Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling is an old favourite but this is rather mature

CFE was the first fine wine I tasted – when I was nine I tried the 1979 vintage and commented, “Wow, wine can taste of so many things.” So even back then my pronouncements on wine were correct. Given my decades of happy experiences with this wine I was rather enthused when it was intimated we pop one from the great 2002 vintage.

However, now I’ve tasted it I am a tiny bit worried about its stage of evolution, even though it has been impeccably stored since its purchase. I have the feeling that cellar temperatures in Alsace have increased in recent years, I seem to recall that winters there have been less bitterly cold than once they were. They have certainly experienced some warm summers of late. Could its initial elevage in a slightly warmer environment result in accelerated ageing of the wine? Do enlighten me if I’m talking a poxy load of pants.

David brandishing a bottle of Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2002 from Trimbach

Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2002, F E Trimbach

This is really rather mineral on the nose, a wonderful and impressively complex rich earthiness that pleases me no end. What does not please me is the distinct note of slightly dirty, baked-apple oxidation. There is also more petrol character here than I would expect from an eight year old CFE. This smells distinctly forward; it is still complex and interesting to the Rieslingophile, but indubitably forward. Wow, love the acidity; it slices through all the other characters on the palate like a nutcase who drops in on his Member of Parliament armed with a sword. I’m a much less petrifying type of loony. There is the kind of citrus fruit you’d hope for with a Riesling, and it fizzes with sophisticated stoniness, but again there is that worrying character of slight oxidation. I really don’t expect what is, as far as previous vintages have shown, quite a young CFE from a top-drawer vintage to need drinking up as exigently as this bottle does. Sure, it is sophisticated and shows definite style, but we shouldn’t be in a position of needing to drink this for many years to come – I’ve recently had 1995s and 1996s that have shown less development. If you have some I’d suggest giving a bottle a try – it might just be this bottle, even though it has been carefully stored since it was purchased direct from Trimbach, but you would be wise to check.


  • Ian Black wrote:

    That’s a bit of a worry. I haven’t picked up on any concerns elsewhere about this, so I guess it may just be a poor bottle. I certainly hope so as I love CFE. Perhaps a too-porous cork?

    Which reminds me that corks have been a bit of a weak point of Trimbach wines in the past, though usually that’s more to do with the wines being corked.

  • David Strange wrote:

    Hi Ian,

    I rather hope it was just a dodgy bottle, but as I’ve heard quite a bit about premox with CSH so I am somewhat worried about my remaining CFE and precious few CSH bottles. I’m opening my last CSH VT Hors Choix 1989 this winter; previous encounters with this wine have made me think it is the greatest dry wine I’ve ever tasted so if it is oxidised I’ll be inconsolably distraught.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Guy Dennis wrote:

    It has to be said that you look remarkably fit in this picture!

  • David Strange wrote:

    Oh you charmer, Guy!

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