Le Moche: our unlikely cult wine

Le Moche: our unlikely cult wine

You know something unusual is going on when visitors to Colmar Estate throw open the door and say ‘We’ve come for Le Moche’ This happened twice in one day! When we produced our first Le Moche in 2015, we never really expected that one day people would be beating a path to our cellar door to buy it.

The inspiration for Le Moche comes from the edelzwicker wines of Alsace, that gorgeous region in the north-east corner of France. Edelzwicker means noble blend, a blend of the three noble white varieties of the region – riesling, pinot gris and gewurztraminer. We just happen to have these three varieties in our vineyard.

Blended white wines aren’t all that common in Australia – most quality white wines are made from a single grape variety. But in Europe, blending of grape varieties is much more common, partly as a result of history and also because of a philosophy that the sum of a blend can be greater than the parts. There are plenty of examples. Most Champagnes are blends, usually of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. White wines from the Rhone Valley may be blends of viognier, marsanne and roussanne. The red wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley take the cake when it comes to blending as they may contain up to 13 different grape varieties, some of which are white!

So, blending grape varieties is not really a novel thing to do; it’s just less common in Australia than in the Old World. The opportunity that blending provides is to create flavours, aromas and structures that are different to single-variety wines. It’s hard to imagine two white varieties more different than riesling and gewurztraminer, the former producing fine wines with lemony, limely flavours and tight acidity, the latter giving wines that are broader and softer, with a big aroma akin to lychees and Turkish Delight. Maybe that’s why they blend so well, each complementing the other.

In another nod to the wines of Alsace we leave Le Moche off-dry, that is, slightly sweet. Australia has a long tradition of dry white wines – dry riesling, dry semillon, dry sauv blanc, dry chardonnay – dry everything. White wines with any sweetness are usually super-sweet dessert wines, but there is little in between. Again, the European experience is quite different, with many of the great wines from Alsace, Austria and the Rhine and Mosel Valleys carrying a touch of sweetness to balance the crisp natural acidity in the wines of these cooler regions.

The bonus that comes with the off-dry style of Le Moche is how well the wine goes with the spicy Asian cuisine that Australians like so much, the touch of sweetness serving to take the edge off chili. And it’s our first choice with a curry.

We often get asked about origin of the name Le Moche. Well, it’s the rather unflattering nickname that the vineyard workers in Alsace give to gewurztraminer. But what does it mean?