Vintage Report: Domaine Weinbach’s 2013
Julian Campbell - 10 December 2014
It was with great sadness that we visited Domaine Weinbach this year as there would be a noticeable absence from the vintage presentation after Laurence Faller’s tragically early death in May 2014.
Laurence had been admired by all who came to know her, and her talent for winemaking was well documented. She had a prodigious talent and was recognised by wine drinkers around the world, as well as her peers, as one of Alsace’s brightest lights. Her immediate family included her two children and her sister Catherine and mother Colette, the latter two both remaining at the estate, Catherine remaining very much hands on. Catherine’s son Theo will continue to look after the vineyards, as he has done for a number of years, while the current cellar master will continue the work he’s done for over ten years. They have suffered a very sad loss this year, but Laurence leaves the estate in good shape and excellent hands.
The climatic conditions of 2013 were challenging. The weather in May was particularly cold and miserable, delaying flowering, and giving rise to ‘coulure’ across the whole spectrum of varieties. From the off the harvest looked set to be late, and low yielding. July and August here were warm and hot, punctuated by useful bouts of rainfall, the vines managing to regain a little lost time in these two months, so long as vegetative growth was kept in check. By the time September arrived the vineyards were in good condition and as a result of some fine even September weather, and cool nights, the grapes approached ripeness with excellent acidities intact and vibrant fruit profiles.
Harvest eventually started on 3rd October, a touch later than usual and lasted through to the end of October. As a result of the disastrous flowering, the estates yields averaged a mere 28 hl/ha, with Riesling and Muscat the two most affected varieties.
Now in bottle, the dominant characteristics in 2013 are freshness and vitality. However, this is not a lightweight vintage. “I think you can apply the term juicy to 2013” Catherine noted, and they are, but there is also more to them that that. From Sylvaner to the top Gewurztraminers, these wines have complex personalities, rich voices, and very clear finishes. There is very little fat, though of course there is opulence where opulence is called for (as is the case in some of the top Gewurztraminers) moreover, there is moreish fruit enveloping great ripe acidity and typical Weinbach elegance. The Schlossberg Rieslings, what little there are of them, are particularly clear, mineral and incisive.
So a very fine vintage of decisive, well defined wines that have the intensity, character and acidity to cellar well into the next decade. One final song from the late Laurence Faller (1967 – 2014).