Tag Archives: Josmeyer

How do you like your Riesling?

Max and I attended a seminar recently. The theme was how different soils affect the wine. Very interesting. Chablis was one of the examples, where the Kimmeridge clay of the best vineyards give wines that distinctively differs to the ones made from soils based on Portlandian soil. Both calcareous, but so different.

We compared a Petit Chablis with a Première Cru, both from the cooperative La Chablisienne. The first was nice, but rather one dimensional in its citrus freshness.  The latter with more body and pronounced notes of butter scotch in addition to the citrus and yellow apples. Fresh, but with so much more complexity and a rich buttery texture. Concentrated and very long.

Riesling is another grape that clearly reflects the type of soil. To our great delight this was illustrated on the tasting by some Alsatian wines. As profound fans of this lovely French region, we always enjoy to have some of its exquisite liquid in our glasses.

As the geology of Alsace is so varied, there are quite different soils found among the 51 Grand Cru vineyards. Marl and limestone is rather frequent, e.g. the Furstentum, Altenberg de Bergheim and Mambourg, while granite is found in Brand and Schlossberg.

There is in fact even one Grand Cru with shale, the Kastelberg in Andlau. These Rieslings are said to have a bit of musk aroma, even though we not have had the opportunity to try by ourselves. Would have been interesting to taste and see if there is any truth behind that suggestion.

Back to the main question. What can the soil do to the Riesling? Well, Max and I learnt that when it is grown on granite it will be fruitier. Limestone and marl will give less fruity wines, but the calcareous ground is on the other hand said to bring out more power.

Josmeyer’s Grand Cru from Hengst is an example of the limestone based Riesling. Rich, full bodied and with more power than the one made of grapes from their granite Brand vineyard.

Paul Blanck gives us another interesting example. The Furstentum, calcareuous, to be compared with the Schlossberg, granite. The latter has however in the 2008 a rather restrained fruitiness. There is an elegant minerality, not found in the Furstentum, which has a more floral appearance.

The conclusion; Alsace Riesling Grand Cru can differ considerably from each other, but the renowned producers never make us disappointed.

From asparagus to the outstanding Josmeyer wines

Asparagus was on the menu. What wine should I choose? Some say it is hard to find a suitable wine, as the asparagus’ oxalic acid, umami and bitter substances are problematic for wine. But it all depends on cooking method and what they are served together with. Salt, butter or olive oil and some flakes of parmesan will make it a straightforward and delicious dish. And at the same time wine friendly. As for the wine, Pinot Blanc from Alsace will be a safe bet.

So what has this to do with Domaine Josmeyer? Well, the asparagus made me think about when I visited the domain in Wintzenheim some years ago. Among their many fabulous wines was one that particularly was highlighted as the best companion to asparagus; Les Lutins Pinot Blanc.

As is usual in Alsace the Pinot Blanc is blended with some Auxerrois. To Les Lutins the grapes are hand picked, gently pressed and fermented with its natural yeast and then just a light filtering. The result, a lovely wine, lightly perfumed with minerality, nice acidity and good length.

Domaine Josmeyer is really one of the top producers in Alsace. Terroir-driven wines made with minimal intervention. The winemaker, a woman of the Meyer family.

The domain dates back to 1854 when it was started by Jean Meyer’s great grandfather. Jean Meyer, who brought the domain’s development a great step forward when he decided to convert it to organic culture in 2000.

Today it is the daughters of Jean Meyer who is in charge of the winery, together with Christophe Ehrhart as responsible for the bio-dynamically treated vineyards. Céline Meyer is the Managing Director and responsible for the public relations and administration. Isabelle Meyer, trained in viticulture and oenology, is in charge of the vinification.

Isabelle, Céline and Christophe, that is a trio brings out the best of Alsace in Josmeyer’s wines.  I guess that considerably more well-known than the Pinot Blanc I mentioned, are their great Rieslings from the grand crus Hengst and Brand.

All wines are made to express their birthplace, the terroir of each vineyard. Great grapes are the starting point. Then only indigenous yeast, no chaptalisation, no enzymes. The initial phase of the fermentation takes place in tanks with temperature control. Then the must is transferred to 100 year old, very large (1000-6000 litres) wooden casks to complete the fermentation and, after a racking, be kept there on the lees till the time for bottling comes.

An interesting, and for Alsace unusual practice, is the artistic labels for some of their wines. Jean Meyer started this tradition in 1987. A selected artist, always connected to Alsace, visualises the impression of the wine on the label. Since the start, eleven artists have contributed with their art work to the Josmeyer labels. 

Céline, who has studied both art and literature, continues this tradition and has created the new wine range “The Great Travellers” inspired by the colourful art work by Daniel Viene. Aero planes are one of Daniel’s motifs and Céline associates these to Josmeyer’s wines. They too have wings. Wings that lift the wines to higher and higher altitudes, to the pleasure and delight of all wine lovers. 

PS. Noticed Jancis Robinson‘s award to Domaine Josmeyer as being one of the “Natural Heroes” at London’s natural fairs a couple of weeks ago. A well-deserved honour.

A shared obsession with petrol

We share a passion, Max and I. A passion for the substance with the too long name, 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene. Fortunately, the nickname is shorter; TDN. Prefer the latter. 

“Rich fruit, lemon and a lot of petrol. Medium bodied, distinct acidity, concentrated, lemon, petrol, some honey, good length.”  Max analysed the wine in his glass and continued, “Will continue to develop nicely over the next ten years I guess. And that magnificent petroleum. Great wine!” 

Max had shut his eyes, delighted. There was a big smile on his face. I had nothing to add to his account. Just nodding. 

The wine was a Hugel Jubilée Riesling 2007. A good choice for illustrating the petrol character often found in Alsacian Riesling. 

We were sitting in Max kitchen. He had phoned me some days before and asked me to come over. He wanted to try a few wines before a tasting. Max is always so thorough in his preparations, at least when it comes to wine. 

We both love great Riesling. Preferably a few years old, with an evolved nose of petrol. Often the great ones, the ones with a distinct petrol character, origin from Alsace. 

Isn’t it strange that some people think TDN is a fault? We love it. Are obsessed with it. Look for the bottles with potential, put them in the cellar and wait, wait, wait. Ten years later, or more, we get a great reward.

Luckily for us, there are many distinguished producers in Alsace.

Alsacian vineyard (Gustave Lorentz).

One favourite , which we often return to, is the Altenberg de Bergheim from Gustave Lorentz.

Marcel Deiss, Josmeyer and Trimbach are also on the top list. But there are many more.

Longing for the next visit…