2010 Domaine Albert Boxler Alsace

2010 Domaine Albert Boxler Alsace
When Simon set up Atlas back in 2011, he was not sure that he would ever be in a position to buy Jean’s wines again, but someone has taken their eyes off the ball and here we are offering the exceptionally pure 2010s. 

Selling the wines of Alsace far from easy. Let’s be honest – most people are confused by the region and the labelling; the Germanic association, complicated names,  numerous grape varieties, the proliferation of Grand Cru…the list goes on. But if you can get to grips with it, Alsace is immensely rewarding. As this is not a fashionable region, the quality-to-price ratio is favourable.

I have been a convert for a long time, ever since I first visited the region and tasted some great Riesling from Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine Weinbach or Trimbach.  The Grand Cru of Alsace can age for decades. We recently tasted some very youthful Grand Crus from the late 1980s which are still fresh and elegant but with an intriguing honeyed complexity and sublime texture that only comes with bottle age. As a general rule, we recommend drinking the entry level, varietal wines now and for up to seven years and, for the Grand Cru they can be consumed now but could age for up to 20 years, but it should be stressed that patient cellarage is an option, not a prerequisite.

I first met Jean Boxler by chance some seven or eight years ago. Jean runs a 13 hectare estate in Niedermorschwihr, just to the west of Colmar, and is the grandson of Albert Boxler after whom this cracking domaine is named. Jean has a handful of impressive vineyards including the famous Brand Grand Cru, near Turckheim, which is known for its steep granitic slopes that permit easily won ripeness. Jean is as meticulous a vigneron as I have met and this clearly contributes to the outstanding quality of his wines. What impressed me most from the outset is the quality of the ‘generics’. These are the estate’s entry level wines and yet I would taste them alongside Grand Cru from other domaines without reservation. That is something of a rare feat in Alsace, where some estates seem happy to churn out diffuse, characterless examples which offer nothing of the variety from which they are made. Often generic Alsace is more miss than hit.

When we set up Atlas, I was not sure that I would ever be in a position to buy Jean’s wines again, but someone has taken their eyes off the ball and here we are offering the exceptionally pure 2010s. The cooler conditions early in the summer this vintage kept the yields down and led to fresh, elegant styles with good prospects for cellarage. I find the wines preferable to the richer 2009s as 2010 is a more classically structured vintage; pure, refined and age worthy.

The Generics

Domaine Albert Boxler, Riesling 2010
£145 per twelve bottles in bond

A perfect illustration of Jean’s attention to quality. This wine is from the Sommerberg Grand Cru, but Jean declassifies it, declaring that the 15 year old vines are not quite old enough for his Grand Cru cuvée. The stony soils of Sommerberg give excellent structure and good fruit intensity. A refreshing, dry Riesling which shows fine concentration and purity for its level, with notes of lime, apple, all gently honeyed in character and backed by a zesty, vibrant acidity. Drinking superbly now or you could opt to keep it up until 2018 at which point it will have developed a toasty, spicy complexity. 

Domaine Albert Boxler, Gewurztraminer Réserve 2010
£85 per six bottles in bond

From the chalky soils of Heimbourg vineyard and vines aged between 15 and 45 years. Typical of Gewurztraminer, this has floral aromas, hints of lychee and a touch of spice. The palate shows fine volume of the level, off-dry in style with ample richness, which is offset by the fresh acidity that so characteristic of 2010 chez Boxler. This results in a slightly drier impression than you might be led to expect. A fascinating wine to partner with food or enjoy on its own. This is drinking well now and will hold for four to five years.

Domaine Albert Boxler, Pinot Gris Réserve 2010
£170 per twelve bottles in bond

Just as with the Riesling, the Pinot Gris is partly declassified from Grand Cru vineyards. This is a dry wine but with a honeyed, rounded finish. Fine and expressive with white peach and pear fruit matched by the typical fresh acidity of the vintage. Pinot Gris can often lack a little acidity and come across round and lacking direction, not so here. This is such a consistent Pinot Gris – a wine that impressed in a multitude of vintages. Drinking now, it will age until 2017 and maybe a little beyond, but why wait?

The Grand Cru

Domaine Albert Boxler, Riesling, Grand Cru Brand 2010 
£150 per six bottles in bond 

From 40 year old vines on this famous steep, stony vineyard. Again a dry, refreshing style of Riesling but with so much more power and concentration. Fresh lemon and lime scents on the nose, with a viscous, smooth texture on the palate and a darting, mineral finish. A mouth watering, linear wine with terrific mineral persistence and the purity that is the hallmark of this domaine. This is sure to develop well over time – we suggest drinking up to 2025.

Domaine Albert Boxler, Pinot Gris, Grand Cru Brand 2010 
£125 per six bottles in bond

A stunning wine and one of the stronger vintages for the Brand Pinot Gris that I can recall. Initially subtle, and reticent on the nose This is packed with orchard fruits, gently rounded, and ample, with a fine complexity of fruit and stony mineral nuances on the mid-palate. Juicier accented fruits come to the fore with a peachy, almost citrusy character to the finish. With discreet hints of spice and smoke already starting to develop I would hold off for a few years to gain maximum enjoyment here. A great, wonderfully pure Pinot Gris with plenty of power and direction, without any sense of heaviness. Wait until 2017 and drink for a decade thereafter.

Domaine Albert Boxler, Gewurztraminer, Grand Cru Brand 2010 
£150 per six bottles in bond

An expressive, opulent white crafted from 43 year old vines. Floral, scented and tangy fruit aromas are immediately evident on the nose. The palate shows terrific depth, quite compact in its way with honeyed, exotic fruits. There is a finely poised sense of balance to this stunning Gewurz – with spicy, rosy floral fruit characters offset by a markedly vibrant acidity. Poise is not often a word that enters my notes for many Gewurz as some can seem cumbersome and heady, not so here.  There is a great sense of finesse about the Brand 2010. Drinking now but will no doubt evolve complexity over the next ten years and possibly beyond.

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