him to spend two years working in Épernay to learn the intricacies of the process before introducing it at home.  Today Crémant d’Alsace accounts for about half of the company’s production.  Julien was also responsible for introducing the distinctive tall bottle now used for all Alsace’s still wines.
Based in the medieval town of Riquewihr, the company owns 70 hectares of prime vineyards but additionally has longstanding contracts with more than 600 small growers across Alsace.

about this wine About this wine

Some grape varieties polarize opinions; Gewürztraminer is certainly one of them.  Its astonishing rose petal and lychee perfume makes it one of the easiest grapes to recognise, but it isn’t easy to get right and can very easily go over the top.
Alsace has exactly the right climate for it: cool but dry and sunny, with long warm autumns and cold nights to allow it to ripen fully while retaining sufficient freshness.  It’s perhaps the quintessential Alsace grape: Riesling may be king here but lots of other places produce great Rieslings; Alsace has Gewurz almost to itself and produces all the most famed examples.
This one is from from one of the best-known Alsace producers, Dopff au Moulin, who have been based in Riquewihr in the heart of the region for centuries.  The lozenge-shaped label indicates that this wine is produced from bought-in grapes rather than from Dopff’s own vineyards.  This is common practice in Alsace, and Dopff have long-term contracts with around 600 small growers who supply grapes.
Not all of them grow Gewurz, but there are still more than 160 who have contributed to this wine.  2015 was a warm vintage producing rich wines, which is not always a good thing for Gewurz with its tendency to high alcohol and low acidity.  However, the alcohol level here is 13.5% (moderate for Gewurz) and the total acidity, while lowish in absolute terms at 5.2 g/litre, is good for this grape.  As is standard for Alsace whites, this wine has not undergone the second, malolactic fermentation which would soften the acids.
Most Gewurz is made sweet, or at least off-dry.  This one has just 8 g/litre of residual sugar, which is only just above the 5 g/l level normally regarded as fully dry (e.g., Brut champagne).  All wines have a couple of grams of residual sugar because some of the grape sugars are not fermentable by yeasts.  For Alsace Gewurz this is a decidedly dry wine.

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