Pinot Blanc, rare and exciting in Burgundy, its homeland, sometimes comes off as a bit ordinary and yawn-inducing to many in Alsace. There, where it is often over-cropped and planted in ill-suited terrain, bottlings can be bland. In contrast, the Ostertags long ago took to working their six small Pinot Blanc plots—or “gardens,” as they refer to them—biodynamically and by hand. Plus, in a nod to the grape’s Burgundian roots, they ferment and raise their Pinot Blanc in old barrels sourced from friends in the Côte d’Or. The result is, well, rare and exciting, to say the least. Floral and peach aromas give way to a rich, mouthwatering structure. Best to drink it now, given its vibrancy.
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.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
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