Domaine Weinbach, Muscat Reserve, 2004

There's a bit I like in hip-hop classic Entroducing D.J. Shadow where Shadow samples a somewhat dorky sounding music teacher who says "I'm a teacher of the drums, but I'm also a student of the drums". I enjoy the moment because I know the feeling. That of being a student, I mean. Of my various hobbies, wine and music give me the greatest intellectual pleasures because they (still) make me feel I'm actively learning new things.

That's why on trips abroad I try to buy at least one wine that expands my horizons. A joker, an oddball. Something to befuddle friends with. On a recent trip to Paris, the Weinbach Muscat Reserve 2004 was it.

I'd read Weinbach is a very good domaine and I was debating whether to buy one of their Gewurztraminer cuvees offered at one particular store but I was dubious about the vintages in stock and finally decided that - since I'd already tasted Alsace Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, albeit much too few - it was time to try Alsace's fourth 'trademark' varietal.

According to the Weinbach site, this wine is sourced mostly from their Clos des Capucins monopole, which I'm not sure is a part of their grand cru holdings but does supply fruit to the domaine's premium cuvee. And that's it for the background spiel. Now for the wine.

The kindest thing I could say is I don't know what to make of it. The textbook on Alsace Muscat says it's a fruity, "drink close to purchase" wine. The wine I had this evening was no example of the former but arguably proves the latter. On both nose and palate, it is very minerally and peppery, which is good, good, but only if it's backed up by fruit. But insofar as the wine opens over the course of the evening, there is so little fruit the 13% alcohol shoots straight to the fore as though it was a much more alcoholic wine. I can't really tell whether I opened it a year too late or a few too early, but tonight, this particular bottle was a depressing experience. Probably one I wouldn't even be able to rightfully chalk up as an educational experience.

Overpriced for the 25+ euros I paid for it and not available locally.