The Alsatian vineyard is rather modest in size, but exceptional in its geological diversity. Here, the terroir, far from being a figment of the imagination, is at the heart of the winegrower's discourse.
The strip of land of a hundred kilometers which constitutes the Alsatian vineyard follows the course of the Rhine ditch. This huge subsidence that occurred about 30 million years ago is bordered to the east by the Black Forest and to the west by the Vosges massif. The hills under the Vosges – which are home to most of the regional vineyards – and the plain of Alsace are also separated by two major faults, as well as a series of minor faults which cross the hills under the Vosges.
< p>Together, all these faults have created one of the most complex geological mosaics in France. The Alsatian vines thus have their roots in a very varied playground, rich in 13 geological formations, which often overlap on the same plot. The grand cru Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr alone has no less than five!
Each soil has its favorite grape variety, but of all, Riesling is undoubtedly the one that conveys the “taste of the place” with the most clarity and transparency. And without sugar, especially! Because, it should be remembered, unlike those from Germany, Alsatian Rieslings are almost always dry, if not extremely dry. This is how we like them, in all their variations of terroir and in all circumstances.
The Hugel family signs a range of classic wines, at all levels of the pyramid. Their entry-level Riesling, half made from purchased grapes, is impeccable in 2020. Scents of chamomile, mint and Anjou pear; clean, fine and straight.
This family estate in Andlau is managed with rigor and dynamism by Pierre Wach and his spouse, Quebecer Jessica Ouellet. The grapes that make up this Riesling come from the decomposed pink sandstone terroir of the place called Wiebelsberg. The 2021 first opens with lemony notes typical of the grape variety, then evolves towards subtle floral nuances; fresh on the palate, with just enough volume for the table.
The Engelberg (hill of the angels) dominates the village of Dahlenheim, west of Strasbourg. Pfister's Riesling Berg is the result of a blend of four parcels located on the side of a hill, on limestone. The 2019 is full of aromas of candied pineapple, honey and beeswax; the palate offers structure and tension, as wide as it is long; solid yet airy, with a chalky lime blossom and russet apple finish.
Jean-Louis Trapet is a winegrower in Burgundy; his wife, Andrée, grew up in Riquewihr, Alsace. In 2003, they took over the ancestral vineyard which they have since cultivated biodynamically. Their son, Pierre, now signs a precise and chiseled Riesling, from different terroirs of Riquewihr. The sandstone and granite bring tension, salinity and grain, while the marl terroirs nourish the mid-palate. An excellent textured, vibrant, full and complex white wine. Pleasure guaranteed!
The hillside of Côte de Rouffach, one of the 11 communal appellations of Alsace, benefits from exceptional sunshine, in addition to be protected from bad weather by the Vosges. The 2018 from Thomas and Véronique Muré reveals the tension specific to Riesling on limestone: straight, structured and sharp, with a certain volume and generous flavors of white peach, lemon zest and sage. Fine bitterness and saline finish, cut for oysters.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128