Ambitious producers like the young Samuel Tottoli at Kuentz-Bas are putting Alsace back on the map after years spent in the shadows due to poor communication and mass production of cheap bulk wine. There is no question, however, that this is one of France’s finest white-wine-producing regions: flanking the eastern side of the Vosges, this dry, sunny landscape is home to a number of soil types where noble grapes like Riesling and Pinot Gris reach dazzling heights. In the picturesque town of Husseren-les Châteaux, Samuel seeks to bring out the best of the local terroir by farming biodynamically and using low-intervention, traditional methods in the cellar. For the domaine’s entry-level Riesling, that means a slow fermentation with indigenous yeasts in ancient oak foudres with full malolactic fermentation. These techniques yield a bright, fleshy, and stony dry white with bountiful exotic fruit and floral nuances. The balance, freshness, and lovely perfume make it a godsend at table.
|Vineyard:||25 - 45 years, 4 ha|
|Soil:||Loess, Silt, Limestone|
|Aging:||Slow fermentation (2-6 months) takes place in oak foudres over 100 years old|
Kuentz-Bas France | Alsace | Alsace Grand Cru
More than two hundred years of tradition and vineyard pedigree have made the wines of Kuentz-Bas perennial favorites. However, when the family sold the property to famed vigneron Jean-Baptiste Adam in 2004, many wondered what direction the new team would take. Adam, like the estates former owners, has a reputation for being an advocate of Alsatian terroir, and he is the fourteenth generation to continue a family winemaking tradition that began as early as 1614. Winemaker Samuel Tottoli puts a strong emphasis on both terroir and accessibility. The wines are more open than ever while still reflecting the unmistakable character of the vineyards that clients have come to expect from Kuentz-Bas.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch