This is not the 1978 Trimbach Close Ste. Hune Riesling, which is now selling for upwards of $650 a bottle--if you can find it. Nor is it the Trimbach Frederic Emile, another highly acclaimed Riesling. This is the regular Alsace Riesling, which the estate recommends drinking within the first five years. I am probably the only person in the world who has kept this wine for so long, but I swear that it was not a mistake.
I remember buying a case of this Riesling from Pop's in New York City and having it shipped to Michigan for a grand total of about $40. I had more than my share of enjoyment when the wine was young and vibrant. But as often happens with me, the last bottle gets saved and then ignored and forgotten. When my son-in-law got interested in Riesling, I thought "ah ha!" And I was right. He and my son enjoyed it as much as I did.
When first poured, the wine is bright medium gold but within 10 minutes of being exposed to air it turns to an equally bright but deep old gold. That is really the only sign of maturity, though, for this 36-year-old white wine. The bouquet is somewhat understated for a wine that has been in the bottle for this long, but it is quite attractive: apricots, honey, almonds and a hint of flowers. On the palate, there is all that and more. Alsace Riesling at its best--lively acidity with a decidedly dry finish.
I wouldn't pay $650 for it, but the quality of this low-end Trimbach Riesling tells me that the Clos Ste Hune is by no means over-priced. It is clearly one of top wines in the world. What's even better is that the current vintage of this simple Alsace Riesling from Trimbach is available in shops for $15 to $20 a bottle. Trimbach has been making wines since 1626, and I would not expect any major change in quality or style in the next hundred years or so. As the Reverse Wine Snob puts it, Trimbach Riesling, at under $20 a bottle, is a "bulk buy."