One sign that spring has officially sprung is the current Alsace promotion at B.C. Liquor stores, ongoing through April. Overshadowed by France's celebrated red wine-dominant regions, Alsace (which makes mainly whites) often gets lost in the shuffle. Blame it, in part, on a past that for centuries saw the region lobbed back and forth between varying forms of French and German or Prussian rule.
B.C.'s seafood and Asian-influenced dishes add up to perfect partners for Alsatian wines, especially Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurz, which are made to be enjoyed with food. As a rule, they have plenty of acidity and are rarely exposed to oak.
Fourth-generation winemaker Hubert Trimbach once said to me: "Alsace doesn't need oak. Our grapes are expressive of the character. We are purists. We believe in the clean aspect of wine grapes-if wine is wooded it's not clean any more."
When it comes to culinary prowess, few can compete with this region that calls choucroute its own and is home to such treats as tarte flambÃ©e.
Distinguished by superb fruit expression and bound up with acidity that makes them dynamic food partners, Alsatian wines are usually shaped by understatement that allows the fruit to show through.
Here's a few to put some spring in your kitchen, without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.
. Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer '09 Viscose and layered, this wine typifies what sets Alsace apart, with honey and citrus notes before hints of minerality and a touch of spice. Think piquant Asian plates. BCLS $25.99.
. Hugel Pinot Blanc 2008 Floral and citrus notes on top with firm acidity through an assertive, dry palate, bright citrus and a crisp, clean close. BCLS $19.99.
. Paul Zinck Pinot Blanc 2009 Stonefruit and pear on the nose, followed by a firmly fruited but structured and clean, citrus-toned palate with a gently spicy and zesty close. A perfect sipper or a good match with grilled chicken or pork chops. Screwcap. BCLS $17.99.
. Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2008
Bright gold in the glass, with seductive stone fruit and honeyed notes on top before a plush, oily complex palate wrapped in luscious tropical tones but underpinned by clean acidity and mineral hints with a lingering, generous close. Think blue cheese, richly sauced white fish-or foie gras anything. BCLS $33.95.
Here's an early heads-up for the third annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week (May 18 to 26) for which tickets went on sale April 12.
In its brief history, VCBW has proven to be one of the hottest fests on the roster. This year's rock 'n' roll-themed lineup includes 60 special events and an impressive 60 craft breweries, with Mayor Gregor Robertson tapping the first keg of Collaboration Beer at Darby's Liquor Store in the Roundhouse.
Some of the most popular events guaranteed to sell out early include the Hop-Headbanger's Ball, Hoppapalooza 3, Biercraft Belgian Showcase, Battle of the Bartenders Beer Cocktail Competition, Cicerone vs. Sommelier, and Sisters of the Tap. It all wraps up with the May 25 and 26 VCBW Beer Festival, presented by Legacy Liquor Store and BierCraft at the spectacular Salt Building in the Village on False Creek.
If you're keen, get on it today at vancouvercraftbeerweek.com.
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