2015 Domaine Marcel Deiss, Altenberg de Bergheim, Le Vin d’Alsace Grand Cru, Alsace, France.
The Grand Cru Altenberg bottling, from the legendary Domaine Marcel Deiss, is made up of the late pickings of top quality sections and includes all the traditional co-planted varietals grown on clay, limestone, fruit and pink sandstone soils that add to the amazing complexity and exotic ripe flavors this incredible white wine shows, especially in a vintage of such concentration as this 2015 has, it is absolutely one of the finest terroir driven wines in the wine world. This vintage, golden yellow in the glass, which is showing maturity now, has opulent layers of apricot, golden raisins, candied orange, dried pineapple, tangy citrus and ginger spiced apple fruits, framed with a luxurious roundness, crystalline mineral notes, liquified roses, verbena, earthy truffle, lychee, lemony marmalade and backing spices. The winery has long fought for a more qualitative style of wine that was solely based on the individual terroir, rather than the grape varietal, which in recent years has made a comeback and largely due to Deiss, non solo varietal wines can be labeled as Grand Cru. The Demeter certified Deiss estate too, was a leader in organic and biodynamic farming here in Alsace and they have focused heavily on reducing yields and picking the grapes at peak ripeness, as this beautifully textured effort shows. There’s a divine richness to these Deiss Grand Crus and also a fine balance, which each Cru being very different in character, with Altenberg, a South facing steep sloped vineyard with a great warm exposure, having some ancient marl with fossils, and soil that has iron-rich clay, as noted above, with a scattering of rocks, all of which that very much distinguishes this wine from the others, showing a smoky flinty note, a subtle acidity and loads of dense fruit intensity.
The Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru White, a blend of classic varietals which can include, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat d’Alsace per AOC regulations, saw a gentle long pressing, sometimes lasting 24 hours, of the whole bunches and it was fermented with indigenous yeast naturally in wooden vats, according to the winery, after which it was then aged on the lees (yeast) in ancient foudres for one year in the cellar before its bottling with only a light filtration. Intriguingly, the winery is very coy about varietals and percentages in their blends, especially their unique Grand Cru versions, like this one, but there is no mistaking where this wine comes from, it is a true Alsatian treasure that pays homage to an earlier era that Deiss almost single-handedly resurrected. The estate is located in Bergheim area, where the famed Altenberg vineyard is, next to the village Ribeauvillé, in what is the heart of the Grand Cru zone, and it was here that the Domaine Marcel Deiss was founded back in 1947, though the Deiss family had long lived in the region being everything from blacksmiths to grape growers. Currently the winery and vineyards are managed by the youthful talents of Mathieu Deiss, who with the help of his father Jean-Michel, who really put this label on the map, continue to craft some of the most interesting wines in Alsace. Jean-Michel took over this historic domaine in 1981 and instantly became a trailblazer, replanting the vineyards to co-planting of varietals and making old school field blends, which he saw as essential to make true terroir wines and he converted to organics, eventually going all biodynamic in 1998, his influence continues to inspire the whole region and his son has help raise the game too, these wines should never be missed. This full bodied, lushly sweet and impactful Altenberg is really hitting its stride right now and would be tremendous with a wide range of cuisine from Asian cuisine, roast poultry to juicy pork dishes.
($90 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive