It is over four years since our last Alsace offer – far too long! This region has long been a favourite of ours, and last autumn it was a pleasure to revisit the pretty village of Katzenthal, which lies at the base of beautiful sloping vineyards of the Vosges mountains.
Domaine Meyer Fonné
We have visited the Meyer Fonné family’s vineyard on a number of occasions in the past but been unable to buy their lovely wines due to a lack of availability. We revisit every couple of years, and at different times we have shipped a variety of different examples of Alsace whites at their very best! They have continued to win awards and medals for their wines year after year, and until Autumn 2009 they were represented by the famous English firm of Lay & Wheeler, who have now closed down their agencies.
The vineyard of 12 hectares has been in the same family for three generations and covers 12 communes, which gives them a marvellous palette of terroirs to craft the wines lovingly. The rest of the family all contribute towards the running of the vineyard, and Felix returned to the domaine in 1992 to modernise the equipment, breathing new life into the wines.
They pride themselves on using organic farming, with no use of chemical fertilisers. Over the years Alsace wines have become perceptibly sweeter and a major remit for us has been to find wines with residual sugar kept to a bare minimum. These fit the bill perfectly!
Domaine Meyer Fonné Riesling Réserve 2008
A lovely archetypal citrus/lime nose with hints of aniseed leads into a racy, ripe and concentrated lime/lemon zest fruity mouthful of almost Australian proportions. A dry wine with great minerality and length, that cries out for shellfish or fish.
Clément Klür is an outstanding grower at Vignoble Klur in the same village of Katzenthal. The family vineyard of only 7 hectares has been established since 1600.
Clément trained in oenology at the University of Beaune and since 1995 he has been practising organic methods in the vineyard, which culminated in 2000 to a full conversion to Biodynamic method. This places total emphasis on respecting the soil, the plant and the fruit, while taking great care with the culture of the grapes and vinification of the wine, without the addition of any chemicals.
More controversially it pays special attention to the special rhythms of the earth and universe. Whatever the reason, the ultimate results are truly superb – lower yields and healthier grapes, leading to greater purity of fruit, concentration, expression of terroir and freshness.
Domaine Klür Riesling Katz 2004
This has a classic floral nose, which leads into a concentrated mouthful of ripe Riesling fruit. There is underlying minerality, expressing the terroir of the steep slopes of the vineyard, and a wonderful steely acidity, which underpins the wine. This is an archetypical Alsace Riesling – bursting with grapy flavours, just off-dry, and rapier-sharp acidity at the finish. A wine made for food – either fish, especially shellfish, or creamy chicken dishes would partner this wine perfectly!
Situated in another fairytale village, Hunawihr, Jean-Luc Mader has a 9 hectare vineyard from which we bought a number of wines back in the 1990s. Of all the wines, we felt that his Tokay d’Alsace 1994 could well benefit from ageing, and so as an experiment we laid aside one case in our cellars. What a surprise when we opened it – it tastes as fresh as it was in 1996!
Mader, Tokay d’Alsace 1994
The colour has only a hint of straw, and the wine is fresh, honeyed with some aromatic character and a bitter twist a the finish. Amazing how this has lasted over 20 years in our cellars!