Muenchberg is a glorious hidden mountain in northern Alsace, off the beaten track, with a gentle slope and mystical air about it (they don’t call it Monk’s Mountain for nothing). Nobody has worked more tirelessly to make the terroir famous than André Ostertag. He consistently provides fireworks in the bottle and an aging potential that rivals any dry Riesling in Alsace. It is a sure buy every year. Certainly you shouldn’t miss the 2014, one of the greatest Alsatian Riesling vintages in memory. If you want to smell and taste terroir, start here. –Dixon Brooke
1.7 ha; From the Alsatian “muench” meaning monk, this vineyard is named for the Cistercian monks who originally planted vines here in the 11th-12th centuries. In a south-facing amphitheater in Nothalten at the foot of the Vosges mountains, the Muenchberg site combines volcanic sediment and the pink sandstone of the Vosges with a touch of limestone.
To call André Ostertag a revolutionary winemaker is to tell just half the story. He is a pioneer, certainly, but also an ardent environmentalist. After training in Burgundy, André returned to the family domaine in Alsace with renewed zeal: he lowered yields considerably and introduced viticultural and vinification techniques from other regions to his own home ground. He looks for the nuance of terroir rather than the typicity of a grape varietal. André rejects formulaic, scientifically engineered wines, and since going biodynamic in 1997, has been an active member of the natural farming community.
Tragically, Alsace might be the most misunderstood wine region of France. In spite of its long history of viticulture and tremendous diversity of pedigreed terroirs, a past fraught with marketing mishaps has left consumers baffled as to what exactly to expect inside one of these mysterious tall, thin bottles.
The good news, on the other hand, is that a new wave of quality-oriented growers is working hard to put Alsace in its rightful place as one of the world’s most fascinating sources of fine white wine. By embracing tradition, respecting terroir, and making a concerted effort to better communicate the countless virtues their wines have to offer, they have succeeded in putting Alsace back on the map.
Crafted from a number of grape varieties and beautifully interpreting the region’s mosaic of soil types, our Alsace imports are by and large dry whites offering exceptional versatility at table. While each of these selections is ready to be uncorked tonight, the finest among them are also capable of maturing for many, many years in a cool cellar. Expect kaleidoscopic aromatics, lively acidities, and loads of terroir transparency in these skillfully crafted masterpieces. Enjoy a foray into the thrilling world of the world’s most underrated wine region, and certainly do not hesitate to contact our sales staff with any questions as you take off on this mouth-watering adventure.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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