Paul Blanck at the 2015 Alsace wine day

Grand Rue in Kientzheim, the street where Paul Blanck is located (but not in the picture). Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Ralph Hammann, 2014).

Paul Blanck, which can be found in the Kientzheim village, was one of the Alsace producers I tasted at the Alsace wine day in Stockholm in the end of January. On his extensive Alsace wine site, Per Warfvinge has a producer profile of Paul Blanck where he mentions Blanck as one of Alsace’s two global ambassadors. (I then assume that the other has a name that starts with an H.) I visited them on location in 2008 and definitely agree with what Per W. writes about visitors being received in at pleasant and generous way.

Paul Blanck has 36 hectares (89 acres) of vineyards, of which 26% in grand cru sites and 15% in other vineyard sites with “a good name”. The annual production is about 220 000 bottles.

They have vineyard in the five grand cru vineyards Furstentum (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir), Mambourg (Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris), Schlossberg (Riesling and Pinot Gris), Sommerberg (Riesling), and Winneck-Schlossberg (Riesling and Pinot Gris). Furstentum, that yields powerful wines, is something of a signature vineyard of Paul Blanck.

Vineyard-designated wines are also produced from the vineyards Altenbourg (Gewurztraminer and Muscat), Patergarten (Riesling and Pinot Gris), and Rosenbourg (Riesling and Pinot Gris).

Since 1985, Paul Blanck is led by the two cousins Frédéric Blanck and Philippe Blanck. The Paul Blanck wines are of high quality without taking of too much in price, and the wine style is fruity with good concentration.

Residual sweetness in Paul Blanck wines – and a scale 1-10 with an own interpretation

There are sometimes some residual sweetness in the wines of Paul Blancks, but e.g. Riesling is often fairly dry. This means that I don’t perceive Paul Blanck as one of of the “sweetest” among the fruity Alsace producers.

Paul Blanck uses a scale 1-10 to indicate the impression of sweetness in their wines, and this is clearly indciated for each wine on their website, so it is possible to “do some recon” before buying. I’m Always positive to Alsace producers indicating this for their wines, but for the region as a whole, I would had preferred one and the same scale, be it 1-5, 1-9, or 1-10, which are the different versions I recall having found.

I hadn’t noted that Paul Blanck used this scale when I tasted, so I wrote down my personal impression using the scale 1-9, which I’ve tried to use in a reasonably consistent way for all producers. Checking after the tasting, I was rather surprised when I noted how highly on the scale 1-10 they had rated wines that I considered to be dry or almost dry! However, there is much to indicate that they apply their scale 1-10 in a different way than other producers use the scale 1-9, and that they let the number be 2, 3 or 4 for wines that are dry or almost dry, and that would reasonably had ended up as 1 or 2 on the scale 1-9, as it is commonly applied.

Why do I make this claim? Well, I checked out how they have rated some wines that tend to be among the driest for many producers, their entry level Riesling and their Pinot Noirs. There are 1-10 numbers for many vintages of these wines, but unfortunately no analytical data with actual residual sugar content. Their entry level Riesling, vintages 2008-2014, has consistently been scored 2/10 or 3/10, and this is a wine which has come across as dry when I have tasted it. Their two Pinot Noirs tell an even clearer story, since they’ve almost always been scored 3/10 (excepting one 2/10 and one 5/10)! Red wines are almost always produced dry. Browsing somewhat unsystematically at their website didn’t uncover a single wine they had scored 1/10.

My conclusion is that 1/10 at Paul Blanck means “horribly dry” and is not used, 2/10 means dry, 3/10 means dry (at least for Riesling and reds) or almost dry, and 4/10 means rather dry (perhaps off-dry for those that are picky about residual sugar). Only from about 5/10 are they more seriously off-dry. 5/10 at Blanck should correspond to about 3 on the scale 1-9 the way I have used it.

In summary: many of Paul Blanck’s wines do have some residual sweetness, but some are dry, and the wines are drier than you can be led to believe by their own descriptions! Paul Blanck 20150126

Wines tasted

2010 Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes
Sweetness according to Paul Blanck 3/10.

Nose with honey, ripe apples and some fried apples, slighly smoky and slightly developed notes. Palate with citrus, high acidity, good concentration, some melon fruit, and a fruity aftertaste. Very pleasant, 88-89 p.

Very nice to see an Auxerrois called Auxerrois, since they are usually labelled Pinot Blanc, but unfortunately that producers have to bend the appellation rules to indicate the actual contents of the bottles. (For some strange reason, it is allowed to blend Pinot Blanc and the spicier Auxerrois in free proportions, including 0% Pinot Blanc, and call the blend Pinot Blanc. In total, there is more Auxerrois than Pinot Blanc in the Alsatian vineyards, but that’s not reflected on the labels.) This is also one of the best varietal Auxerrois wine I’ve tated, but the vintage surely plays a part here – 2010 is really an excellent vintage!

2013 Riesling Classique
Sweetness according to Paul Blanck 2/10 Fruity nose with peach.

Dry palate with a lot of citrus, some peach, mineral, and quite a bit of grapefruit – also in the aftertaste. Firm, young, 87-88(+) p.

2012 Riesling Patergarten
Sweetness 4/10

Nose with peach, pronounced stony minerality, and a very light petroleum note. Almost dry palate with a lot of citrus, good concentration, high acidity and mineral. Rather young, 88-89 p

2013 Pinot Gris Classique
Sweetness 4/10

Nose with ripe fruit, apple, pear, some smoke and spice notes. Rather dry palate (my estimation 2-3 on the scale 1-9), good concentration, fruit, good acidity, some spice notes, and a fruity aftertaste. Foody, 88 p.

2013 Gewurztraminer Classique
Sweetness 4/10

Nose with perfum and lychee notes, but not too “explosive” for a young Gewurztraminer, gives a pleasant impression. Palate with some residual sugar (my estimation 2-3 on the scale 1-9), medium acidity, fruity, good concentration, and a fresh aftertaste. 88 p

2008 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg
Sweetness 5/10

The nose is perfumed in a restrained way with mint notes, honey, and some tropical fruit. The palate is rather dry (my impression 2? on the scale 1-9) with good concentration, mint, spice notes, some tropical fruit, and some heather honey. An elegant Gewurz style, 89-90 p.

2011 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg
Sweetness 3/10

Nose with peach and ripe but elegant style, and a stony minerality. The palate is rather dry (my estimation 2 on the scale 1-9) with honey, peach, powerful concentration, mineral, and good acidity. The aftertaste is dry with mineral but still fruity. 91-92 p

2008 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Winneck Schlossberg
Sweetness 5/10

Nose with yellow apples including some old winter apples, and some honey. The palate is almost dry (my estimation 2? on the scale 1-9), a lot of mineral, mint, citrus, rather high acidity, and spice notes with grapefruit. Rather odd taste profile but pleasant, 89 p.

2008 Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Furstentum Vieilles Vignes
Sweetness 8/10

Nose with honey, spice notes, aromatic oil, and discrete developed notes. Rather dry on the palate (my estimation 2-3 on the scale 1-9 – extremely different from the figure above) with honey, powerful concentration, spices, medium acidity, some tropical fruit, and some fried apple. Comes across as rather ready in its development, 91 p.

2008 Pinot Gris Altenbourg Vendange Tardive
Sweetness 7/10

Nose with pear, discrete green notes, and some tropical notes. The palate is sweet (regular VT sweetness) with pear, good concentration, good acidity, and some spices. 89-90 p

2007 Riesling Grand Cru Furstentum Sélection des Grains Nobles
Sweetness 8/10

Nose with botrytis, spice notes, dried fruit, mineral and honey – perhaps heather honey? The palate shows great concentration and typical SGN sweetness (in German terms BA(+) but not TBA sweetness) with dried yellow fruit, some spice notes, high acidity, citrus, honey, and a fresh aftertaste. Quite impressive! 93 p.

Bonus note

An additional Paul Blanck wine recetly showed up at a dinner at a friend (actually bought when we visited in 2008), and was served blind:

2004 Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg

Golden colour. Nose with ripe yellow fruit, honey, some dried fruit, hints of mineral, some petroleum and other notes of maturity. The palate is clearly off-dry (but probably a little under modern Spätlese sweetness, say, about 4 on the scale 1-9) with yellow apples, rather good acidity (medium+), a light spicy notes, and a light alcoholic feeling that indicates that indicates that it is not German. Fully developed but can take more cellaring, 90 p.

My guess was an Alsace Riesling from the end of the 1990s, possibly a Vendange Tardive. I was a little surprised that the residual sweetness was so high when it turned out to be a Paul Blanck, both because I had the (in my impression) mostly dry Riesling wines from this tasting in my mind, and because I perceive 2004 to be a rather acid-driven and not excessively ripe vintage. On the other hand, Sommerberg is a steep and sun-exposed site. Swedish version

This entry was posted in Alsace, Auxerrois, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling. Bookmark the permalink.

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