Marc Beyer
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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In Marc Beyer absence, I tasted this year with his father Leon, who has been involved in winemaking at this firm since the 1940s. Beyer Senior described the 2000 vintage as riper, rounder and more elegant than 1999, with better fruit if often somewhat low acidity. "The '99s are tighter and less rich," he added. Beyer told me that the rieslings are especially pleasant in 2000, but for me the gewurztraminers were, once again, the stars of the cellar in the new vintage. My tasting concluded with an extraordinary series of late-harvest gewurztraminers from the 1998 vintage. A word to those unfamiliar with the style of this house: expect wines dryer than the norm in every category. (Remy Amerique, New York, NY; Martine's Wines, Novato, CA)

2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Pinot Blanc de Blanc

Brisk aromas of citrus peel and fresh herbs. Very dry, juicy and penetrating, but pliant rather than hard. Moderately ripe, slightly herbal flavors.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling

Aromas slightly dulled by a suggestion of old barrel. Then juicy and vibrant in the mouth, with lemon and mineral flavors and a faint metallic quality. Bracing and fairly persistent on the back end.


1999 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling

Nose hints at mirabelle. Quite dry and firm but supple and ready to drink.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling Reserve

Aromas of spring flowers and citrus fruits. Thoroughly dry but a bit fleshier and considerably longer than the basic riesling. Attractive flavors of lemon and white flowers. Finishes firm and brisk.


1999 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling Reserve

Slightly metallic aromas of smoke and minerals. Supple, fat and rather elegantly styled; more open than the '00 but firmed by its underlying mineral element. Harmonious and persistent.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling Les Ecaillers

Reserved, saline aromas of lime, minerals and oyster shell. Firm, bracing flavors of lime, mint and powdered stone. Tactile and fairly deep. Best today on the long, minerally finish.


1999 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling Les Ecaillers

Ripe aromas of apple, earth and minerals; less pristine than the '00. Fatter, sweeter and richer than the 2000, but ultimately rather austere and in need of another year or so of bottle aging. This has very firm spine.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris Comtes d'Eguisheim

Vibrant, cool aromas of minerals and mint. Dense, rich and extremely primary; lots of material here. Classic dry riesling, with excellent depth and persistence.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Riesling Comtes d'Eguisheim

Rounder and fatter than the #1, seemingly with lower acidity and a bit less flavor precision. But also quite unevolved, and a bit hard to view today.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris

Aromas of pear, dried fruits, smoke, butter and herbs. Good flavor intensity and sound supporting acidity; fairly rich for a basic pinot gris. Finishes firm and persistent.


1999 Domaine Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris Reserve

Somewhat advanced aromas of apple, smoke, cut grass and resin, but fresher than the basic '99 tokay. Sweeter and riper in the mouth, with a flavor dominated by apple. Finishes slightly narrow but with good persistence.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris Comtes d'Eguisheim

Subtle, pure aromas of pear, apple, apricot, smoke, spice and butter. Fat, full and stuffed with fruit; rich and fat but kept firm and fresh by harmonious balancing acidity. Finishes very long and ripe. Potentially excellent for this cuvee


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive

Dried fruits on the nose. Moderately sweet, intensely flavored and quite penetrating, with lovely tangy, spicy flavors of peach and apricot. Very long, palate-staining aftertaste. From a smaller crop than the previous year, according to Beyer, and the concentration shows.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer

Perfumed aromas of cinnamon and flowers. Dry and lively, with modest texture and good spicy character. Competent dry gewurztraminer for easy drinking. Finishes with a trace of heat.


1999 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Reserve

Spicy aromas of grapefruit, lemon and lichee. Quite dry and solidly structured but also round and supple. Traditionally styled, dinner-table gewurztraminer with substantial palate presence and fat; "our best gewurztraminer in '99," notes Beyer.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Comtes d'Eguisheim

Pure aromas of yellow plum, rose petal, lichee and curry powder; real essence of gewurztraminer here. Very rich and ripe, with terrific depth of fruit and layered texture. The wine sweetness comes from sheer ripeness and substantial alcohol, as there's less than five grams per liter of residual sugar. Lovely harmonious acidity. Finishes very long and rich, with a repeating flavor of yellow plum. This may prove to be the best vintage for this bottling since 1990.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives

Reticent, slightly reduced nose hints at mirabelle and char. Medium-sweet, but much less open and expressive than the Comtes d'Eguisheim. Initially, I sensed structure more than flavor, but with aeration this sample revealed notes of yellow plum, crystallized lemon peel and spice. Finishes with excellent persistence. Somewhat disjointed today but appears to have all the elements to make an outstanding bottle.


2000 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles

Quite reticent on the nose. Superripe and very sweet (80 grams per liter of residual sugar), but not particularly viscous for SGN. Strong acidity contributes to the impression of structure. Finishes very long, with penetrating, pure fruit and a floral nuance. Showing better today than the gewurztraminer VT. In fact, Beyer noted that a good bit of this juice will ultimately be used to improve the VT.


1998 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives

Cool, liqueur-like aromas of mirabelle and white raisin, along with a resiny nuance. Very sweet and very concentrated; a somewhat high-toned, liqueur-like style of gewurztraminer, with viscous texture leavened by sound acids. Very rich and very long.


1998 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles

Roasted meal and honey on the nose. Supersweet and impressively deep; highly concentrated fruit is framed and carried by penetrating acidity. A huge, thick wine that expands to fill the mouth. Real SGN weight and concentration of acids. Finishes extremely long and impressively pure.


1998 Domaine Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer Comtes d'Eguisheim Selection de Grains Noble

Pure, heavily botrytized aromas of tangerine, orange peel, quince, apricot and honey. Incredibly sweet and unctuous; as chewy as a solid. Great honeyed botrytis character. An amazingly powerful sweet wine with a finish that goes on and on and on. "This may be our best SGN ever," says Beyer, who has more than a half-century of vintages as context.

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