Sunday, March 2, 2008

Muscat Cuvee Engel, Domaine Fernand Engel, 2005

If you've ever made your way along the wine route through the storybook Medieval villages of Alsace, you've undoubtedly visited Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg, the old castle atop the big hill. It's a major tourist destination. The grapes for this wine come from vineyards right at the foot of this hill, tended for three generations by the Engel family. Grapes are hand-picked and traditional methods of wine-making are used with the juice resting on the lees long enough to give a round, full mouthfeel.

Dry Muscat d'Alsace is almost too pretty. Those who smell the sweet perfume think they're getting a sweet wine. While this Cuvee Engel is finished dry, the flavors are so overwhelmingly beautiful that it's easy to overlook all of the depth and complexity it offers.

From the first sniff, the Cuvee Engel charms with spring flowers, peaches, pears, lime zest, rose petal. This wine would be easy to mistake for a Gewurztraminer. It's medium bodied on the palate but intense and concentrated with the ripe fruit and zesty citrus elements fighting for your attention. It has a very long and complex after taste. With avocado salad and split pea/wild rice soup, it was an ideal accompaniment. But it would also be good for sipping on its own.

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