Sunday, June 5, 2011

Off to Alsace . . .

Today we're off to Alsace, a visit I'm particularly excited about as it includes a disproportionate amount of organic and biodynamic winemakers. It'll be interesting to see how that's come about and find out more about the new 'Charte Vin Bio d'Alsace' an ambitious attempt to lay down detailed groundrules for the region's organic winemakers. There does seem to be a tipping point in wine regions where natural - or reasonably natural winemaking becomes the norm. It will be fascinating to see what the prevailing attitude is on sulphur.

In the meantime here's a bottle from a producer we haven't managed to fit in to our schedule (all credit to the CIVA for acceding to so many of our requests. It's a sensitive issue for wine promotion bodies who have to keep everyone happy.)

It's the 2008 Kaefferkopf L’Originel from Audrey & Christian Binner (13.5%) - original indeed because it's a blend of gewurztraminer, riesling and muscat, something that's not usually permitted in a grand cru. [Kaefferkopf is one of only two grand crus in which it's permitted - have amended this in the light of Luc's comments below and my own clearer understanding of the rules having spent a few days Alsace!). The grapes are fermented together in 100 year old foudres using natural yeasts and the Binners employ biodynamic treatments and phytotherapie (treatment with plant extracts) in their vineyards. You can see a more detailed write up of their approach here.

More to the point it's a joy to drink - aromatic, as you'd expect, very pure and deliciously fruity. It would of course go with food - I reckon it would be great with Thai - but it's the perfect wine to sit and sip on a summer's evening. Of which I hope we might have a few while we're away though I can't say I'm encouraged by the metéo which seems to be forecasting heavy, thundery showers for the majority of the week :-(


  1. If I’m not mistaken, Fiona, blending practice such as the one you describe is allowed in Grand Cru appelation for 2 “lieux-dits”: Kaefferkopf in Ammerschwihr and Bergheim’s Altenberg. Otherwise, Grand Cru status demands a varietal wine and the mention of the variety. So, in your “Originel”, a mixture of Gewurz, Riesling and Muscat is perfectly legal and totally in line with the local practice. Mixing varieties has a long tradition in Alsace, where it used to be called the “vin gentil”.

  2. I think you're absolutely right, Luc and expressed far more lucidly than I did in my rather hurried post!