2016 will go down in history as an as unusual year, particularly concerning the staggering of the harvest from mid-September until the beginning of November in most Alsatian vineyards. This made it one of the longest harvesting campaigns of recent years and certain producers delayed picking until, wait for it, January 2017 so as to try and produce some late harvest wine in a less than ideal year.
After a very humid Spring and a hot start to the Summer, the drought during August meant that some winemakers suffered water stress which affected grape ripeness, particularly in Rieslings. However, thanks to an Indian summer during crucial periods the overall health and condition of the grapes were good. Throughout most of Alsace, it is without doubt the Pinot Gris that has had the most success, producing rich, well balanced wines with good structure and acidity. The other Pinots (Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc) come in just below the Pinot Gris but are nonetheless of a good standard, as are the wines made from Sylvaner. The Muscats are also of a good standard with crisp fruit flavours but sometimes lack a bit of body. The Gewurtztraminers are perhaps a bit more unremarkable this year and lack some acidity. For once, it is the Rieslings that have suffered the most from under ripeness and it is the domains producing organic wines have come out of this the best. Some other interesting points to note from Alsace are that the crémants made from Pinot Blanc will be of a very good standard this year while late harvest wines won’t be so great, with many domains deciding not to produce a 2016 cuvée. If they do it will not have much aromatic intensity.