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Domaine Weinbach

Faller Genius: Mesmerising Riesling and Gewürztraminer from one of the World’s Greatest Wine Estates

Let’s cut to the chase: Greatness is not always easy to define, yet here it’s straightforward. There’s the legendary quality of the Domaine’s terroirs for a start. Weinbach is the largest land holder on the Schlossberg hill, one of the world’s premier sites for Riesling. Then, there is the outstanding, certified biodynamic work in the vines, the low yields—typically less than 35 hl/ha—and the strict fruit selection at harvest time. Furthermore, there is the classic, minimalist and refined-over-many-decades practice in the cellars that includes whole-cluster pressing, wild-yeast fermentation with no additions, and maturation in ancient, colossal casks. Finally, there’s the brilliance and longevity of the wines themselves, a high standard Domaine Weinbach has been achieving for longer than anyone can remember. 

Of course, no discussion of this Domaine would be complete without mention of the great women that established the modern Domaine Weinbach: Colette Faller and her two daughters, Laurence and Catherine. Sadly, two of these great wine women have been lost to us. Today the emblematic Catherine Faller—surely France’s most charismatic First Lady of wine—is the matriarch. Working with Catherine are her sons, Théo and Eddy Faller, who oversee the day-to-day running of the Domaine and are further driving it to higher peaks. Longstanding maître de chai, Ghislain Berthiot, revels in the phenomenal quality of fruit the Faller family give him to work with. 

Domaine Weinbach farms 32 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. 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 eight hectares of this terroir. Another 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. And 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.

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. It is a Domaine that produces an endless stream of wines that are as delicious as they are profound.

The purchase, in 2019, of six hectares once belonging to Domaine Gérard Fuchs has added more Grand Cru land to Weinbach’s granite-rich bow. The parcels—now in biodynamic conversion—include mature vines from within the Grand Crus of Mambourg, Mackrain and Kaefferkopf and a one-hectare block in Furstentum planted to Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinots Blanc and Gris. Yet the sale lot was not limited to Grand Cru terroir, and Weinbach has also picked up some choice parcels of villages-level vineyard, all lying within a four-kilometre radius of the winery in Kaysersberg. With many of these parcels now in play, the Faller family has seized the chance to embark on a range of winemaking trials and these fascinating wines are released under the Ø Intrant (Zero Input) label.

In terms of vineyard and winemaking practice, the Fallers work as closely with nature as possible. They 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. Only organic compost is used, and the high value placed on hand vineyard management means there is no recourse for anti fungal, or insecticides. Since conversion, we’ve noted incremental rise in minerality and freshness of the wines, alongside a higher clarity and depth of fruit. The wines have more body, tone and shape too. 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 the cellar, 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.

In terms of the style, Weinbach offers 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 the Rieslings are dry unless they are late harvest (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. In sum, the carnival of layered, rocky, and at times bewilderingly complex wines crafted at this remarkable Estate is something to behold. 

Currently Available

Weinbach Alsace Les Vignes du Prêcheur 2021

Weinbach Alsace Les Vignes du Prêcheur 2021

Biodynamic in conversion. Now in its third vintage, this delightful field blend hails from a single vineyard beneath the Grand Cru Kaefferkopf, not far from the domaine. It’s on sandy/silt soils that are ideally suited to producing fresh, dry, early-drinking whites. The site is currently managed organically and is in conversion to both organic and biodynamic certification. The Prêcheur is a co-fermentation of five Alsatian grape varieties: 40% Riesling; 30% Auxerrois; 20% Pinot Gris; 5% Muscat; and 5% Sylvaner. The harvest was whole-bunch pressed, fermented wild in old oak vats and then bottled (unfined) after eight months on lees. Bustling with citrussy vibrancy, 2021 gifts a lithe, chiselled white with vibrant freshness counterpointing the wine’s enticing, fleshy summer fruit and floral prettiness. There’s signature Weinbach intensity, yet the wine feels uber-bright, with grip and balanced acidity alongside yellow-fruited length and light phenolic grip that draws you back to the glass.

The Prêcheur is a co-fermentation of five Alsatian grape varieties: 40% Riesling; 30% Auxerrois; 20% Pinot Gris; 5% Muscat; and 5% Sylvaner. The harvest was whole-bunch pressed, fermented wild in old oak vats and then bottled (unfined) after eight months on lees. Bustling with citrussy vibrancy, 2021 gifts a lithe, chiselled white with vibrant freshness counterpointing the wine’s enticing, fleshy summer fruit and floral prettiness. There’s signature Weinbach intensity, yet the wine feels uber-bright, with grip and balanced acidity alongside yellow-fruited length and light phenolic grip that draws you back to the glass.

“A very charming wine with slightly exotic fruit salad of aromas with plenty of tangerine. Juicy with a very appealing balance of medium body and moderate acidity. Then comes the supple finish that’s supported by fine tannins. A co-ferment based on Riesling with auxerrois, pinot gris, muscat and sylavner.”
92 points, Stuart Pigott, Jamessuckling.com
Weinbach Alsace Les Vignes du Prêcheur 2021
Weinbach Alsace Les Treilles du Loup Gewürztraminer 2021

Weinbach Alsace Les Treilles du Loup Gewürztraminer 2021

Biodynamic. This “radical” Gewürz is drawn from a parcel of 40–50-year-old vines from the Wolfreben lieu-dit in the Kaysersberg valley between the Clos des Capucins and the village of Kaysersberg. The soils are composed of sandy silt over granite pebbles. The Gewürz in this terroir ripens early, producing wines with complex aromatics and powerful concentration. The 2021 is just the third release for this single-vineyard bottling. Finishing with 15 g/L residual, it’s an explosively aromatic wine redolent of petal, lychee, rose water and Turkish delight. Although intense and viscous, this is so wonderfully refined, pure and savoury with all the classic Weinbach precision and detail. The driven finish is epic and studded with the mouth-watering freshness of bitter grapefruit and mineral steel. Although we would love to try this with the savoury/smoky tarte flambée—spicy Asian dishes should be the go-to.

Finishing with 15 g/L residual, it’s an explosively aromatic wine redolent of petal, lychee, rose water and Turkish delight. Although intense and viscous, this is so wonderfully refined, pure and savoury with all the classic Weinbach precision and detail. The driven finish is epic and studded with the mouth-watering freshness of bitter grapefruit and mineral steel. Although we would love to try this with the savoury/smoky tarte flambée—spicy Asian dishes should be the go-to.

“Such an exciting and radical gewurz with intense pink grapefruit character, but after a little aeration the rosewater and exotic fruit character of the grape comes through delicately on the nose. Powerful, yet so cool, dry and restrained. Then comes the extraordinary finish that has a freshness which almost knocks you off your chair. The final impression is of wet stone and very dry.”
95 points, Stuart Pigott, Jamessuckling.com
Weinbach Alsace Les Treilles du Loup Gewürztraminer 2021
Weinbach Alsace Muscat 2021

Weinbach Alsace Muscat 2021

Biodynamic. Dry. A blend of old vine Muscat Ottonel (70%) and Muscat d’Alsace (30%) rooted in the granitic gravel of Clos des Capucins, Weinbach’s dry Muscats are the antithesis of the floral and saccharine off-dry stereotype. Cropped from low yields and raised in large-format oak, there is far more potency and structure alongside the savoury presence and salty legacy from the Capucins’ mineral soils. The winemaking mirrors that of Weinbach’s dry whites, although the Muscat gets a flash of skin contact to enhance complexity and structure.Superb as an aperitif, it should also answer the age-old question about what to drink with asparagus. Lightly spiced dishes and soft-shell crab are also on the menu.

Superb as an aperitif, it should also answer the age-old question about what to drink with asparagus. Lightly spiced dishes and soft-shell crab are also on the menu.

“The 2021 Muscat was grown in the Clos des Capucins, the walled vineyard surrounding the house. It has a lovely lemon and elderflower scent, like a spring breeze. The palate is very fluid, almost rounded, and bone-dry, making this a charming, light-bodied aperitif style. There is the merest edge of phenolics which adds a little structure. The finish is lemony and dry.”
90 points, Anne Krebiehl MW, Vinous
Weinbach Alsace Muscat 2021
Weinbach Alsace MV0 2021

Weinbach Alsace MV0 2021

Biodynamic in conversion. Weinbach’s striking skin contact release is drawn from a parcel of vines in the Vogelgarten vineyard (the bird’s garden) between the Grand Crus of Furstentum and Mambourg. It’s a blend of 70% Gewürztraminer and 30% Pinot Gris from an east-facing incline of marl and limestone. Here, the steep slope optimises exposure to the sun, producing the kind of opulent Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris—with great aromatic complexity—that Eddy Faller felt would suit a skin contact style right down to the ground. Following three weeks on skins with indigenous yeasts, it is aged for eight months on gross lees in foudre. There were no added sulphites at any stage.This is the third release, and it is undoubtedly the finest so far. The knockout aromas take in amaro, blood orange and orange rind, while the palate is potent and fleshy, with grapefruit and watermelon dovetailing with crunchy freshness and grippy phenolic pucker. All this flavour and texture tapers to a long, salty close. Boom!

This is the third release, and it is undoubtedly the finest so far. The knockout aromas take in amaro, blood orange and orange rind, while the palate is potent and fleshy, with grapefruit and watermelon dovetailing with crunchy freshness and grippy phenolic pucker. All this flavour and texture tapers to a long, salty close. Boom!

“This orange wine has a fascinating nose of candied orange, bitter orange marmalade and tawny port. Stunning interplay of elegant tannins and dried-fruit aromas, the acidity just enough to keep this clean and straight.”
94 points, Stuart Pigott, Jamessuckling.com
“This shimmers in a most alluring pink and amber color. It comes with an enticing aroma of rose and sun-warmed peach, almost bottled peach. The palate has a tannic edge, more of that welcome apple pip bitterness, and real body. Fruit and aroma, rose and peach, seem to complete each other, while the tannic structure supports the delicate freshness. The finish is completely dry. The purity is astonishing.”
92 points, Anne Krebiehl MW, Vinous
Weinbach Alsace MV0 2021
Weinbach Alsace Grand Cru Furstentum Gewürztraminer 2021

Weinbach Alsace Grand Cru Furstentum Gewürztraminer 2021

Biodynamic. Weinbach is one of the very finest domaines for this grape variety in Alsace. The style stands out for its purity, balance and savouriness—and for the lack of overt, confected notes that mark so many examples. Restrained focus is the theme. At the northern limit of Altenbourg, the terraced slopes of Furstentum rise swiftly from 300 to 400 metres at the top of the Mont de Sigolsheim. This steep, south-facing slope is one of the great terroirs for Gewürztraminer in Alsace. The soil is brown clay full of limestone, with a pebbly structure that holds both moisture and warmth. Crafted from low-yielding 90-year-old vines, as always, this terroir has produced a remarkable, textural Gewürztraminer in 2021. In a word – wow. An intricate nose of honeysuckle, blossom and exotic florals gives way to an opulent mouthfeel studded with delicious candied orange notes and juicy ripe peach. The finish is dense and pure, with a bead of balancing acidity and overt minerality. The balance is sublime, and the length is detailed and refreshing, finishing with more sweet/sour orange fruits. No one does Gewürz quite like this. With roughly 48 g/L residual (balanced by structure and freshness), this would be brilliant with terrine, pâté and, again, many styles of Asian cuisine—more specifically, chilli crab or other spicy seafood dishes. Of course, it’s also a winning match with Munster or Époisses (or most washed-rind cheeses).

Crafted from low-yielding 90-year-old vines, as always, this terroir has produced a remarkable, textural Gewürztraminer in 2021. In a word – wow. An intricate nose of honeysuckle, blossom and exotic florals gives way to an opulent mouthfeel studded with delicious candied orange notes and juicy ripe peach. The finish is dense and pure, with a bead of balancing acidity and overt minerality. The balance is sublime, and the length is detailed and refreshing, finishing with more sweet/sour orange fruits. No one does Gewürz quite like this. With roughly 48 g/L residual (balanced by structure and freshness), this would be brilliant with terrine, pâté and, again, many styles of Asian cuisine—more specifically, chilli crab or other spicy seafood dishes. Of course, it’s also a winning match with Munster or Époisses (or most washed-rind cheeses)

“A very lush and exotically floral gewurz with tremendous concentration and plenty of rose hip and caramel alongside the restrained papaya character. Very long creamy finish with a beautifully integrated sweetness that pulls you back for more. Still quite tight at the finish. Fermented for almost a year and may well show better after more bottle age.”
96 points, Stuart Pigott, Jamessuckling.com
Weinbach Alsace Grand Cru Furstentum Gewürztraminer 2021
Weinbach Alsace Colette Riesling 2021

Weinbach Alsace Colette Riesling 2021

Biodynamic. Primarily responsible for the Weinbach we know today, Catherine Faller’s mother, Colette Faller, was one of the legends of Alsatian wine. Sadly, Madame Faller passed away in early 2015 and, like her daughter Laurence and husband Théo before her, is now immortalised by a wine bearing her name.This comes from 50-60-year-old vines in the Bonnes Terres terroir, lower down on the Schlossberg slope, where the soils are deeper and sandier. The fruit here also tends to be picked a touch later. Accordingly, the register of flavours here (running from white flowers through to tropical fruits and citrus fruit zest) is more intense, yet the wine balances its power with great freshness and verve. Even though it comes entirely from Schlossberg, some of the vines fall outside the Grand Cru boundary, which is why it cannot be labelled as a Grand Cru. The domaine has now applied for Premier Cru status. But no matter, it certainly offers Grand Cru quality in the glass.Raised for 14 months in old oak casks, it’s statuesque and full of life, packed with the joie de vivre of citrus and stone fruits, salty minerals and a flicker of white flowers. The texture is generous yet stony and compact, and the palate glows with energy and tension with tingling rocky minerality and a nip of bite on the lingering, mouth-watering finish. It’s fabulous.

Raised for 14 months in old oak casks, it’s statuesque and full of life, packed with the joie de vivre of citrus and stone fruits, salty minerals and a flicker of white flowers. The texture is generous yet stony and compact, and the palate glows with energy and tension with tingling rocky minerality and a nip of bite on the lingering, mouth-watering finish. It’s fabulous.

“Stunning nose of yellow peach, pomelo and fresh pineapple that pulls you into this simultaneously ripe and vibrant dry Riesling. The ripe citrus flavors run right through the palate into the long finish that’s so uplifting it makes you feel good to be alive. So polished and precise.”
95 points, Stuart Pigott, Jamessuckling.com
Weinbach Alsace Colette Riesling 2021
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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. That consistent track record has shed light on Alsace’s many delicious, age-worthy and memorable white wines. 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

Country

France

Primary Region

Alsace

People

Winemakers: Ghislain Berthiot and Théo Leiber-Faller

Availability

National

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