Anne-Laure Helfrich isn’t your typical European winemaker. At 23 years old, she’s probably the youngest person I’ve ever encountered in this business, yet she’s known the wine trade all her life. A third generation beverage-maker (grandpa started with Kirsch and dad moved the family into wine), Helfrich spends much of her time on the road, spreading the news about her family’s brand of wines from France’s Alsace region. I had the good fortune to taste six of Helfrich’s wines over dinner at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine.
Thoughts on the full lineup — three table wines, three grand crus — follow.
2009 Helfrich Riesling Alsace / $15 / B / made in a very dry style, malty and easy
2009 Helfrich Pinot Gris Alsace / $15 / B+ / retains a salmon color from contact with grape skins, left with a strawberry character and slight residual sugar, moderate body, very drinkable
2009 Helfrich Gewurztraminer Alsace / $15 / B / typical Gewurz style, with a rough palate; finish offers melon with floral touches, somewhat restrained
2007 Helfrich Steinklotz Riesling Grand Cru Alsace / $25 / B+ / tart
2008 Helfrich Steinklotz Pinot Gris Grand Cru Alsace / $25 / A- / more balanced than the standard bottling, good sweetness level, peach notes
2008 Helfrich Steinklotz Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Alsace / $25 / B+ / fuller body, but similar to the standard bottling