Ostertag Les Jardins Pinot Gris 2016
Certified Biodynamic and practicing since 1998, the Domaine owns 35.5 acres of vineyards in over 88 separate plots spread over the villages of Epfig, Nothalten, Itterswiller, Ribeauvillé, and Albé. The grapes are hand harvested, pressed gently and fermented with indigenous yeasts until fully dry. The wine is then aged, sur lie, in old 228 L oak barrels, for 9 months.
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To call André Ostertag a revolutionary winemaker is to tell just half the story. He is a pioneer, certainly, but also an ardent environmentalist. After training in Burgundy, André returned to the family domaine in Alsace with renewed zeal: he lowered yields considerably and introduced viticultural and vinification techniques from other regions to his own home ground. He looks for the nuance of terroir rather than the typicity of a grape varietal. André rejects formulaic, scientifically engineered wines, and since going biodynamic in 1997, has been an active member of the natural farming community.
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land running north to south on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, it is one of the driest regions of France but enjoys a long and cool growing season. Autumn humidity facilitates the development of “noble rot” for the production of late-picked sweet wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties, the only ones permitted within Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus vineyards, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty. In its youth, Alsace Riesling is dry, fresh and floral, but develops complex mineral and flint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat, vinified dry, tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal.
Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted in Alsace and mainly used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Most Alsace wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
This “white” variety is actually born out of a mutation of Pinot Noir and shows a unique rosy, purplish hue upon full ripeness. The grape boasts two versions of its name and two generally distinct styles: the crisp, Italian Pinot Grigio and the softer French Pinot Gris. Somm Secret—Given the color of its berries and aromatic potential, Pinot Grigio is commonly used to make "orange wines." An orange wine is a white wine made with fermentation on its skins (similar to red wine making), leading to n orange hued wine with ephemeral aromas and extra complexity.