There is little argument among wine professionals that Riesling is one of the greatest grapes in the world. Many think it has no equal, red or white. It can stamp the imprint of the soil in which the grapes are grown like no other. And no other country on Earth is as identified with this grape as much as Germany. But there is an area which comes close: Alsace.
Alsace is a 50-mile-long, very narrow stretch of vineyards in France, barely 10 miles west of the German border. At one time, it was part of Germany which is why the area shares many of the same names, customs, cuisine and wine. But while German Rieslings and Alsace Rieslings are among the greatest wines in the world, they could not be further apart in flavor. German Rieslings need a touch of sugar; Alsace Rieslings do not.
It all has to do with the weather. Alsace is much warmer, so the grapes get riper. And being on the slopes of the Vosges Mountains, the vineyards have the ideal habitat for attaining grape perfection. Cleebourg is a group of almost 200 vineyards, formed in 1946 to compete in a very splintered wine world. Their success has been extraordinary, and this selection is one of the reasons why.
Here is Riesling in one of its finest renditions. The word most used to describe this wine is "nervy," because in its greatest manifestation, it has a sense of urgency, with its explosive flavors and gripping acidity. Peach, apricot, green apple, spice and lemon peel are just the beginning, and the ending is, well, stunning.