Alsace

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).
Vintage Report: Alsace 2011
Julian Campbell - 10 January 2013

When searching for a word to sum up their 2011 wines Catherine Faller came up with 'seamless' - a word that very elegantly encapsulates much that is great about these new releases. 

Coming from the somewhat back to front 2011 vintage they could, at various times in the season, have turned out very differently. As it happens, the Weinbach style, always one of the most elegant in all Alsace, sits extremely well with the vintage vagaries that 2011 produced. From Sylvaner to Gewurztraminer, this set of wines should be both an utter joy to taste when young, and easily capable of medium to long term cellaring.

Unlike further south in Burgundy, the Faller's saw their yields back up at normal levels in 2011. An extremely dry spring, following on from one of the driest winters on record, led to a bud break three weeks ahead of usual. With a hydric deficit looming, mother nature responded with three refreshingly wet months in June July and August, before the barometer changed once again signalling the arrival of clear skies and warm, fine Indian summer-esque weather through September and October. These final warm dry conditions didn't bring about much in the way of botrytis, but what little that did occur was exceptionally clear and clean.

Harvest started on the 16th September with the early ripening Pinot Auxerrois (as found in the Pinot Blanc Reserve) and finished under clear skies approximately one month later with the final plots of the original Grand Cru Schlossberg.

Seamless really is a very fine word for this range.  With acidity levels above 2009 but below 2010, there is a delicacy, freshness of structure and sense of harmony to these wines that will no doubt make them incredibly easy to enjoy.

Domaine Weinbach: Praises sung on jancisrobinson.com
Julian Campbell - 14 September 2011

Following a recent visit to Domaine Weinbach, Richard Hemming, regular contributor to Jancis Robinson's Purple Pages (www.jancisrobinson.com), found much to praise about the wines of Domaine Weinbach. 

In fact, having visited the 10 most prestigious wineries in Alsace, he appears to have come back enamoured with Weinbach more than any other Domaine. Herewith his comments in full:

WEINBACH, FALLER & FILLES

100% Biodynamic since 2005. This tasting was by far the best overall performance, judged on score alone - hit after hit, and no misses at all. The sweet wines are especially excellent, but I left convinced that this is one of those producers whom you can trust unreservedly. There is a sort of anarchic brilliance to their wines: bewildering labels, confusing cuvées, fluctuating sweetness - but joy unconfined to drink.
Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Réserve Sylvaner 2010 Alsace 16.5 Drink 2011-2014
Appley, dry, smooth, rather spicy and interesting. Lovely metal and mineral character to the texture and finish. More complexity than meets the nose. (RH) 13%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Réserve Pinot Blanc 2010 Alsace 16.5 Drink 2011-2013
70% Auxerrois, 30% Pinot Blanc. Lovely mineral nerve to this, quite austere, but the fruit gives the necessary flesh to fill out the palate. ‘Juicy’ as Madame Faller puts it. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Cuvée Théo Riesling 2009 Alsace 16.5 Drink 2011-2016
Very sherbety, peachy, fragrant and with an almost Gewürz-y perfume. Very opulent, but finishing savoury with a mineral streak. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Schlossberg Riesling 2009 Alsace Grand Cru 17 Drink 2011-2021
Fragrant, lively nose with a wonderful ripeness of fruit on the palate. Baked green apples, very approachable – no austerity at all, and great capacity for age, it seems. Fantastic length. (RH) 14%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Cuvée Ste Catherine Riesling 2008 Alsace 17 Drink 2011-2021
Mineral and limey, really layered and rich, but dry to finish. Super intense and with a lovely oily length. Wonderful hint of oxidative character – or is it phenolic? – adding some edge without spoiling. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine Riesling 2009 Alsace Grand Cru 17 Drink 2011-2018
Some oyster-shell character, lime juice, loads of concentration, dry yet rich with the alcohol. Not hot, not too weighty, but bold and with definite elegance. (RH) 14%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine L'Inédit Riesling 2009 Alsace Grand Cru 16.5 Drink 2011-2018
Not quite late harvest – but has some botrytis. First produced in 1998. Picked at PA 15%. RS 18 g/l RS. Tropical, apricot and a honeyed finish. Doesn’t quite have the finesse of the regular Ste Catherine. (RH) 14%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Schlossberg Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles 2007 Alsace 19 Drink 2011-2021
Nose doesn't seem up to much, but then the palate delivers sudden, outstanding range of flavour. This is brilliant – so sweet, yet with such savoury richness. Great Riesling definition too, seething acidity, fine balance, multiplex flavour. Needs time for the nose to develop. (RH) 10.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine L'Inédit Riesling 2001 Alsace Grand Cru 17.5 Drink 2005-2012
RS 25 g/l. Proper gold colour, amazing buttery, creamy consistency. Mature dried fruits with a host of spices and a long, honey glazed finish. Rather brilliant, splendid maturity, although I wouldn’t keep it much longer. (RH)

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Cuvée Ste Catherine Pinot Gris 2009 Alsace 17.5+ Drink 2011-2018
I like this a lot – great roasted peanut character. Loads of body, loads of flavour, long finish and enough structure to last. I can’t think of a better Pinot Gris that I know. (RH) 14.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Altenbourg Pinot Gris 2008 Alsace 17 Drink 2011-2016
RS 25 g/l. NB Altenbourg is a lieu-dit, not to be confused with the Grand Cru Altenberg. Honeyed, rich, dried oranges, sweet spice, a bit of mushroom. Marmalade, apricot, warm and expressive. (RH) 14.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Trie Spéciale Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2008 Alsace 18 Drink 2011-2016
TA 9.9 g/l. Wonderful, so mouthfilling and complex. Amazing tarte tatin, honey, herbs, long, long finish. Such profundity! (RH) 10.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Altenbourg Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2008 Alsace 17 Drink 2011-2015
RS 90 g/l. Very good, but not as soaring as the Trie Spécial. Layers of sweet, tropical fruit, orange peel, cinnamon and a touch of earthy funk on the finish. (RH) 12%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Cuvée Théo Gewurztraminer 2009 Alsace 16.5 Drink 2011-2015
RS 25 g/l. Roses, apricots, not at all overdone, great restraint. Long finish, slightly grippy but that balances nicely with the sweetness and freshness. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Cuvée Laurence Gewurztraminer 2008 Alsace 17 Drink 2011-2015
RS 36 g/l. Honey-covered fruits, floral bouquet in full effect, slightly bitter on the finish. Good restraint again, lovely control: all length no flab. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Altenbourg Gewurztraminer 2008 Alsace 17+ Drink 2011-2014
RS 40 g/l. Tremendous vibrancy and life in this, fine honey and honeysuckle character with a long floral finish. (RH) 13.5%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Furstentum Gewurztraminer 2008 Alsace Grand Cru 17.5 Drink 2011-2016
Spices up front, lots of floral character. Wonderful freshness and viscosity with a tempting, drinkable balance. Great restraint – especially for grand cru level. (RH) 13%

Weinbach, Faller & Filles, Altenbourg Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles 2008 Alsace 20 Drink 2011-2018
RS 160 g/l. Again, quite stunning aroma. Great body, outstanding clarity of fruit and a sudden late acidity to prevent it losing shape. Lengthy, round, exciting, too many fruits to mention and a wonderful botrytis nutty character to finish.
(RH) 10.5%
Harvest Report: From Domaine Weinbach on Alsace 2009
Julian Campbell - 17 December 2009

On his recent visit, Giles kindly inquired about our 2009 harvest at Domaine Weinbach and I am happy to share our impressions with you.

The potential of the new vintage is very high across our range of terroirs and grape varieties, with very healthy, beautifully ripe grapes and extremely pure aromas. The second half of August was hot and September was warm, both contributing to excellent maturities after the very mild weather conditions we had in April and May and despite a very damp July. August weather brought fears that total acidities would be too low but they are equivalent in most cases to the ones we experienced in 2005 and 2007 and the impression derived from the tastings is very fine. The maturities are optimal, both in sugar richness and in taste (phenolic) knowing that the grape skins were thicker than usual because of the lack of rain at the end of the season. In addition to their richness, the wines show freshness, juiciness and beautiful aromatic profiles. Because of the thick skins and dry conditions, botrytis (noble rot) was scarce and took time to develop in the most favorable terroirs. In return, it stayed incredibly pure and fresh. Due to its small proportion, ” tries ” (selections) needed to be extremely severe to produce tiny volumes of very high quality Sélections de Grains Nobles. Beautiful Vendanges Tardives, in of course much lesser quantities than 2005, were harvested showing great elegance of constitution.

The weather during harvest was a dream. We started on September 14 with our Pinot Noir: incredible colour, fruit and richness. We then paused for 10 days before picking Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Sylvaner. On September 29, we harvested our first Riesling and Gewurztraminer (both Cuvée Théo). This started the “heart” of our harvest and until October 7, we picked all our remaining Pinot Gris (including Vendanges Tardives, Sélections de Grains Nobles and Quintessence de Grains Nobles), all our Rieslings (including a beautiful Sélection de Grains Nobles in the Schlossberg) except a plot in the Altenbourg and all our Gewurztraminer except Altenbourg, Grands Crus Furstentum and Mambourg. The night of October 7 saw the first (moderate: 7 mm) rain in almost two months. The temperatures all along harvest had stayed between 18°C and 27°C with not even a hint of morning dew which can sometimes have the same "diluting" effect as light rain. Then, a week and just a couple of more mm rain later, on October 14 and 15, Gewurztraminer Altenbourg (“regular” as well as Vendanges Tardives Trie Spéciale and Quintessence de Grains Nobles), Gewurztraminer Furstentum regular and Vendanges Tardives. On October 20, a rich Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardives and to conclude on October 28, a beautiful first Riesling Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives.

To conclude I would like to say that we have been blessed with a series of excellent vintages: our brand new 2009 but also 2007 and 2008.

Let us wish you and your families a Merry Christmas, a joyful holiday Season and all very good things in the New Year to come.

Laurence Faller,

- Domaine Weinbach