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Domaine Weinbach 2021: A Scintillating Vintage from one of France’s Iconic Wine Estates

Domaine Weinbach 2021: A Scintillating Vintage from one of France’s Iconic Wine Estates

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“Domaine Weinbach is arguably one of the world’s greatest wine estates. Over the years, the Faller family has produced myriad fantastic wines that are sought by wine lovers and collectors everywhere. Quality is so high across the board at Weinbach that it is hard to choose a single “best” wine as the subject of a vertical tasting.” Ian D’Agata, Vinous

“It is rare to find a place with so much energy and history, producing wines of such purity.” ★★★ Producteur de vins de qualité exceptionnelle (one of only six in Alsace). Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France 2023, La Revue du Vin de France

“Domaine Weinbach is an iconic domaine in Alsace. The wines are amongst the most elegant and poised in Alsace. They are paradigms of varietal expression and age effortlessly. In a way, Domaine Weinbach is the guardian of the Schlossberg and its incisive Rieslings. Today, Weinbach is also a name to be reckoned with when it comes to fine Pinot Noir.” Anne Krebiehl MW, Vinous

“Weinbach is one of Alsace’s great treasures… The straight varietal wines often get overlooked. Don’t miss their texturally wound-up Sylvaner, polished Muscat and zingy mineral Pinot Blanc.” Jon Bonné, The New French Wine


Eddy Faller puts 2021 up there as one of his family’s finest in the last 20 years and notes the domaine has not seen the same confluence of ripeness and acidity since 2010. The complete story of the year is long and complex and one we won’t dwell on today. Suffice it to say, that following a harrowing spring of unprecedented rainfall and sub-average temperatures, summer came to the rescue. Cool but sunny conditions in August and September allowed the domaine’s fruit time to build ripeness and complexity, while the thrilling acidities remained virtually static. Come the very last days of September, at their leisure, the domaine could choose what and when to harvest.

While you will hear of some producers in France struggling to find balance in 2021, quite the opposite was the case at Domaine Weinbach. Indeed, on paper, many of the wines have a similar or higher alcohol than the sumptuous 2020s. What makes this vintage so unique is the thrilling acidity that cuts through each wine’s flesh like a hot knife through butter, bringing box-spring tension to the wines’ powerful textures. It’s a match made in heaven—or Kayserberg, in this instance. On the downside, we are beginning to understand the extent of the year’s calamitous weather events on the annihilated yields across France, and this domaine was not exempt. At Weinbach, the average yields came in at 24 hl/ha—ranging from 8 hl/ha on the limestone soils of Altenbourg and Furstentum, to up to 30 hl/ha on the granite slopes of the epic Schlossberg hill. And yet, it could have been much worse: some Alsace domaines lost as much as 90% of their harvest.

Not only is this one of the most exciting releases we have shipped from Weinbach—which is something in itself—but it is also one of the most comprehensive. The powerful, chiselled, dry Rieslings headline the range, yet as we have seen repeatedly, Weinbach has a rare ability to knock every variety and style out of the park. The Gewürztraminers are iconic in their purity, balance and savouriness, while the Pinot Gris wines harness uncommon vivacity and purity to balance their exuberant personalities. The Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and dry Muscat, cropped from old, low-yielding vines in the monopole of Clos des Capucins, are all exemplars in their field.

All this reminds us of an anecdote once told by a wine writer whose name now escapes us. When asking the late Johnny Hugel how Laurence Faller (sadly also departed) could unfailingly deliver such quality over such a range of styles, he asked, “How does she do it?”, Hugel immediately responded; “Oh, that’s easy. Every night she goes down to the winery when nobody is around, and she sprinkles some magic dust into every vat”. It’s a kind of magic that clearly runs in the family. Under the guidance of her two progressive-minded nephews, Théo and Eddy Lieber-Faller, the domaine’s wines have become even more incisive and refined. Put simply, these are wines that inspire and mesmerise. They remind us that, at its very best, Alsace can effortlessly match up to any region in the world for the quality of its wines.

We have also shipped a parcel of the domaine’s increasingly impressive Pinot Noir this year. First introduced to the region in the 13th century, before phylloxera, Pinot Noir counted for almost 40% of Alsace’s vines. Over the past decade—and more so since 2016—Weinbach has been pulling out all the stops in crafting single-site wines that deliver on the undeniable potential of their old vines, dry climate and incredible terroirs. Key to the progression has been adapting their pruning techniques, planting cover crops and learning from many experienced growers and makers in Burgundy. “Twenty years ago, no one in Alsace cared about Pinot Noir,” says Eddy, “they used to make it without respect, like a rosé.” Today, Weinbach is one of an increasing number of quality growers imbuing their Pinot’s with the kind of proper ripeness, depth and silky texture that can stand tall against similarly priced wines from you know where. They deserve our support.

The Wines

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