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Wine of the Week

Amplus Applause

Had I tasted this wine blind, I would have pegged it as an extremely polished pinot noir from Oregon, and I wouldn't have been far wrong, at least stylistically. Geographically … well, that's a different story, because this fruit-filled gem hails from 7,000 miles further east—in Alsace.

When people think of Alsatian wines, which they don't do nearly often enough, they think of whites, such as gewürztraminer, pinot gris, and riesling. In doing so they miss out on one of the best-kept secrets of the wine world, Alsatian pinot noirs.

This week's Wine of the Week, the Lucien Albrecht Amplus Pinot Noir 2005 ($52), is a glowing example of just what fine, if underappreciated, wines they are.

Its wonder, as with all great pinot noirs, is the way it melds the seductive power of ripe fruits, such as strawberries and red cherries, with a racy, laser-fine acidity and a generous helping of robust heartiness, all in one glass. Many non-Burgundian pinots manage the first of these tricks but miss the rest of the package. Not the Amplus. It's all balance, depth, and nuanced, viniferous harmony. And with fall coming on, it is the perfect wine to think about drinking with a roast chicken or a leg of lamb.

When to Drink: Now

Breathing/Decanting: Half an hour

Food Pairing: Leg or rack of lamb, roast chicken, pheasant, grouse or duck; sweetbreads

Grapes: 100 percent pinot noir

Appellation: Alsace

Region: Alsace

Country: France

Price: $52

Availability: Limited

Web Site:

Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

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