Saturday, July 24, 2021

Alsace Wines’ Heart and Soul - Family Tradition #Winophiles #DrinkAlsace

Thanks to Teuwen Communications' recent invitation, I have recently signed up to attend the Millésimes Alsace DigiTasting in June, the first wine fair that combines real tastings and virtual meetings with vineyards and winemakers. Wine professionals were shipped with a box of four carefully curated wine samplers by each vineyard of their choice, enjoying the wines and conversations with the vineyards in the virtual wine tasting event. Via the online video and conferences, I learned about the terriors and family traditions that make Alsace wines unique, respectful and timeless. Through tasting wines from four of the oldest domaines in Alsace - DOMAINE MELANIE PFISTER, MAISON JEAN HUTTARD, LES VIGNOBLES RUHLMANN-SCHUTZ, and LEON BEYER, let's look at how family traditions, the commitments from generations after generations, and their past-down lands shape the wines they produce.
Photo Credit:


Alsace is located in the north east of France on the Rhine River plain, bordering Germany and Switzerland. It is globably known for its its very aromatic, floral and spicy white wines, which make up over 90% of the region’s production.  Riesling and Gewurztraminer are among the most significant yields in the production. Alsace wines are produced under three key appellations (53 Appellation D'origine Protégée): one Alsace AOP and 51 Alsace Grand Cru AOPs for both sweet or dry still white wines, and one Crémant d'Alsace AOP for sparkling.


Mélanie Pfister is the 8th generation of Pfister family, which established in the northern part of Alsace in Dahlenheim, west of Strasbourg (capital of Alsace). The Domaine dates back to 1780 and currently owns 25 acres of vineyards. It specializes in dry Riesling and Cremant d’Alsace. Since the 2006 vintage, Mélanie took over the operation of the Domaine from her father.

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Engelberg Riesling 2017 Engelberg
Terrior: The Engelberg or “angels'hill”  presents a shallow and stony topsoil, on a bedrock of oolitic limestone. 
Taste: dry balance, structured by ripe acidity, noble bitterness, underpinned with minerality, aromas of citrus, pineapple and white flowers, and a long finish.

AOC Alsace Riesling 2019 Berg
Terrior: The limestone structure in this Riesling driven from the peak of Dahlenheim is obvious. The forty-year-old vines give the wine great precision. 
Taste: Bright, ripe acidity, pure, mineral tension, citrus notes and fresh flowers.

AOC Alsace Assemblage 2018 Paar - Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc Blend
Terrior: Coming from the 50 years old vines.
Taste: Dry balance, deep minerality which is unusal  for this type of wine. Volume provided by Auxerrois but ripe acidity offered by Pinot Blanc. Aromas of white flowers and stone fruits, long lovely finish.

AOC Alsace Pinot Noir 2017 HÜT
Terrior: Stony terroir, adjunction to the GC Engelberg. Pinot Noir matures in a homogeneously, resulting in a ripe phenolic maturity
Taste: Fuller, fleshy, silky tannins resutling from the aging, notes of redberry fruits.


Jean Baptiste, a young owner of vines, forests and orchards, began to make wine and sell it in 1860. The family business started then and passed down from father to son. By the end of the 40's, the Jean Huttard brand was created and the vineyard was formally established. The next generation, Jean Jacques created a viable wine-growing operation and became a pioneer in many respects: from bottling wines on premises to grassing the vines around 1950 - the infantile stage of organic viticulture. He was then one of the five historic Alsatian producers to launch the Crémant d'Alsace appellation in 1974. In the 1980s, Jean Claude and Martine took over and cultivated 20 acres of vines, becoming "Independent Winegrowers". Following his father's focus on quality, Jean Claude deliberately limits the production to make even better wines and produces micro-cuvées from specific areas. The current generation Maison Jean Huttard, along with Hélène and Antoine,  converts the land to organic since 2018, showing read commitments in respecting man, terriors and landscapes. 

AOC Alsace Riesling 2017 Lerchenberg
Terrior: Lerchenberg, "the hill of the larks", is situated in Zellenberg, extending to the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg. This terroir consists of silty-sandy clay which rests on limestone marl. The rich and complex soil allows the optimum ripening of Riesling. Guyot double Poussard pruning and strict disbudding of the buds allows the reduction of yields, the distribution of the sap flow, the conservation of plant capital and the sustainability of the land. 
Taste: Citrus aromas with remarkable finesse, floral notes of white flowers and minerality on the nose, structured wine with a tad freshness, oily clementine skin, finishing with substantial minerality. 

AOC Alsace Riesling 2019 Zellenberg
Terrior: The Riesling vines are 40 years old. The terroir of these four plots of Zellenberg is mainly clay and limestone, infusing the wines with significant minerality. 
Taste: Strong expression of fruity aromas, great finesse, minerality that reflects the terroirs, notes of white flowers and lemon on the nose.

AOC Alsace Sylvaner 2019 Zellenberg
Terrior: The Riesling vines are 60 years old. The terroir of these four plots of Zellenberg is mainly clay and limestone, infusing the wines with significant minerality. This wine is the impression of the landscape and the reflection of the singularity of the terroirs.
Taste: Superb aromatic complexity, full maturity, volumous and fresh, highly gastronomic.

AOC Alsace Pinot Noir 2019 L'etreinte 
Terrior: The grapes come from three parcels characterized by clay-limestone soils. They face south-east and benefit from full sunshine. 
Taste: Aromas of red fruits, numerous tannins, full-bodied, roasted coffee, chocolate.


It was back in 1688 that a Hungarian knight named Ruhlmann began cultivating vines in Dambach-la-Ville. Beginning in the 1960's, Jean-charles Ruhlmann and his partner Marthe started growing grapes and produced their first commerical harvest. Nowadays, the Ruhlmann-Schutz estate cultivates 125 acres of vineyards. The richness and diversity of the terroirs allows the family to create a generous collection of Alsace fine wines, from Alsace traditional wines to Grand Cru Frankstein or Muenchberg. The family is also well known for its Crémant d'Alsace. Today, the third generation of the family composed by Jacques-Emile and Louise-Anne Ruhlmann and Thomas & Antoine Schutz is now taking over the estate. The estate is in conversion to organic farming.

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Frankstein Riesling 2018 Hve
Terrior: The Riesling rapes are from exceptional granitic soils in the Frankstein, yielding  top-notched grapes that have an crystalline golden color appearance.
Taste: Outstanding notes of citrus fruits, stunning minerality, prolonged aftertaste.

AOC Alsace Riesling 2018 Rittersberg - Scherwiller Granit "S" Hve
Terrior: The grapes are planted below the medieval ruins of the Ortenbourg de Scherwiller, with a south-east exposure, enjoying constant sunshine on a granite terroir. 
Taste: Outstanding richness and oily texture, perfect minerality, hints of citrus fruits and lemons.

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Frankstein Riesling 2018 Hve
Terrior: The Riesling rapes are from exceptional granitic soils in the Frankstein, yielding  top-notched grapes that have an crystalline golden color appearance.
Taste: Outstanding notes of citrus fruits, stunning minerality, prolonged aftertaste.

AOC Alsace Pinot Noir 2016 Cuvée a L'Ancienne Élevé en Barrique Hve
Terrior: This Pinot Noir comes from a clay-limestone terroir. The vines are planted in the middle of the slopes and their roots are very deep. The work of the soil is done in alternation. 
Taste: Slight headiness as of polished old furniture, hints of woody and cherry on the nose, fresh, sinuous and elegant, gentle grip of tannin.  


The Maison Léon Beyer is one of the oldest vineyards in the region, dating back 1580 in Eguisheim. In 1867, Emile Beyerfounded the "Maison de Vin d'Alsace" (the Alsace wine house, currently run by Léon Beyer, who took over the reins from his father Léon Beyer senior in 1959, and his son Marc. This family business, now in its 14th generation, owns some of the most renowned terroirs in Alsace. A large portion of the vineyards are in the "Grands Crus" sites of Pfersigberg and Eichberg. Wines are produced using a combination of traditional expertises and state-of-the-art equipment, setting the higest standards of quality Alsace wines that are appreciated globally.

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg Riesling 2015 R De Beyer Conventionnel
Terrior: Grapes are cultivated on the best slopes of Eichberg and the surrounding area are the raw material from which are made the prestigious Alsace wines. 
Taste: Deep, rich, full-bodied, intense, juicy, fine and flinty aroma with pithy flavors, green and yellow flavors due to schist in the ground, and cellaring potential 

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Pfersigberg Riesling 2013 Comtes D'eguisheim Conventionnel 
Terrior: Grapes are cultivated on the best slopes of Pfersigberg and the surrounding area are the raw material from which are made the prestigious Alsace wines. 
Taste: Perfumed nose of green apple, nectarine, quince, hamomile and minerals, multilayered and complex flavors of orchard fruits, chewy extract, and finishes with bright lemony acidity and resonating minerality. 

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg Pinot Gris 2016 Comtes D'eguisheim Conventionnel 
Terrior: Eichberg. 
Taste: Rich, exotic aromas of truffle, underbrush, tropical fruit, caramel and honey, dense, juicy and rich, velvety flavors, long finish, bright and creamy, with candied pomaceous fruit note. 

AOC Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg Pinot Noir 2016 Comtes D'eguisheim Conventionnel 
Terrior: Made from 35- to 40-year-old vines that border the Eichberg. Aged 50% in used French barriques, the rest in stainless steel. 
Taste: Aromas of dark berries, black cherry, violet and flint, juicy and nicely precise, energetic blueberry and dark red cherry flavors, a tad powdered stone, textured mouthfeel and a hint of flintiness. 

To read the entire trilogy of my Alsace wine blogs, check out also my blogs on Land Sustainability and Food Compatibility!

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating way to learn about Alsace! I have loved reading through everyone's posts and becoming more familiar with the regions and the Domaines!