Harvest Report: From Domaine Weinbach on Alsace 2009

Harvest Report: From Domaine Weinbach on Alsace 2009

Thursday 17th December 2009
by Julian Campbell

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