Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Domaine Bernhard & Reibel Sylvaner 2010

If I told you the grape variety that had made the most impression on me during last year's trip to Alsace was sylvaner you'd probably say I was nuts. Maybe, but it struck me as crazy that Alsace producers don't do more to promote their perfect introductory wine, a variety that they could call their own. It could be Alsace's answer to grüner veltliner.

The very charming PR for the CIVA, Foulques Aulagnon obviously thought I was slightly bonkers too but indulged my eccentricity by sending me a case of six sylvaners to try at the end of last year. Most have been enjoyable but the one we had last night from Domaine Bernhard & Reibel was in a different league - a crisp, fruity wine with a lovely lingering minerality.

I have to admit it gave me no small pleasure to discover the domaine was certified organic and follows biodynamic practices.

It's an indication of how little people rate sylvaner that you can't find it in the UK but only the domaine's riesling (from Stone, Vine & Sun). Maybe - who knows - this will make SVS think about bringing over a bit of sylvaner too. It's the perfect summer aperitif and great with delicately spiced food.


  1. You are absolutely right, Fiona, some great Sylvaner is to be had in Alsace.
    Did you know Grand Cru Zotzenberg (Mittelbergheim) has been entitled for some years now to claim GC status for this variety, as a noteworthy exception ? I’m a fan of this pretty little village, its (very) good producers and the splendid Wistub Gilg (was there again overnight last month) with good value accomodation, outstanding regional food and comprehensive wine list.
    But, on the other hand, I’m afraid our Vosgean friends couldn’t claim it “their own”: in Franconia, it is paramount and of far superior quality (on average of course, if you except Alsace’s 5 or 6 top growers), partly because the Prädikät law system doesn’t allow chaptalisation. In Rheinhessen, although not so brilliant, it is cultivated in larger amounts.

  2. And you are right, Luc. But I think the Alsaciens could probably get away with it as very few people have heard of Franconia. I did know there was a Grand Cru but haven't tried it. However I think part of Sylvaner's charm is in its simplicity