Andrew at www.spittoon.biz has unearthed a story about Alsace wine producer Paul Blanck at Kientzheim (68 Haut Rhin, Alsace), and his adoption of screwcaps rather than cork closures for his top of the range Grand Cru wines. The story is interesting because Alsace generally has a reputation for being one of the less-adventurous wine regions in France – producing some excellent, if sometimes pricey wines – but an area which holds on to its tradtions with determination. Perhaps it has to do with the history of the region and having successively been French then German and then French again and again. Their retention of the germanic fluted bottle and in many cases germanic typefaces on labels does not help to distinguish their undeniably great wines from the often disappointing wines across the Rhine in Germany. It is also an area which is quite geographically isolated from most of the other main wine-producing regions of France – as you would discover if you visited. It is a truly beautiful area, with a surprising level of annual sunshine hours – plenty of quaint villages , impressive hillsides and superb wines. Paul Blanck however has been brave and innovative, not least because his main market, which is France is generaly more resistant than the rest of the world to the loss of the cork. True, I enjoy the frisson of excitement that comes with pulling a cork – drama and expectation which is missing with the screwcap. But as Paul Blanck says “I have never seen wine improved by corks, but too often wine ruined by corks.”. Paul Blancks Alsace wines are available in the UK from Adnams
somewhere to stay, a ferry, a train or car hire?