Every year, Ostertag’s Sylvaner is one of my favorite go-to wines for a delicious, versatile, dry white, in that category between everyday and special occasion. It is also a perennial favorite of my dear longtime colleague in wholesale, Steve Ledbetter, who has very discerning taste. This wine is biodynamic, which you could say goes several steps beyond organic in terms of being in tune with nature. Beautiful aroma, silky mouthfeel, fresh with old-vine weight, interesting, and downright delicious.
“Jardins” are the Ostertag “gardens,” small plots of vines scattered around their home and cellars in Epfig, in the Bas-Rhin section of northern Alsace. They are pampered just like gardens, and the resulting series of wines displays a purity of expression that is one of the signatures of the house style. All Ostertag Pinot Gris are vinified dry, in barrel, and encourage an incredible range of options at table, especially when a wine with a bit of extra weight and less acidity is called for.
When Jean Boxler came to New York City a few years ago, we were all excited to take him to a lunch with clients at a little dive Chinese restaurant for pork buns and other treats that seemed tailor-made for his Rieslings and Pinot Gris bottlings. The most delicious touch was reserved for dessert, however: a chilled bowl of peeled lychee fruit along with, you guessed it. The rose petal perfume of this ravishing Gewurztraminer enveloped the entire table, and was the perfect way to end a perfect meal. From his vines planted in limestone (Boland and Heimbourg crus of Turckheim), Boxler’s Réserve bottling always has great acidity and an ethereal quality that makes it one of the most noble bottlings of this grape in the world.
Brand is an imposing grand cru, standing steep and proud above the town of Turckheim, exposed due south and planted in pure granite. Hot stone is a theme in this wine, not unlike Rangen, although less peaty, and similar in style to Ostertag’s Heissenberg terroir, if you are familiar with that wine. Brand is Boxler’s most powerful Riesling—deeply flavored, colored, and structured, built to age. These vines work hard to make a living, and the intensity of that struggle shines through magnanimously.
Eichberg is a grand cru of clay and limestone (similar to the terroir in Burgundy), below the hilltop town of Husseren-les-Châteaux, where the historic Kuentz-Bas estate has produced fine wine since 1795. Eichberg is also known for powerful wines, but in a different way than Brand. Here the vines have more soil to dig their roots into, and the wines are lavish, plump, and comfortable, as if the vines have never suffered a day in their lives. You’ll want to pair this with a roast chicken or duck, or grilled sausages, when you are in the mood to forego a red with the main course.
Félix Meyer has heavily invested in a future growing more Pinot Noir in Alsace, purchasing vineyards and planting vines in some of the best terroirs in the region for the grape. He has always been forward-thinking with his business, and always right. Gallus, grown in the sandstone marl of the grand cru Kaefferkopf, has a grainy texture and a lightness on its feet that his other more powerful and structured Pinots grown in limestone do not possess—due to the soil, of course. It has been a favorite of mine since the very first bottling.
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