2009 Florian Beck-Hartweg, Riesling, Vieilles Vignes, Vin d’Alsace, France.
The domaine of Florian et Mathilde Beck-Hartweg, all organic and biodynamic, is a small estate noted for their small lot and handcrafted wines with focus on generous ripeness and concentration, as this gorgeous, nicely mature and golden colored 2009 old vine Riesling. Tasted blind, thanks to my friend and Italian Sommelier Giuseppi Cossu, I originally stated it was Riesling, but not from Alsace, which was only half right and though slightly embarrassed, I was completely seduced by this richly flavored and opulent wine, which is wonderfully honey toned and feels like a Vendanges Tardives (VT) with its dense layers of apricot, pineapple, lemon curd, lychee and candied orange peel along with clove spice, star anise, verbena, peach pit, wet stones, saline, faint petrol fumes and crushed rose petals. Fermented to almost dry, this wine is gracious on the smooth and almost creamy palate highlights the warm vintage and the stylistic choice of the winemaking with saw a later and riper pick, making for a very luxurious Riesling that still has an underlying acidity to cover the depth of fruit. This wine deserves a meal based around its quality, with something simple and classic to pair with it, with roast ham and or a croque monsieur being good choices.
The Beck-Hartweg winery is one of the historic domaines of the Alsace region that goes back to the early 1500s, and has become an underground success in the natural wine world in recent years, though almost unheard of in California, except by a few Alsace enthusiasts, and I haven’t seen many bottles over the years, which is shame considering just how good this bottle is. Located in the medieval town of in Dambach-la-Ville, Beck-Hartweg has a solid collection of vineyards in some important crus and unique terroirs with a continental climate, that is sheltered from rain by the Vosges foothills. The underpinning of their 8 hectares of vines is mainly granitic sand on pink granite bedrock, but also there is some area with sandstone and volcanic soils, which all adds to the perfect conditions for ripe concentration and complexity of the wines made here. Florian and Mathilde are the 16th generation to make wines here and though youthful, they have a huge respect for their land and work in a holistic way in the vineyards and use a gentle hand in the cellar. This wine, from vines over 70 years old, saw a indigenous inox fermentation, which I believe was in stainless steel, though they normally used very old foudres too, with an elevage on the fine lees to promote absolute purity, which has proved successful, with this 2009 really be an exceptional wine. There’s a few bottles of this Vieilles Vignes Riesling and their Pinot Gris out in the wild here in the states, and I highly recommend searching them out!
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive