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Tasting with Trimbach

Great Western Wine recently hosted a sell-out evening with Julien Trimbach at the Allium restaurant. Angela Mount went along to report...

 

A tasting of Trimbach wines is not a bad way to spend an evening at the best of times, but teemed with not only some rare gems from old vintages, but also the exquisite cuisine of new Allium Restaurant chef, Rupert Taylor, it became a must do event in Bath’s social calendar.

Trimbach is one of the most revered wine producers in Alsace.  Established in 1626, and with the young and urbane Julien Trimbach, the 13th generation of the family, hosting this spectacular evening, guests, many of whom have followed and enjoyed Trimbach wines for years, were in for a treat.

Alsace, nestled in the foothills of the Vosges mountains, forms a long, narrow strip between northern France and Germany, and has a chequered history, having changed nationality several times between the two countries over the centuries and wars.  Trimbach are based in Ribeauville, a chocolate-box pretty town, with characteristic timber-fronted houses and steep flat clay tile roofs, in the heart of the vineyard region.  Using mainly Germanic grape varieties, Alsace has created a worldwide reputation for extraordinary wines with Riesling at its heart, but in a totally unique way.

It’s always fun to break the rules; instead of a customary glass of fizz on arrival, we were greeted with a chilled Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve 2015, which surprised some and delighted many.  Pale ruby red in colour, fresh, bright and lively, this gentle, light red was packed with crunchy pomegranate and raspberry fruit, with a wild herb edge.  With its northern location, Alsace doesn’t produce much red wine, but the cool climate-loving Pinot Noir does perform well here, albeit producing far lighter styles than neighbouring and more southernly Burgundy.  Spot on with Chef Taylor’s irresistible canapes of tomato and smoked aubergine, sumptuous foie gras mousse spiced up with saffron and pink peppercorns, together with a tangy citrus cured morsel of salmon with ponzu jelly.

Onto dinner; first up was a beautifully presented plate of plump, caramelised and pan-fried scallops, meltingly tender, with their luxurious, sweet texture; these were nestled on an intense creamy puree of cauliflower, and served alongside perfectly roasted and singed cauliflower florets, and a bright, tangy verjus to balance. Tom King, Great Western Wine’s Fine Wine Manager had worked closely with Chef Taylor to showcase the very best of Trimbach’s wines, and cleverly picked a grape variety, whose ripeness and more voluptuous style, would marry the indulgence and sweetness of the starter. Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2014 combined aromas of tuberoses and nutmeg, with a deliciously fresh, dry palate, with vibrant citrus to the fore, tinged with a hint of acacia honey.  This was served alongside Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personelle 2013, a masterpiece in the balance of richness and acidity, opulent and intense.

The main event was inevitably going to be Riesling, accounting for over 50% of Trimbach’s production.  As Julien told us “Riesling is in our blood, it’s our heritage”. We were treated to a hedonistic quartet of Rieslings, with over 30 years between the youngest and oldest. Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2014 is but a baby, grown on the chalky, quartz and sandstone Gres des Vosges stone.  2014 was a fabulous vintage in Alsace and this little gem showed its promise, all nervy and fresh with candied lemon peel aromas and zippy acidity. If you have of this vintage, snuggle it up, and don’t touch till it’s at least a toddler, as it will blossom into a beautiful teenager and beyond.

Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2008 is Trimbach’s signature wine, produced from two grand crus vineyards, with vines averaging 45 years in age. This is an extraordinary wine from a vintage which produced wines of purity and precision.  This wine, despite its 9 years, is still in its youthful, nervy thoroughbred stage.  Intense, rich, creamy and incredibly complex, it has a gorgeous richness of fruit, interwoven with grapefruit peel, Manuka honey and a smattering of citrusy sumac.

Matching a main course that isn’t fish, to white wines isn’t always easy, but Rupert Taylor and his brigade stepped up to the mark with a fillet of Rose Veal, glisteningly pink, tender and delicate, served with a creamy sweet langoustine puree, earthily pungent girolles mushrooms and tangy choucroute. A wealth of flavours on a plate, whose different textures and balance of flavours worked seamlessly with the wine.

Still on Riesling, wizard Tom King then waved his magic wand and brought out two wines from the cellar collection – wines that have been slumbering in the cellars for years, and are now starting to emerge from their chrysalis into rare and stunningly beautiful butterflies.  Riesling Clos Sainte Hune 2008 is Trimbach’s flagship wine, produced on limestone soils, from a single vineyard, and only in the very best of years. As Julien stated ‘if Riesling is in our blood, Sainte Hune is in our heart’. This wine is extraordinary – racy, nervy, taut as a tightly-wound violin string, bursting with a myriad flavours of marmalade, lime and those typical petrolly characteristics, all bound up with outstanding purity and minerality – if you have some, it’s another toddler to leave to develop a while longer.

Proving the point, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Alsace, and in particular Trimbach makes wines that can last decades, Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile Vendange Tardive 1983, a 34 year old, very rare wine, produced in tiny quantities, from botrytised grapes, which are very rare from this vineyard – the epitome of elegance, redolent of white flowers, roses, rosehips and honey; rich, intense, multi-layered, with marvellous depth – mature, but still with trademark steely acidity coursing through its veins. A rare treat.

How to follow such a majestic wine?  Chef Taylor finished off the evening with a Peach Bavarois, wobbling in its creamy unctuousness, accompanied by a tangy, perfectly spiced Schezuan pepper and bay leaf ice cream.  Picking up on the delicate, floral notes in the dessert, our final wine was Gewurztraminer Selection des Grains Nobles ‘Hors Choix’ 2007, amber in colour and steeped with rich nectarine, honey and candied fruit flavours – exotic, decadent and supremely balanced.

Four hundred years on, Trimbach is still proving why its iconic wines are revered all over the world.

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