Alsatian Pinot Noirs are gaining ground

At L’Epicurieux, Cannes wine bar, the wine list served by the glass at the end of July is enough to leave holidaymakers speechless: the most expensive of all (€ 10 a glass) is a pinot noir from Alsace, 2016 vintage from the Jean Huttard estate. And it sells well. Unthinkable just a few years ago.

While it only represents 10% of Alsatian wine production, red now charms the most demanding palates and is making a place for itself on fine tables. A consequence of global warming, which allows more ripe grapes, but also the work of winegrowers who have dared to believe in its potential.

Notes of graphite and tuberose

At the other end of France, glued to the front door of the Domaine Muré, a sheet of paper displays precisely the color. It details the cuvées offered by Véronique and Thomas Muré. The brother and sister chose to mention their red wines at the top of the list. Because, even if the estate, based in Rouffach, south of Colmar, offers Rieslings recognized for their qualities, it is their Pinots Noirs that catch the eye.

“My father tried to build the identity of an Alsatian red, sometimes to the extreme, with aging in new wood barrels. »Véronique Muré

From the cellar window, you can see an emblematic steep slope, the Clos Saint-Landelin. The Murés make 2,500 bottles of Pinot Noir. This ample and racy wine, with notes of graphite and tuberose, is sold only on allocation: demand is too high. “Fifteen years ago, it had to be offered to customers, remembers Véronique Muré. Today some only come for that. »

The shift began in 1996: “My father tried to build the identity of an Alsatian red, sometimes to the extreme, with aging in new wood barrels. It took ten years to find the signature, more on finesse than on power. » Since then, the family has pulled out rows of Gewurztraminer to plant black grapes and, in one generation, its Pinot area has doubled, reaching 20% ​​of the estate’s vines.

“We weren’t equipped to produce red wine. (…) We even used a concrete mixer to mix the musts! I admit it, I made all the mistakes. »Henri Buecher

Same evolution for the Paul Buecher estate, located in Wettolsheim, on the outskirts of Colmar. From the height of his 68 years and almost 50 vintages vinified, Henri Buecher remembers a time when the Alsatians played “Sorcerer’s apprentices” with this grape variety. “We weren’t equipped to produce red wine. We obtained rosés, so we heated the wine to extract the color to the detriment of the aromas. We even used a concrete mixer to mix the musts! I admit it, I made all the mistakes ”, laughs the winegrower in a checkered shirt and a jovial demeanor.

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