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Laurent Barth makes absolutely delicious wines on his 4 hectare organic estate in Bennwihr, just north of Colmar. The wines have a silky texture and remarkable complexity of fruit, floral, spice and earth flavors that are vibrant and pure and unburdened by excessive use of SO2. We're very happy that all of Larent's "entry level" wines have arrived in NY, just in time for your summer aperitifs, and to beautifully accompany salads, fish and white meat dishes as well. These are my favorite Alsatian wines for sheer pleasure and value - quantities are small so grab a few cases before they disappear! David Lillie (Wines arrive Monday 7/26)
Laurent spent many years learning winemaking far from his roots in Alsace, and returned home to take over his family's estate in the late 90's. At the time, Laurent's father was selling grapes to the local co-op, but Laurent had other plans. He was interested in organic farming, and was impressed with the what he learned from other growers like Patrick Meyer, and Marc Tempé, so he fulfilled the last contract with the co-op, and then transitioned the vineyards to organic viticulture and started incorporating biodynamic treatments in the vineyard. He plows once a year (around 5 cm deep) with a small tractor in the spring, has a weedwacker for weeds, and passes occasionally with a "rollofaquer" (I have no idea how to spell this) - a French made device that pushes over plants to create organic cover and protect the humidity and biodiversity in the soil.
In the cellar, Laurent has different strategies for dry and sweet wines. All his dry wines are fermented and aged without any SO2 added. He typically adds 1g (sometimes none, and at most, 2) at the bottling and does not filter. Sweet wines see the small addition of SO2 after fermentation and at bottling and are normally filtered. He understands his land well, and is both fascinated by and in a great working relationship with the deep deposits of granite that lend a unique minerality and structured finish to all of his wines. Laurent has truly come a long way since his first vintage in 2004, and now, 15 years later, the Barth vineyards are vibrant, healthy, and teeming with life, and the wines are balanced, mineral, and absolutely delicious! -Eben Lillie
Hubert and Heidi Hausherr have just under 4 hectares (~10 acres) in Eguisheim, a village close to Colmar, with varied terroirs of mostly marl, sandstone, and limestone. They do not use any tractors in the vineyard, relying instead on their trusty horse Skippy for any hauling or plowing they do. After several years of experimenting with lower levels of SO2 use, they started to solely produce wines without any added sulfites in 2011, and received (Biodynamic) Demeter certification in 2012. Their wines are all blends, with the exception of the 2008 Riesling on offer today from their past life, and they are all balanced, aromatically complex, and uplifting. We're excited to have their wines on the shelf - a must for lovers of natural wines!
Colline Céleste is a wine made from a coplantation of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris from the Eischberg Grand Cru, which is a south and east exposed vineyard of marl and limestone. The "berg" in Eischberg is Alsatian for "hill" (colline in French) and Céleste is the name of their grandfather. Hubert explained that the fermentation stopped with 10 grams of sugar remaining, so they waited 5 or 6 months to see if the yeast might finish the job. It didn't change much so they bottled at 9 grams RS. The blend here is dominated by the Gewurztraminer in percentage and aromatics. Lovely floral and white pepper notes, with a long, spicy finish. Though it isn't 100%, if anyone out there likes a good dry Gewurztraminer, this is most definitely worth a try! -EL
A blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris from marl and sandstone soils. This wine was a treat to taste over several hours and maintained it's freshness and energy into the second day. Notes of lemon verbena, and stone fruit. Pinot Gris gives some heft and power but it's very delicate and round. Riesling provides straight acidity and melon fruit. This is a great example of a natural wine that is first and foremost complex and terroir-driven. The detail of it's lack of filtration or sulfur addition is important and noteworthy of course, but it does not define the wine or predict how complete and well-made it is. -EL
This is a special bottling that the Hausherrs made from a difficult 2014 harvest. Mildew had created problems with their tiny plot of Pinot Noir, so they made a Blanc de Noirs from their miniscule 0.3 hectares. They then aged the wine for 4 years in a large barrel. The result is a deep golden, slightly oxidative and remarkably expressive wine, with notes of butterscotch and creme brûlée. -EL
Laurent Barth's 2019 "Racines Metisses" is a delightful blend of many grape varieties from his tiny organic estate in Bennwihr. Always around 50% Pinot Auxerrois (fermented separately), with Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and a touch of Riesling. The idea here is to make a wine that is easy to drink, says Laurent, and he nails it! The wine shows bright citrus, lime-flower, white fruits and a subtle touch of spice on the palate. The 2019 has ripe orchard and stone fruit on the palate, with citrus and floral notes, and a chiseled, mineral finish, thanks to the granite soils. Delicious! Eben Lillie
Laurent Barth makes beautifully balanced Alsatian wines from his tiny organic estate in Bennwhir, near Colmar. The 2019 Pinot d'Alsace (Pinot Auxerrois with a bit of Pinot Noir) is a lovely aperitif and a perfect wine for many fish and chicken dishes. Showing pretty aromas of pear, green apple, almond and lime-flower with citrus, pear, almond, honeysuckle and herbal flavors on the palate - really pretty, round and balanced with minerals and white fruits in the supple finish - this is a great value and a good introduction to the beautiful wines of Laurent Barth. David Lillie
From sandy clay soils on granite in Bennwihr, this wine is a blend of fruit from several different parcels, including a small amount from the granite Schlossberg vineyard. The residual sugar here is usually hovering around 2-3g, making this a pretty classic dry Riesling from the region. Ripe, orchard fruit on the nose, a touch of structure in the mouth (maybe from the Schlossberg granite), and a pleasant, dry finish. -EL
Laurent Barth's 2019 Alsace Pinot Gris is from high-density massale selection vines planted in 2001, always in organic farming, and from a parcel of 65 year-old vines. Technically dry, with ripe, honeyed fruit on the palate. Nose is fresh and lean, with wet stones, salinity, and firm apricot. Should be fantastic with fruit and cheese plates, salads, or chicken in sauce, and duck confit. -EL
Laurent Barth's 2018 Gewurztraminer is from organic vines in Kientzheim worked by horse. In this very sunny vintage, the wine is quite full-bodied and technically demi-sec, but showing much drier, with subtle, complex aromas of tea, lemon, brown spice and flowers with a dense palate of white fruits, spice, citrus and mineral flavors. Enjoy as an aperitif or serve with Asian foods, full-flavored fish and white meat dishes.
Aussitôt Bue is a blend of Pinot Auxerrois* and Sylvaner, with a small amount of Tokai Pinot Gris, from an east-facing parcel on sandstone terroir. Notes of white melon, lemon curd, and lychee, with a touch of fleshiness on the palate. A friendly wine, and a great aperitif sipper. -EL*I ask every Alsace producer what the difference is between Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, and Hubert had some insight on the matter! As he explained, Auxerrois typically has lower acidity than its close cousin Pinot Blanc, but is known for lovely aromatics, while Pinot Blanc is greener and less beautiful aromatically.
This is a skin-contact offering from Hubert and Heidi Hausherr. A blend of Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Auxerrois, and Riesling, with 21 days of maceration. Because the grapes were left intact (whole-cluster), the tannic structure here is very subtle. Hubert says the Riesling provides pretty acidity, and I believe the Pinot Gris lent color and spice. Of all the Hausherr wines, this is the only one I would recommend drinking in one sitting. It seems to lose it's freshness and lift after several hours, and some bacterial notes emerge. Their still whites, however, are well worth trying over several days! -EL