Visiting Domaine Ostertag these days, you could easily run into all three generations, aged 87 to 27, currently active at the estate. Three generations may inhabit the vines and the spirit of the place, yet only the youngest, Arthur, carries the keys to the highway. The older generations provide assistance and reassurance, while Arthur runs the show, fully and independently. Arthur’s father, André, saw many local families keep their children at bay, encouraging them to spend time roaming the wineries and vineyards of the New World, and inviting them back to the domaine once they sowed their wild oats, so to speak. They returned home, calm, docile, and ready to maintain things the way they were. André, however, wanted none of that for his own son. He wanted Arthur to come to the domaine full of unbridled energy and youthful fire, to shake things up and push things around. Fire is what you will find in these 2018s, Arthur’s first vintage at the helm. The Les Jardins cuvées, from small “garden” plots around the village, taste bright and alive, like garden-fresh produce should. The Pinot Blanc is surprisingly dense and savory with a warm and enveloping crystalline texture, while the Pinot Gris has layers of taste and an elegantly long, dry, and bitter finish. The Riesling Clos Mathis is the ager of this bunch, built to last, a classic and noble Riesling that probably excites all three generations of Ostertag. The true name of the vineyard from which this is grown is Hagel, which is Alsatian for “hail.” But to avoid putting the dreaded H-word (like a bad omen) on the label, the Ostertags long ago named this cuvée after their vineyard manager, Hubert Mathis, who owns this parcel. A classy tip of the hat from the Ostertag family.
“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.
From the Ostertags’ sole granite vineyard in Ribeauvillé, Clos Mathis is a sculpted thoroughbred of stone and citrus, destined for a promising life in the cellars of those so inclined to grab their share of the ten cases imported into California.
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