Dry. This cuvée is not only a truly memorable expression of Riesling, but it is also simply a brilliant white wine. It’s crafted from five plots of 60-plus year vines in the heart of the Schlossberg slope where the sun exposure and granitic, mineral-rich soils beget a particularly deep, coiled and profound dry Riesling. The wine takes its name from the day of Sainte Catherine, which falls on the 25th of November. Early vintages of the wine were picked on or around that date, drawing opulence and complexity from Alsace’s late Autumn. Today it can be picked as much as one month earlier, if not more. It does, however, remain the deepest and most profound dry Riesling of the Domaine and the 2017 is no exception. Expect waves of pulpy, stone fruit and orange rind, a sexy, fleshy texture and a vibrant, driven close that’s all class. Fabulous.
. To taste a range of the wines at any sitting with the Faller family is simply to be blown away. And such experiences have been occurring at the Domaine and across the planet for decades. Greatness is often not easy to pin down yet here there are no real surprises. There’s the legendary quality of the Domaine’s terroirs and their strict, certified biodynamic management. There are the low yields (typically less than 35 hl/ha) and the strict selection at harvest time. Then there is the classic, minimalist practice in the cellars including whole cluster pressing, wild yeast fermentation with no additions and maturation in ancient, colossal old casks. All these factors help contribute to the brilliance found in the glass when any bottle of Domaine Weinbach is opened. And there continues to be progress. Each year there are always new things being trialled, primarily in the vineyard, in order to strive for whatever added quality there might be out there. This year we also found that the Domaine has begun using Diam closures on the lower order wines after a trial that started in 2010. For the other wines, top-line corks that have each been individually tested for TCA, are now being used.
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.