Diam closure. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 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 not having any of the overt, confected notes that mark so many examples. Restrained focus is the theme. This was the wine that was formerly called “Cuvée Resérve”, a name that has been dropped. Everything else is the same. It could be called the ‘entry-level’ Weinbach Gewürztraminer although there is really no such thing at this Domaine. From old vines in the Clos des Capucins, this is a Gewürz that is pitched at the drier end of the spectrum and the sandy soils promote both prettiness and perfume. Above all, it is super fine, with notes of peach, rose petals, five-spice, and musk. So pure, delicate and perfumed yet it will comfortably stand up to very intense food. The 2017 finished with under 20 grams residual.
The 2017 vintage is a wonderful year here with wines of both flesh, genuine ripeness and raciness. They also have the structure to age. They are, once again, a truly wonderful set of aromatic whites. The vintage was nonetheless a challenging one to begin with. As many will recall, 2017 was a year of terrible frosts across Northern France and Alsace did not escape damage. Weinbach were one of the relatively lucky ones losing ‘only’ 40-50% of their Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer and around 15% of their Riesling fruit. After that, the season was warm, sunny and dry with fast-growing conditions and low disease pressure. The fruit ripened in ‘Indian Summer’ conditions and came in perfectly clean and ripe. The frost had caused very low yields – on average 28 hl/ha – across the Domaine, one of the keys as to why ripening was no problem. The resulting wines are concentrated, fruit-rich and with an impressive balance of freshness and acid line. They are already open for business, yet they clearly have the balance and structure for long-term ageing. It is another set of super impressive wines from this brilliant Domaine.
Weinbach’s Pinot Blanc is actually a blend of 70% Auxerrois and just 30% Pinot Blanc. For the nerdier, recent studies of the DNA ‘fingerprints’ imply that Auxerrois is a cross between Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir. In Alsace, the term “Pinot Blanc” can be used to describe wines made from any or all of the following grapes: Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Weinbach’s blend comes from both the Clos des Capucins’ 45-year-old vines and a plot from the limestone-clay soils at the foot of the Altenbourg vineyard. As with the dry Rieslings, the Pinot Blanc is whole bunch pressed, and it is the only wine at the Domaine fermented and raised in steel tank. Obviously, we would not bring this wine in unless we thought it was outstanding. The 2017 is a super delicious example, riper than recent years and therefore more textural with a core of something exotic threaded through with a punchy, grapefruity freshness.