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Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Émile 1995

Last week it was a wine from my ten-years on tasting that I featured here, the 2000 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Bousselots from Robert Chevillon, this week it is the turn of a wine from my fifteen-year tasting. The Cuvée Frédéric Émile will be a familiar cuvée to many I am sure; despite being one of the top Rieslings from Alsace it remains - considering the quality of what can be found in the bottle - relatively affordable. Despite my Bordeaux and Loire obsessions I still buy from other regions, and this particular cuvée, from Trimbach, is one I often pop into my online shopping basket.

The origins of Cuvée Frédéric Émile are superficially obscure, as Trimbach have never engaged with the grand cru system to a level where the names of such vineyards might appear on the label. There is a little detail on this in my Trimbach profile, but - in essence - the Trimbach family see the system as inherently flawed by the generous boundaries of a number of the grands crus, which bear no relation to terroir or any other feature that might be regarded as relevant to the quality of the wines originating from the site.

And so the names of these vineyards are not to be found on the Trimbach labels, even when the fruit is sourced from the grandest sites. Cuvée Frédéric Émile is as good an example as any; this wine is routinely a blend of fruit from the Osterberg and Geisberg grands crus, both of which lie just to the north of Ribeauvillé (as shown below), where Trimbach are based. Some sources state that the wine originates solely from Osterberg but they are mistaken; the one and only case when this was true was in the 2001 vintage when two cuvées of Frédéric Émile were produced. The first was the usual blend from the two sites, the second a special cuvée sourced purely from Osterberg, and labelled as the Cuvée Frédéric Émile 375ème Anniversaire. There are of course also vendange tardive and grains nobles versions as well.

Ribeauvillé is blessed with more than Osterberg and Geisberg, however, as directly contiguous with these two sites is Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé, giving this town a total of three grands crus, as well as a number of interesting lieux-dits. These latter unclassified sites include Clos Ribeaupierre, until recently known as Clos du Schlossberg. Situated just to the west of the town, the vineyard was acquired by Jean-Louis Sipp in 1965 and replanted by Jean-Jacques Sipp, who replaced the field blend of Alsace varieties purely with Pinot Gris, planted on terraces, in 1993. To reflect the changed profile of the vineyard he also saw fit to change its name. One other clos worthy of mention is Clos du Zahnacker which sits within the upper slopes of grand cru Osterberg; still planted with a field blend, the vineyard is today exploited by the Cave de Ribeauvillé.

Back to Trimbach now, and the 1995 vintage of the Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Émile which featured in my recent 1995 fifteen-years on tasting. And it showed very well, I have to say, a testament to Trimbach's commitment to quality regardless of whether the label declares the wine's grand cru origins or not. In the glass it has a pale golden hue. A great nose, taking just a few minutes to open up, revealing rich petrolly aromas at first, then a blast of lime, then a more creamy sense of fruit, tropical, bright and sweet in character. This sense continues on the palate right at the start, showing a great texture, then a pure flesh through the middle, supple and rich but also well defined. Towards the end, it gets a little more savoury, showing a character full of impact and presence here. It is long, grippy, slightly bitter, with notes of orange zest. Most impressive of all, it has an amazingly pure and vivacious minerality on the palate, riding all over the acidity, both elements lifting and defining the wine, giving it a brilliant sappy-sour character, with lovely citrus fruits in the finish. This is wonderful, certainly my favourite taste of CFE for some time, and this is a wine still on the way up. 18+/20 (6/12/10)

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