It was back in 1983 that Weinbach coined the term 'Quintessence' to describe a particularly sumptuous Selection des Grains Nobles. In 2011, the Pinot Gris vines in the Altenbourg vineyard produced some truly exceptional botrytis and as a result 90% of this cuvee is made up of nobly rotted grapes. At 220 g/l this could easily be overly 'sticky' but, thanks to some high, bright and supremely vivid acidity, the result is a immensely concentrated nectar of incredible grace. Mindblowing stuff. Liquid tarte tatin, ripe apples, juicy raisins, dried apricots, strawberry jam, caramelised sugar all come together underpinned by a strong current of spiced honey. Superb!
Named after the “Wine Brook”, a little stream that flows through the estate, Domaine Weinbach was founded by the Capucin monks in 1612. The house is surrounded by the original 9th Century monastic vineyard, the Clos du Capucin and all of the estate’s wines are now labelled with its name. Two Faller brothers acquired the estate in 1898 and this was duly inherited by Théo Faller. Sadly Théo died in 1979 leaving his estate in the safe hands of a Faller Triumvirate: his wife Colette and his two daughters, Cathy and Laurence – who all contribute to the continued development of Théo’s great legacy. Staggeringly Domaine Weinbach owns 26 hectares of vineyards in the Kaysersberg valley in the Haut-Rhin of Alsace at between 200 to 400 metres above sea level. They grow their vineyards organically with a view to quality rather than quantity and hand pick the grapes. Only their grapes are vinified unlike many other producers in Alsace who frequently have to buy them in. Each vineyard has its own specific terroir which, along with the other unique characteristics of grape and vintage, shimmer through these elegant and sophisticated wines thanks to their passive ageing in large old oak fuders.
Perhaps the most important feature of Alsace is the looming presence of the Vosge mountains to the west of the region, a source of shelter from the wind and who's slopes provide the south, south-west and south-easterly facing vineyards which which to make most use of the suns rays. Due to the huge variety of soil types and terroirs to be found in the region Alsacian growers tend to produce a variety of different wines and cuvees from the dry and refreshing to some of the world's richest and most engaging late picked Vendage Tardive wines. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner are all highly successful and most can and are made to varying levels of sweetness.