Since the Renaissance, wine making has thrived throughout the France’s Alsace particularly in the Village of Riquewihr. Its moniker “Pearl of the Alsace” celebrates a fabled wine making heritage as well as the village’s layout and overall appearance that hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages. Founder Rene Dopff joined fortunes with the widowed Madame Irion in 1945 establishing Dopff & Irion. Dopff then took over the historic Chateau de Riquewihr built in 1549 and originally owned by the Princes of Wurtemberg who ruled over the city and region for 5 centuries.
Revolutionary at the time, Dopff’s wine making approach focused on terroir rather specific varietals by dividing the Château’s 68 vineyard acres into 4 distinct estates naming them Les Murailles, Les Sorcières, Les Maquisards, and Les Amandiers. Each estate to this day focuses on a single grape variety best suited to its micro terroir made possible due to the differing soil types and climates situated within close proximity to each other.
Soon Dopff supplied wines to high profile clients like the Palais de l’Elysée and the French President’s residence. Now you too can taste the Alsace’s finest starting with these bottles:
Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé – Entire clusters of Pinot-Noir grapes are conveyored on a belt to the press keeping berries intact. The must is kept at low temperatures and matured in a vat for nearly 6 months before bottling. A blend of sugar and yeasts (liqueur de tirage) is added to provoke a second bottle fermentation. Storing the Cremant horizontally on laths 12-15 months before disgorging the sweet liqueur eliminates yeast deposits showcasing its dry elegant style. Like Champagne, this Cremant isn’t derived from any particular vintage which allows blending from different years ensuring consistent flavor profiles and quality.
Pink in the glass with tinges of orange, a bouquet full of red berry fruit permeates the nose. Restrained fruit sugars make for a more refined tasting experience of even limestone effervescence yielding a bite of cranberry with complex citrus fruitiness on the palate complemented by sweet strawberry and a creamy mouth feel. As a refined aperitif or cocktail wine, ideal serving temperature is between 45-46°F but can be appreciated up to 50°F.
Dopff & Irion Cuvée René Dopff Pinot Blanc 2016 – Made from 50% Pinot Blanc and 50% Pinot Auxerrois, grapes are entirely handpicked and gently extracted via low pressure pressing at controlled temperatures. Wine is matured on fine lees for 4 months, filtered, and stored in stainless steel vats for several months before bottling.
You get a luminous pure gold hue with crisp sweet apple and honey dew melon nectar notes. A refreshing mouth feel light on the chaulkiness and well balanced acidity on the palate is delivered by fine, light bubbles. Bracing minerality quickly recedes to honey, spicy cardamom-pepper, and citrus fruit for an ebullient finish. Prime pairing opportunities include curry based dishes, grilled chicken, fish, and goat cheeses.
Dopff & Irion Crustacés 2015 – Produced with handpicked 80% Sylvana and 20% Pinot Blanc grapes grown in limestone clay soil by Dopff & Irion’s 300 selected vine-growers. Immediate pressing and a 6 month maturation in tanks before bottling ensures freshness throughout the tasting experience.
Pure and crisp on the nose, and golden in appearance, a bright minerality enlivens the palate with light, spicy fruit well balanced with zing and sweetness. Pairing with lobster unlocks the nutty characteristics enlivening and broadening the flavor profile of this crustacean while still carrying fruity notes into the finish.
Photos courtesy of Dopff & Irion & Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting.