Visiting Alsace & the Mosel: Ask me anything!

Hi folks! For most of you who don't know me, my name is Zach Geballe, and I'm a sommelier, wine writer, podcast host, and wine educator in Seattle...well, usually. At the moment I'm in Strasbourg, a few days into a month-long European trip that includes Alsace, the Mosel Valley, and then participating in the Banfi/SommFoundation enrichment trip to Italy. I wanted to post this forum thread to allow those of you who might have questions about some of the regions and producers I'm visiting to ask them. I will do my best to answer, though I've already been to some of the domaines, but I will do my best to answer whatever questions you might have. Below, I'll list the producers I will be visiting in Alsace and the Mosel, as well as some initial thoughts:

Alsace Producers:

Joseph Cattin (10/5), Emile Beyer (10/5), Domaine Schoffit (10/6), Maison Trimbach (10/8), Hugel & Fils (10/8), Zind-Humbrecht (10/9), Pierre Sparr (10/9), Lucien Albrecht (10/10)

Mosel Producers (confirmed so far):

Dr. Loosen (10/12), S.A. Prum (10/15)

Initial impressions of Alsace:

Several things are striking about the region in a way that might not be conveyed in books or on maps (besides maybe a topographical one). The plain of Alsace is surprisingly wide and flat; I had imagined less space between the Vosges and the Black Forest Mountains, but it's quite broad. That said, the vineyards, in particular the quality ones, really hug the Vosges, with principally some kind of exposure between east and southeast, with of course the famous exception of the Rangen.

Joseph Cattin (well, really the current generation Jacques and Anaïs) have invested heaving in oenotourism as a business model. Despite being located in the small village of Vœgtlinshoffen, they just opened a very modern tasting room and rooftop wine bar that would not look out of place at all in your favorite American wine region. Even in the middle of a weekday during the offseason, they had a number of groups come in to the winery to taste, tour, and buy, so perhaps this move was a wise one. The other domaines we've visited so far have been more modest in their set-up, with either a small public tasting room or being invite-only.

We somms tend to talk more about Riesling in Alsace than the other varietals (at least me and my colleagues), but the revelations on the trip for me have been Gewurztraminer and especially Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris has rarely been a grape that's gripped my imagination much, but several of the expressions we've had have been truly exceptional: musky and just slightly exotic, with hints of sweet citrus and stone fruits. Schoffit's Grand Cru Rangen Pinot Gris might have stolen the show had it not been for the bottle of 1995 Rangen Riesling we tasted as well...but of the 2016s, it was the most dynamic. Gewurztraminer too seems to be far more complex and interesting than the "faceful of flowers" I often encounter, though producers do admit that there's a limited market for it, even locally.

Pinot Noir is also a much-discussed topic, as the Alsatians realize that adding a red wine to their lineup can help open a lot of doors, yet while most producers are making at least some Pinot Noir, only one has actually poured it for us. Interesting though, Emile Beyer has planted Pinot Noir at the top of Clos Lucas Beyer in the Pfersigberg Grand Cru vineyard, with the intention of turning those grapes into a premium Pinot Noir.

On the non-wine front, my wife and I decided to stay in Strasbourg so as to have more non-wine options open to us when we were not at vineyards. This definitely has added some travel time to our days when we do visit wineries, as they're typically a 45-60 minute drive from the city: Colmar would have been much more convenient. That said, we're very happy with our decison, as Strasbourg is a thoroughly modern city that nonetheless has a ton of old charm. We are staying on the Grand Ile, the island in the middle of the Ill River which is the ancient center of the city, and it's a wonderful walking neighborhood with tons of restaurants, shops, and bars. The Cathedral of Strasbourg is remarkable, and quite distinct from the many cathedrals I've seen in other European cities. You can of course find tons of the traditional dishes of Alsace in the restaurants: you'll never want for choucroute, but we have also had some excellent Indian (Goan) food on this trip so far.

Anyhow, please feel free to leave questions below (for me or the producers I'm visiting), and I will do my best to answer promptly, though time zones and a four-month-old (our other travel companion) may conspire against me.