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Domaine Weinbach

Read about Domaine Weinbach
Domaine Weinbach is universally regarded as one of the greatest producers of Alsace and therefore by proxy, one of the greatest ‘aromatic’ Domaines in the world. Yet it is a Domaine that remains incredibly grounded, refreshingly free from overarching self-importance and pomposity, and it is a Domaine that produces an endless stream of wines that are as delicious as they are profound. 

In spite of recent tragedies – the heartbreakingly premature loss of Laurence Faller and then, more recently, the passing of Weinbach’s legendary matriarch, Colette Faller – the quality of wine that has made Weinbach an icon shows no sign of budging an inch. The attention to detail that the Domaine applies to every one of its (many) cuvées still holds a mirror up to the whole of Alsace, bar, of course, a handful of notable addresses. In Laurence Faller’s stead, the ultra-traditional winemaking here – read whole cluster pressing, wild ferments and vinification in ancient, colossal old casks – is now the responsibility of experienced maître di chai, Ghislain Berthiot, while Catherine Faller’s son, vigneron Théo Leiber-Faller, has clearly inherited the Faller passion for the vines, and for biodynamic viticulture. Then, of course, there are the vineyards - some of the most magnificent in Alsace. 

Domaine Weinbach farms 27 hectares of vineyards, predominantly Grand Cru. The most famous terroir is the majestic Schlossberg hill, closely followed by the walled Clos de Capucins; a Weinbach fiefdom that lies around the house and its cellars. But we should not forget the majestic Furstentum Grand Cru which, in the gifted hands of the Faller family, produces some of the world’s most profound Gewürztraminer. The Fallers have farmed organically for some time; however, in the late 1990’s they began the conversion towards biodynamics, a move which was complete in time for the 2005 vintage. Although we started our relationship with the 2006 vintage, we are long time followers of the Domaine. Since bio conversion, we’ve noted a rise in minerality and freshness in the wines, alongside a higher clarity and depth of fruit. The wines have more body, tone and shape too. We like to think you can taste the strength and passion of the new Faller generation. Quality is still the key, but the wines are somehow more pristine, with brilliant intensity. They glow with life on the palate, as if they have been lit from the back.

In terms of the style, as the quotes above indicate, the Weinbach/Faller wines offer a remarkable confluence of intensity and clarity, of power and finesse (as contradictory as that sounds). There is also clarity and homogeneity when it comes to the levels of dryness (a rarity in Alsace these days). Basically all of the Rieslings are dry unless they are late harvest (i.e.; unless they are marked “Vendage tardive”, “Selection de grains noble”, or “l’Inedit”, the latter being a specific late harvest bottling). The Gewürztraminer’s will all have residual sugar but this will be balanced by the phenolics and natural acidity of the grape. The carnival of layered, rocky, and at times bewilderingly complex wines we offer below, are something to behold. Charge your glasses

The Vineyards and Winemaking:

Put simply, Schlossberg is one of the greatest Riesling vineyards in the world; the quality of this very famous vineyard was well known as early as the fifteenth century. For this reason it was the first vineyard in Alsace to receive the status of Grand Cru in 1975. The Weinbach Domaine owns 8 hectares of this terroir. The second of the Fuller’s great terroirs is the monopole Clos de Capucins. Taking its name from the Capuchin friars who arrived here in 1619, the Clos is at the bottom of a slope, well protected from winds by the surrounding hills. Its soils consist of sand, alluvium, granite gravel and pebbles. Finally (as far as this offer is concerned anyway), the steep limestone and clay slope of the Grand Cru Furstenheim, is Valhalla for Gewürz. The wines from site tend to produce a more floral, spicy, savoury style than the obvious, simple, Turkish delight characteristics that dominate so many wines made by this grape variety. These are exhilaratingly fresh, complex and poised wines. 

In terms of vineyard and winemaking practice, the Fallers work as closely with nature as possible. Only organic compost is used and the high value placed on hand vineyard management means there is no recourse for anti fungal, or insecticides. The fruit is whole cluster pressed into ancient large foudres where it ferments on its indigenous yeasts. The ferments are lengthy, unhurried and the wine is untended until it is ready for bottling without fining. 

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