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95-Points, Grand Cru Designation, Sub-$20 Price: The White Wine Value of 2018 - 01/12/2018 - Alsace

Let’s get right out and say it: this very well could be the best white wine deal of 2018. The pair of wines featured here have it all going on - save for one thing: name recognition. They hail from two of the most coveted Grand Cru sites in Alsace, are crafted by one of the most respected and innovative producers in the region, and are priced for a fraction of what you’d expect of a wine of this pedigree. These 2016s from Julien Schaal are truly amazing finds that we know will delight any true wine lover. We realize that sometimes you might be skeptical when so many superlatives get strung together, but you have to believe us when we say these wines are nothing short of phenomenal. Nervy, vivid, and wildly expressive, they possesses everything we look for in a top-tier Riesling. Unfortunately, Riesling continues to suffer a bit of a bad rap, with echoes of Blue Nun and still reverberating through our collective consciousness. These are not that by any measure. They are dry, serious wines for stunning range and depth that will delight both the connoisseur and a neophyte alike. The $19.99 price tag for these is downright silly and given the drinking pleasure they afford, we’d happily pay triple that. For more on why this is such a remarkable deal, check out our recent On The Trail post.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
2016 Julien Schaal Kastleberg Grand Cru Riesling Alsace 95 $19.99 View
2016 Julien Schaal Rosacker Grand Cru Riesling Alsace 95 $19.99 View

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2016 Julien Schaal Kastleberg Grand Cru Riesling Alsace ($19.99)

95 points Wine Enthusiast: "Chamomile and ripe, red-apple notes make for an appetizing nose. The palate adds lovely vivid notes of zesty tangerine to this. Aromas of hay flowers also appear on this shimmering, aromatic, tight, taut and linear Riesling. Concentration fills the mouth with wonderfully light but sure-footed brightness and flavor. The dry long finish has a grounding earthy touch. Simply wonderful. Drink 2017 - 2035."

K&L Notes: Winery Notes: " The charm of our Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Kastelberg lies in its elegance its virility, and its delicate, discreet bouquet. Tight, mineral and lemony with good acidity. Really mineral and fresh with a pithy, taut character. Bone dry...This wine exhibits a great length and potential. Kastelberg or "Castle Hill" - is an ancient Grand Cru vineyard, first planted in Roman times (noted in writing in 1064), boasts an especially complex Blue Schist soil unique in Alsace and which is perfect for the production of great Riesling. From 50+ year old vines growing on terraces in the very heart of the Grand Cru this wine is bone dry and utterly classic Riesling that will age for 10 years, longer even. Yields are extremely low here, the resultant concentration and clarity are dazzling."

Staff ImageLilia McIntosh | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 17, 2018

This Riesling from Kastelberg vineyard has distinctive red apple aromas and flavors similar to McIntosh apples, citrus pith, white grapefruit and pomelo with heavier mineral content that comes from schist soil. It's dry, bold and muscular style of Riesling.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 17, 2018

A super focused, racy, bright rendition of Alsatian Riesling thanks to its Blue Schist origins. Spring blossom, crunchy orchard fruits, citrus peel, wet stone. Dry and zesty but with weight and texture too. Stunning value for Grand Cru Riesling.

Staff ImageMorgan Laurie | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 16, 2018

This is delicious, dry, Grand Cru Riesling for $20. Notes of crisp Fuji apple, chamomile and wet stone with a slightly rounder mouthfeel and toned down acidity make this accessible and easy drinking. This wine has great length and a ton of elegance. A definite must for lovers of Riesling.

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 15, 2018

This wine has a lot to offer for lovers of dry Riesling. There is a beautiful subtle nose. In the mouth are bright and juicy light fruit flavors with a layer of mineral notes. A nice dry finish helps wrap up this package.

Staff ImageBrian Fogarty | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 11, 2018

Any French House dedicating themselves solely to Grand Cru wines must have extraordinarily high standards in the vineyards and the cellar while maintaining a clear understanding of their stylistic goals in the bottle. Julien Schaal indeed does work with the whos-who of vineyard sights, has built a state of the art new cellar in 2011, and proudly proclaims their signature style of terroir driven, Grand Cru expressions in full bodied tones. If I were to taste the Kastelberg Riesling blind (I did not) I would have guesses Pinot Blanc with the first sniff; deep round tones of yellow plumb, brine and lemon peel come rolling out of the glass in a wave. The floral tones that build are also bolder and richer than the typical white flowers you see in the familiar, sharp, tense Rieslings of Germany (or Alsace). This wine belongs with the main course at dinner not just the seafood appetizer! On the palate I am of course re-convinced that yes this is indeed Riesling, but a more muscular, palate filling, unconscious version. This is the essence of why Grand Crus are isolated and exalted; they are uniquely expressive in their own poetic way! White flowers, defined precision, ripe apple and white pepper all come out of hiding to greet you on the first sip in a gentle, lower acid environment that has a very strong mid-palate and a long mineral finish.

Staff ImageJordan Stone | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 04, 2018

The Kastleberg Grand Cru Riesling is bone dry. A perfect bottle to try if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of Riesling. This wine I would pair with food. A bucket of mussels , Dungeness Crab or White sauce pasta with clams. Nice Bright acidity . Some green apple flavors. Great minerality .

Staff ImageShaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 04, 2018

Wowza! The Kastelberg from Julien Schaal is an absolutely wonderful expression of dry Alsace Riesling from one of the best vineyards at a price so low that is hard to understand. The wine shows a lovely rich, slightly oily texture. Great exotic notes and loads of power show up mid palate, but with a strong line of racy acidity to hold it all together. This is what Riesling from Alsace is all about!

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 03, 2018

Between this wine and the other Schaal Riesling we have in stock right now, life is pretty good for us white wine aficionados. While I know most folks are going to get swept up in the St. Hune vineyard origin of the Rosacker (and rightly so), the Kastleberg was my favorite of the two when tasted blindly. It's so mineral and vibrant in its profile, electrifying my palate with racy acidity and leaving me salivating for more. I was utterly stupefied by this wine. It's SOOOOOOOOOO good and it comes from one of Alsace's grand cru vineyards loaded with blue schist, the rocky soil known for its ability to translate laser-like acidity into the wine itself. The proof is in the pudding here. You buy a bottle first, then you come back for the case.

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2016 Julien Schaal Rosacker Grand Cru Riesling Alsace ($19.99)

95 points Wine Enthusiast: "A wonderfully aromatic nose presents orange blossom and tangerine zest, Seville orange and ripe mandarin. All of these notions are joyously bundled on the concentrated dry palate that is brightened with even more zesty lemon freshness. There is drive here and an arrow-like structure that is energetic and totally refreshing. Uncompromising freshness, expressed with exuberant citrus charm, enlivens everything. The absolutely dry finish is invigorating and lasting. Drink 2018-2025. (AK)" (12/2017)

K&L Notes: Winery Notes: "Complex, taut and mineral with some spice, apricot, lime and pear. A hint of tangerine, and lovely tingling acidity. Great complexity and balance. Rosacker is among the most celebrated of Alsace's Grands Crus, with descriptions of its wines dating back to 1483. It owes its name to the wild roses, which grow in abundance around the edge of the vineyard. The limestone soils here produce Rieslings that are bone-dry yet which have a rare richness and mouth-filling texture. The vines that produce this wine are 40 years of age. With great complexity and balance this organic wine will easily age for two decades."

Staff ImageLilia McIntosh | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 17, 2018

Beautiful and extremely complex Riesling. On the nose it explodes with aromas of lemon, citrus blossom, honeysuckle and meadow flowers accompanied by mineral notes reminiscent of chalk soil.On the palate it's fry, crisp full-bodied Riesling with juicy mouthwatering citrus fruit and Forelle pear with long lasting mineral finish.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 17, 2018

I just couldn't believe this wine when I tasted it...I was even more stunned when I learned the price! Almost certainly one of the best deals on any wine in our inventory. A truly world class Grand Cru Riesling from one of the most prestigious vineyards on the planet for $20!? Piercing chalky minerality, a generous, powerful mouthfeel but loaded with tension and coiled intensity. The old vines really express themselves here. An ultimately terroir driven wine from one of the most distinctive and celebrated terroirs of them all the Clos St. Hune.

Staff ImageChristina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 16, 2018

With 95 points from Wine Enthusiast, The Julien Schaal Rosacker Grand Cru is light, crisp, quite dry, and with a brighter perceptible acid than the Kastleberg Grand Cru from the same producer and vintage. The name "Calcaire" comes from the rose strewn vineyard's limestone, calcium rich soil. With a beautiful light golden hue, the wine displays aromas of faint petrol, lemon pith, under ripe green apple, and orange blossom, with a chalky, mineral finish that won't quit.

Staff ImageJoe Bruno | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 16, 2018

A lovely and fun Alsatian Riesling that is a perfect choice for your next dinner party. An initial bouquet of orange blossom and wet stones followed by tangerine zest, mandarin, lime, and green apple aromas. Zippy on the palate, with flavors of lime juice, stone minerality, lemon pith, and meyer lemon. The acidity is high, but what makes this wine so inviting is the inherent freshness, making it a great option as both an aperitif or with food pairing applications. An overall great value!

Staff ImageJeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 15, 2018

This is for people who are looking for a excellent dry Riesling. There are beautiful delicate aromas that are subtle and inviting. In the mouth it is pure with nice light fruit, a hint of minerals and a dry finish that gives this wine a nice balance.

Staff ImageShaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 04, 2018

This is one of those wines we don't ask too many questions about the price but buy as much as we can! A beautiful expression of Alsace Riesling Grand Cru, but under $20.... why not! I did recheck the price a couple times to make sure I wasn't making a mistake. Beautiful and a bit rounder than the Kastelberg with a nice touch of yellow fruits and peach stone in the middle. The acidity level balances the whole perfectly. Perfectly dry and refined, this is going to make a lot of friends!

Staff ImageAlex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 04, 2018

From one of the top vineyard sites in Alsace, the pedigree of this wine is apparent at the outset. Wonderful minerality with a touch of honey and stone fruit, this is an incredibly linear and focused dry wine with superb balance and length. It hits well above its price.

Staff ImageDavid Driscoll | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: January 03, 2018

This is the white wine deal of 2018 and we're only in January! For those of you wondering what the big deal is I'd do web search for the Trimbach Clos St. Hune riesling and see what that runs you per bottle. Then come back and have a look at the $19.99 price tag we're running for the Schaal "Rosacker," a wine made from fruit from that exact same vineyard. When you taste the precision of the acidity, the concentration of the minerality, and the delicacy of the fruit here, there's no doubt you're drinking something super high end. However, your brain might not understand why it is you're paying so little for something so wonderful. I haven't quite wrapped my head around it either, do don't feel bad. What I'm trying to do at this point is map out my wine budget. I could drink this wine every day and never get tired of it. The stony, steely flavors of the clean and crisp fruit gliding over my palate endlessly! If you've never bought a bottle of Alsacian riesling in your life, this is the one to start with. Either this one, or the Kastleberg which is equally as good in my mind.