Trimbach

Trimbach Alsace, France.

With viticultural origins going back to 1626 this family owned estate produces some of the finest wines not only of Alsace, but indeed the entire world of wine. Around the villages of Ribeauvillé and Hunawihr, the Trimbach family owns 27 hectares of vineyards including 1.67ha of Rosacker Grand cru (which produces the highly famed Clos Sainte Hune Riesling) as well as parcels of Geisberg and Osterberg (blended to make the equally renowned Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile). Geisberg and Osterberg are located on the hill rising up behind the ‘new’ family winery on the edge of Ribeauvillé. The family moved from their ‘old’ winery in Hunawihr in the 1890’s! Indeed, the label of Clos Sainte Hune depicts the view to the local church from the old winery in Hunawihr.

According to Jean Trimbach, the house style is aiming for ‘harmonious wines that are concentrated, not heavy; fruity, not sweet; bracing rather than fat; polite rather than voluptuous.’ To that end, fermentations are cool and slow, maloloactic fermentation is not carried out and the wines are bottled early to retain freshness.

The dry Rieslings are usually made with less than 5g/l of residual sugar, whereas the dry Gewürztraminers might carry up to 10g/l. The wines are then aged in the cellar for at least one year; up to 5 years or more for the top wines. Even the richer Vendanges Tardive and Selection de Grains Nobles wines are made with more restraint than is usual in Alsace more generally: VT Rieslings typically carry 15-40g/l; VT Gewürztraminer around 50-75g/l; and SGN typically from 100g/l.

WINE NOTES AND REVIEWS – CURRENT VINTAGES

CLASSIC

2015 Trimbach Pinot Blanc
Clean and fresh yet dense and rich but less heavy than the Auxerrois wines of many producers, offering honeyed and spicy flavors of white and yellow stone fruit (this is about 80 percent Auxerrois). The warm, dry 2015 vintage shows through, and in fact Jean Trimbach told me that “this reminds me of the 2009, another warm year, but this has more density.” Say what you will, but as good as this is, almost every time I try well-made Sylvaner and Auxerrois wines side by side (not just by Trimbach but from almost any other Alsatian producer), I find it hard to understand why in Alsace the former is so out of fashion and the latter so popular. Frankly, it’s a mistake, especially in a day and age when people want dry, fresh, less rich white wines, more in the style of Sylvaner. Drink 2017-2022. 90 points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, March 2017.

2014 Trimbach Riesling
Bright straw-yellow. Green apple, white flowers and a note of powdered stone on the nose and palate. Juicy, spicy and nicely delineated, finishing with lovely mineral tang and lemony acidity. This is made from mainly purchased grapes, but as no Cuvée M was made in 2014, that wine ended up in this Riesling. Drink 2019-2028.’ 89+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, February 2016.

RESERVE

2015 Trimbach Pinot Gris Réserve
‘From purchased grapes from the Haut-Rhin department, the 2015 Pinot Gris Réserve displays perfectly ripe and concentrated mango fruit with smoky flavors. On the palate, this is a rich and fruity, very fine and elegant Pinot in the dry style. The 2015 was bottled with 14% alcohol and seven grams of residual sugar. It is an excellent Pinot Gris that can stand even the Geisberg Grand Cru due to its richness, sweetness and structure. It is not as complex but, well, pretty sexy. Drink 2019-2025’ 89 points, Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com, July 2017.

2015 Trimbach Riesling Réserve
Pale straw. White stone fruit, botanical herbs and crushed stone on the perfumed nose. Dense, rich and juicy, displaying clean mineral nuances to the mirabelle and apple flavors. Long, lemony and fresh on the zingy finish. Made with roughly 40-year-old vines historically used to make the Réserve (from vineyards around the towns of Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr and Bergheim). This will go on sale toward the end of 2017, as the estate is still currently selling its 2013. Drink 2109-2028. 91+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, March 2017.

2014 Trimbach Riesling Vieilles Vignes
Bright straw-yellow. Subdued, delicate aromas of lime, green apple, wet stone and tarragon. Soft and supple on entry, then turns more taut in the middle and finishes suave, dry and long, with bracing yellow apple and fresh herb flavors but no sharp edges. This youthful wine will need plenty of bottle age to reach optimal drinkability. Trimbach does not produce this selection every year (recently, it was made in 09, ’11, ’12 and ’14), only when there are enough high-quality grapes to make it without compromising the quality of the Réserve bottling. In fact, this wine is almost always a little richer and deeper than the Réserve. Drink 2017-2026’ 91+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, February 2016.

2013 Trimbach Pinot Noir Réserve
2013 was “an excellent vintage for Pinot Noir,” says Pierre Trimbach serving the 2013 Pinot Noir Réserve: “We picked healthy grapes with good maturity and good acidity levels.” The grapes were picked with a potential alcohol of 13% and the must was completely fermented in inox but stored in concrete vats and old wooden casks. Dark berry and cherry flavors on the very aromatic, fresh and floral bouquet which is lovely pure and elegant. Silky textured, very fruity, fresh and clear, with fine tannins this is a super, well balanced and stimulating Pinot Noir in a lighter style, with less extraction but swing and an appetizing grip. Drink 2016-2021.’ 86 points, Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com, October 2015.

RESERVE PERSONNELLE

2014 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve Personnelle
A very elegant dry pinot gris with a delicate floral-honey nose. Rich yet polished on the palate. A clean and long finish. An excellent wine for sophisticated French cuisine. Drink or hold. 92 points, Stuart Pigott, JamesSuckling.com, May 2018.

Bright yellow. Sexy peach, strawberry nectar and orange oil on the perfumed nose. Rich, powerful and dry; this currently uncompromising wine is much bigger, richer and rounder than the Pinot Gris Réserve. It’s almost sweet by Trimbach’s standards (7 or 8 g/l residual sugar) but has enough lively acidity to age well. The bright finish features delicate floral reminders. Not obviously better than the Pinot Gris Réserve today, but it surely will be in time. Drink 2019-2028. 91 points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, February 2016.

2011 Trimbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre (375ml)
Produced from old vines in the former wine estate of the Lords of Ribeaupierre in the Osterberg Grand Cru, along with fruit from Muhlforst and Rosacker in Hunawihr.

‘The 2011 Gewurztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs Ribeaupierre is deep and smoky on the nose, rich, concentrated, ripe and exciting, with lots of citrus flavors. Full-bodied, rich, intense and tension-filled on the palate, this is a complex and mineral Gewurz that is a fresh, precise, salty, fresh and lovely tannic wine with a long and complex finish. A great Gewurz, indeed. Drink 2017-2050.’ 94 points, Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com, July 2017.

2008 Trimbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre
‘Fresh lime and its zest lend the Trimbach 2008 Gewurztraminer Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre a rather Riesling-like aura, while a hint of sweetness supports its notes of litchi and melon, which fruit pit and citrus peel bitterness helps to balance-out for a virtually dry finishing impression. Full and rich – I can see why the decision was taken not to let it ferment below 13 grams of residual sugar – this evinces fascinating low-tones of smoked meat, peat, and clove in a persistent, if faintly warm finish.’ 90 points, David Schildknecht, RobertParker.com, May 2011.

2009 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile
This wine is named for Frédéric Emile Trimbach who became famous for providing a new guarantee of quality and authenticity for Trimbach in 1898. The south and south-east facing Ribeauvillé Grand Crus of Geisberg and Osterberg have been producing this wine for several generations. The average age of the vines, 45 years, results in limited yields.

‘(13.8% alcohol; 7.5 g/l total acidity; 3.09 pH; 3 g/l residual sugar): Pale straw-green. Delicate notes of cinnamon, sage and lemongrass on the enticing nose. Rich, dense and structured, with spicy white fruit, quince, fresh herbs and minty nuances on the structured palate. Finishes fresh and long, with a surprising amount of flesh, not surprising perhaps in a vintage that yielded some very heavy wines at other famous estates. Unlike many other wines made in this hot, dry growing season with a late harvest and little or no botrytis), this Frédéric Emile struck me as excellent and rather fresh.’ 92 points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, September 2013.

2008 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile
‘(13% alcohol; 9 g/l total acidity; 3 pH; 1 g/l residual sugar): Pale straw-green. Captivating, perfumed nose of yellow peach, fresh flowers, green apple, chlorophyll and talc; this is almost Mosel-like. Then fresh and saline in the mouth; juicy and dense, with laser-like acidity and wonderful clarity and cut to its white stone fruit and apple flavors. Finishes long and minerally, with a zesty edge that will leave your mouth watering. A mesmerizing Riesling. This vintage features one of the lowest levels of residual sugar Trimbach has ever had in their Frédéric Emile. Both of the Trimbach brothers feel that 2008 is the greatest vintage for the Frédéric Emile between 2005 and 2009, but I think that may be selling this wine short. To my taste, this is one of the top ten Frederic Emiles ever. Drink 2020-2036’ 94+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, September 2013.

2007 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile
(13.3% alcohol; 7.9 g/l total acidity; 3 pH; 0.7 g/l residual sugar): Pale straw-green color. Quince, chlorophyll, licorice, menthol, jasmine and lemon verbena on a nose that’s surprisingly perfumed for what was a very warm vintage. Fragrant, fresh and clean on entry, with harmonious but lively acidity lifting the lemon and lime flavors complicated by minty herbs, quinine and licorice. Minerally and penetrating on the long, saline finish, showing more flesh than some other Frédéric Emile vintages. The 2007 vintage began like 2011, with very early flowering and veraison dates, but 2007 was fresher overall. A few September rains had people fearing a repeat of 2006 (when inclement fall weather damaged harvest quality), and many producers pulled the trigger too soon, picking grapes that were not fully ripe.’ 92 points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, September 2013.

GRAND CRU

2013Trimbach Riesling Cuvée M (M for Mandelberg Grand Cru)
Medium-dark yellow. Lemon zest and anise complicate ripe tropical fruit aromas on the nose. Fat and rich in the mouth, with fine-grained peach and exotic fruit flavors showing compelling sweetness and complicated by a strong note of marzipan. Not particularly closed for a young Riesling, but the long, powerful finish suggests this will age well. Preiss-Henny used to make great wines from these vines, and the Trimbach family was happy to buy them up over the years. Mandelberg is an exceptionally warm site, and its Rieslings are more tropical and forward than most in Alsace, with a strong note of ripe pineapple. Drink 2018-2026.’ 91+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, February 2016.

2015 Trimbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg
The 2015 Grand Cru Schlossberg Riesling is only the second vintage (after 2014) and comes from a plot straight above the castle of Kaysersberg and below the forest that was planted 35 years ago. The wine opens with a very clear, fresh and cool bouquet, indicating lovely, concentrated, precise and fresh fruit. On the palate, this is a highly elegant, pure, rich, intense but lifted and finessed Riesling à la Trimbach, with fine but concentrated fruit, good acidity and a lingering salinity. It is a cool-climate Riesling coming from a higher and cooler plot in this prestigious, south-facing cru, which was perfect in a warm vintage like 2015. In fact, the 2015 is a great, dry, granite Riesling that was harvested with just 35 hl/ha and has a total acidity of 8.6 grams per liter! Total production: 3,500+ bottles. Drink 2020-2035. 93 points, Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com, July 2017.

2012 Trimbach Riesling Grand Cru Geisberg
The 2012 Riesling Grand Cru Geisberg is very clear, stony and lemon-fresh on the intense yet still somewhat untamed nose where almost Mediterranean herbal flavors are displayed. Very elegant and dense on the palate, with ripe fruit flavors this Geisberg has tension and concentration and a long and promising finish but is still somewhat closed at the moment. Drink 2018-2032.’ 91+ points, Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com, October 2015.

PRESTIGE

2012 Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte Hune
Very cool, delicate and floral with daring elegance. Not the most powerful wine of this ripe vintage, but extremely refined. A very long finish that is marked by chalky minerality. The way that it literally blossoms in the glass after half an hour suggests that this masterpiece has at least a couple of decades of life ahead of it. Decant if you want to drink now. 97 points, Stuart Pigott, JamesSuckling.com, May 2018.

2008 Trimbach Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives
The 2008 Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive is, at 60 grams residual sugar, unabashedly and for a Trimbach V.T. surprisingly sweet. But then, it had already reached 13.7% alcohol. A remarkable nose – vegetarians beware! – suggests smoked pork, sauteed veal sweetbreads, and truffle-studded foie gras, and the palate is just as sinfully rich as the nose implies, encompassing as well a honeyed intensity of quince and mirabelle preserves; white Burgundy-like toasted brioche; and hints of brown spices. This is a meal unto itself, and for all of its amplitude reveals a sense of buoyancy. But it will take many years for the sense of sweetness to significantly back-off. One could certainly plan on following this for a quarter century.’ 92 points, David Schildknecht RobertParker.com February 2008.

2015 Trimbach Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives
A gewurztraminer masterpiece! Smells like walking through a tropical garden at dawn. On the palate, it is creamy and elegant at the same time. With just enough sweetness to fit into this category and just enough acidity to make the finish very long. Pure and precise. Delicious now, but the track record of this wine suggests that it has at least 10 years of aging potential. 96 points, Stuart Pigott, JamesSuckling.com, May 2018.

Bright golden-tinged yellow. Pure lemon, minerals and honeyed mango on the knockout nose. Very pure and elegant, offering flavors of grapefruit, menthol and candied violet. Finishes long and clean, displaying a delicate flintiness and a ripe honeyed note. Luscious and precise, but doesn’t seem especially sweet (though at 65 g/L residual sugar, this is no slouch in the “sugar load” department). Lovely balance from start to finish and will likely prove very ageworthy. Made with practically only passerillé (air-dried) grapes, with little or no noble rot to speak of. Drink 2023-2038. 93+ points, Ian d’Agata, Vinous, March 2017.

2000 Trimbach Pinot Gris Selection de Grains Nobles
‘Medium gold. Rather restrained aromas of tangerine, dried pit fruits, honey and licorice. Super sweet and thick, with powerful (10 grams/liter) acidity keeping the flavors fresh. A wine of great sucrosity but very clean and vibrant on the finish. To get concentration like this, says Jean, we usually need to harvest a month later. This bottling was previously offered in ’94 and ’90, but the 2000 version will probably be even longer-lived than those earlier vintages. RS 100g/l.’ 93-95 points, Stephen Tanzer, Vinous, July 2001.

2007 Trimbach Gewürztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles Hors Choix
The 2007 Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles Hors Choix represents a cuvee designation that the Trimbachs also utilized in 1989 and 2000 for wine of near Esszencia-like richness. Essence of rose petal along with mirabelle preserves, mint candy, and brown spices on the nose are joined on a thickly-rich palate by honey, chocolate, and white raisin. Yet for all of its richness and gaudy, candied set of flavors, this preserves a juicy sense of leavening and refreshment in a finish of extraordinary persistence, its sweetness not in the least cloying. This should be a 50 year wine.’
96 points, David Schildknecht, RobertParker.com, April 2010.

2001 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile Selection de Grains Nobles
(made from the third of three passes through Trimbach’s holding in the grand cru Geisberg, on November 5) Pale medium-gold color. Exotic yellow fruits, roasted pineapple and white raisin on the nose. Hugely sweet but sappy, pure and focused. A large-scaled fruit bomb, with penetrating spice and caraway seed notes and electric acidity. Not at all overly sweet at 74 grams/liter residual sugar. A brilliant example of the ineffably pure botrytis of this vintage: even at SGN ripeness, this is still clearly identifiable as riesling. In the past couple of decades, this wine has been made only in 1989, 1990, 2000 and 2001. There’s always a breeze coming through the deep valley of Aubeure, notes Pierre, so it’s rare that any kind of rot takes root on this fruit.’
96+ points, Stephen Tanzer, Vinous, November 2003.