A Matter of Taste: Alsace

Today we launch our weekly tasting and events “newspaper” A Matter of Taste.  Each week we will share with you the wines we tasted, the wines we loved, wines that were offered to us both from collectors and in the market.  

Last week I had the pleasure of attending some spectacular tastings here in Boston.  I share with you my favorites and some fun facts about the regions, the producers and the wine. Do not hesitate to reach out should you want more information on the wines or would like us to find some for you.  

Alsace is one of the most under appreciated regions in France.  Renowned the world over for wines that are a perfect combination with food.  Alsace produces a full range of wines from distinct, rare varietals and in styles from dry to sweet.  The region also benefits from being the only region in France with all three distinct soil types (clay, loam and sand) making the wines expressive of place across various plots of land in connected vineyards.   


Domaine Marcel Deiss is a leader in bio-dynamic practices within Alsace and has been actively pushing the boundaries of wine production using bio-dynamic practices since 1990.  In Alsace there are officially 13 varietals of wines. Many producers in the region have single vineyard plantings of varietals, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, etc. but Jean-Michel, the winemaker, practices selection massale, growing multiple varietals in one vineyard. 

Our favorite wines of the tasting were the 2002 and 2013 1er Cru Gruenspiel comparison, which is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. I also enjoyed the vast differences between the three Grand Cru wines we tasted, Mambourg, Altenberg and Schoenenbourg, 2013.  We also tasted a 2001 Altenberg which was amazingly complex and a roadmap to the way the young 2013 will evolve. 

Schoenenbourg 2013 pictured left and '02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured right

Schoenenbourg 2013 pictured left and '02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured right

'02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured left and '01 Altenberg pictured right 

'02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured left and '01 Altenberg pictured right 


Schoenenbourg was one of the most famous wines of the Middle Ages, revered for its ability to age and evolve.  The unique pure clay subsoil in Shoenenbourg has 40% natural gypsum, yep the stuff in we use to make walls, making it remarkably resistant to oxidation.    



Learn more about the evolution of Alsace.  The new and old generations are transforming classifications and recognizing the value in distinct wines that qualify as Grand Cru.

Counting Eggs (Bottles) and Making Friends

Look familiar? Does the thought of figuring out what wine to drink this weekend leave you slightly overwhelmed? Holidays and family celebrations provide us with a unique opportunity to pull that "special" bottle from the cellar or take a chance on the wine merchant and learn more about a wine we have never had. And to reflect.

What would your wine map look like?

I recently had the great pleasure of working with a new client to organize and inventory his wines. A familiar story of wines going from one house to the next having been collected over the years and finally being consolidated in a temperature controlled locker. He happily showed me the first wine his mother ever gave him, we rediscovered his honeymoon wines and he introduced me to new producers and shared his stories of his wine travels. We talked about the wines from Italy and the little old lady he woke from a mid-day siesta who offered him lunch as he journeyed up to her cellar. He shared the story of a promient Napa wine producer and his special plot of Zinfandel planted just for said producer as his "lunch" wine. For hours we were undisturbed by phones, email or the rest of the world and we just talked wines and shared stories, having only met that day. We took a trip down wine memory lane and now we will figure out where those wines are in their lifecycle.

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As we analyze the data, map the wines out and provide a roadmap for drinking his wines over the years to come, we will have done our job. We have helped the client re-connect with his wines, the wines will get into a glass and we have had time to reflect on how those wines came to be in that locker in the first place.

This holiday weekend whether you are a collector, new to wine or starting your wine library, find an interesting wine with a story to tell. If you can pull out an older vintage, do. If you have been saving a wine to share with those special friends and family, take a chance this weekend.

I am cracking a 2007 Chateau Angelus with British and Irish friends who are new to America. A few years ago I made a new friend at the Nantucket Wine Festival, Jean-Bernard Grenie, from Chateau Angelus. I was mesmerized by his wines and enchanted by his commitment to his craft and his kind, inviting demeanor. I will forever be grateful to him for coming to my home in Boston and sharing his wines with a few AOC Advisors supporters in the early days. A remarkable experience and one I will never forget. Easter 2017, with the wine now 10 years on in bottle, is the right time to check on the wine's evolution. I shall regale the story of JB, build more friendships through wine and learn a little bit more about the magical relationship between wine and time.

You have to drink it sometime, make the time. #nowinetozero

Six Top Tips for a Better Wine Year

Wine and time have a complicated relationship. Unlike other collectibles, wine goes to zero and as a "wasting asset" the need to actively manage and engage with a collection is imperative. Wine collections should be valued and reviewed every year just like any other asset. Here are six things we review for clients to set them up for a positive wine year to come.

1) Drinking Windows - Somewhat subjective but in actuality very quantifiable and important to the evolution and value of wine. The 2017 drinking window will open and the 2016 windows will close. The market will also look at the windows and assess a value accordingly. Knowing what wines to drink when over the next 5, 10 and 20 years can set a collection up to be fully enjoyed over time. Make a wine plan.

2) Diversity - Palates can change over time but the reality is palates vary by experience and education. The concept of a sophisticated palate should not be lost on a wine collection when reviewing its long term value. Wines from various regions, producers and varietals add to the offering and really shows the adaptability and range of experiences wine can offer.

3) Provenance - Where were the wines bought, where and how have they been stored? Is there original documentation to prove the source of purchase? Have the wines been stored with proper temperature, light and humidity? Not only will this affect the quality of the wine but its longevity and inherent value too.

4) Vintages - Well diversified collections across many vintages hold value over time much like a bond portfolio. As one vintage rolls on others evolve creating a unique value proposition. Top wines from top vintages and producers is traditionally the best strategy for holding value, but so called "off the run" vintages offer value and variability and may find increased demand as a result. Each vintage expresses the unique attributes of the weather which will affect how a wine will age. Each potential wine buyer has a level of knowledge or interest that varies from one to another and will influence their wine choices.

5) Rarity - Production size does matter. The Bordeaux Chateaux produce on average between 15,000 to 20,000 cases a year making them relatively accessible and liquid. Some Burgundy producers from one plot of land can produce as few as 300 to 5,000 cases. Wines not readily available from merchants, mailing list and allocated wines often have a brand value that is always in demand regardless of consistency. Supply and demand are the reality of the wine market and as time goes on the value of the wines has the potential to go up based on pure market force.

6) Format - Are wines in single bottles, six packs or 12 packs and do they have original wooden cases. Are the wines in unique hard to find formats like 5 L or 6 L or even larger. Larger formats tend to age longer, better and fewer of them are made. Larger formats are fun to share and offer an added bonus for the experiencing the wine.

Keeping up with a collection is not easy. Making it as hassle free and easy to engage with will only increase the value of your collection as well as it's enjoyment. Managing acquisitions and disposals throughout the year is easily accomplished with monthly updates. Following news on wines and vintage developments can be achieved when you know what you already own and where your wine interests lie. New year planning is the perfect opportunity to take stock, make a wine plan and get focused on the year ahead.

Contact us today for a free year-end consultation for you or your estate, wealth or insurance clients. You will be glad you did. No wine to zero.

Wine Tech - For the Wine Lover

There is clearly something going on in wine that is not just about new brands, styles, varietals or regions.

Over the past year three new consumer facing technology companies focused on data and software have emerged. On the hardware side two definitively new and one not so new, but rapidly growing company, are changing the way we drink wine.

I find it fascinating that in a consumer product industry like wine, technology is providing insight and transparency for an overly complicated product that demands a level of expertise and certainly some element of trust in your retailer or auction house. From Wine Searcher to Vivino, the consumer wants more insight than the current system can provide and technology is helping to fuel interest in the product.

This holiday for the wine lover in your life there is no shortage of cool wine tech gifts to give.


Vinolytics - My awesome software as a service is ready to take on traditional inventory management and simplify wine management. By driving engagement with wine through actionable insight, collectors and advisors can make more informed decisions about what to drink when ensuring no wine goes to zero. A beautiful, easy user experience gives a snapshot of a collection that provides total values on a market to market basis as well as performance and drinking windows. We are building a platform for collectors and advisors to meet and engage with each other and the market.

Wine Lister- Ella Lister's new 1000 point scale for wine ranking paints the entire picture of a wine. From global demand to liquidity the data provides insight on a wine's value from all angels. A consolidated view of expert opinion along with market insight creates a point scale that gives collectors and the market further data to judge value in the wine.

Everledger- Who doesn't want the gift of Bitcoin this holiday season. Sadly there are lots of wine scrooges out there seeking to sell you something that may not be the real deal. In partnership with Maureen Downey's Everledger creates a ledger of perfect provenance for tracking wine ownership from winery to cellar helping prevent fraud.

For the wine lover who can't get enough of gadgets, check these wine toys out.


Plum- Two bottles, perfect pour. Plum is the first on demand personal wine machine. Just put your two favorite bottles in the Plum dispenser and for up to 90 days you can enjoy the perfect glass of white or red. Regulated temperature as well as inert gas ensures the wine is not oxidized and enjoyed over time.

Kuvee - These tech wired wine bottles, complete with information screen, will educate the consumer on its merits while being enjoyed for up to 30 days. As part of the Kuvee Club enjoy wines over time with no rush to finish a bottle due to exposure to oxygen.

Coravin- By piercing the cork with a needle while simultaneously injecting inert Argon gas, Coravin allows one to taste a glass of wine from the bottle without ever having to pop a cork. Bottles can last for years and you can enjoy the wine as it evolves over time. The perfect gift for the collector who wants to experience their wine over a month or years.

Whether it is software or hardware I think it is safe to say wine is hot. The market is growing and consumers want transparency and a better understanding of the product. Wine has more UPCs than any other consumer product and more than ever is becoming part of a mass market. Differentiated product requires either more knowledge to engage with the product or a gadget to make it more fun. The joy of wine is in the variability and experience it gives you. If software and gadgets can make wine more educational, manageable and enjoyable than I say bring it on.

Feel free to reach out for advice on gifts or wine for the wine lover in your life.

Happy Holidays!