New arrivals from Alsace! - JP Rietsch, Frick, and Beck-Hartweg

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Over the last two weeks, we've received a treasure trove of wines from a few of our favorite Alsace producers, and it seemed like a good moment to roll them all into an email! New vintages from Jean-Pierre Rietsch are here, returning favorites from Chantal and Pierre Frick just landed, including some back-vintage wines from 2000, and a new shipment from Florian and Mathilde Beck-Hartweg has arrived as well! We're now fully loaded with brilliant, acid and terroir driven whites, fascinating maceration (skin contact) wines, and even a few rare Pinot Noirs!

A sampling of the Rietsch line-up

Jean-Pierre Rietsch is one of the most sage and relaxed winemakers in Alsace, and that's saying a lot, considering how nice most people are in the region (might have something to do with the 300+ days of sunshine per year). He is one of the pioneers of natural winemaking in the region, and though not dogmatic about sulfur use, tends to vinify most of his wines without the addition of SO2. Aging can be quite long for some of his wines, as he has a deep understanding of each parcel and grape variety, and the patience to release the wines when he feels they are harmonized and ready to drink. His wines are beloved in France, and it's not surprising to find one or more of his cuvées in natural wine bars around the world. In recent years, he has experimented with the solera system, and with short and long macerations, with incredible success. His reds are also a treat, and showcase the spice, herbs, and dark fruit that make Alsatian Pinots so singular.

Pierre Frick in the vineyards and at home

Chantal and Pierre Frick have been working organically since 1970, and have been certified Biodynamic since 1981. They are incredibly passionate about the importance of living soils that contribute to the health of the vines and the complexity of the wines. As they write, "the application of this more comprehensive approach to the life of the soil and vine advocated by bio-dynamie has changed our vineyard. The growing cycle of the vine is in better harmony. It is less sensitive to grey rot and insect pests. The better balance of the plant is conducive to good grape ripening and obtaining a better quality of juice (density, balance, minerality, vitality). From this the wines have revealed more depth and greater expression of terroir." Fermentations are always with wild yeasts, they do not chaptalize, and use minimal or no sulfur-dioxide, which results in delicate "luminous" wines. Aging is in old 3,000 liter casks which the Fricks prefer to stainless steel or barrique. "These casks allow breathing (airflow) and transpiration (evacuation of higher alcohols and esters) of wines, without changing their taste by the contributions of new oak." The Fricks have also moved away from cork, and use crown caps for all of their still wines (no corked bottles!). Pierre has truly become a master of maceration/skin contact wines, producing distinct wines that retain varietal character and beautiful balance. The recent round of maceration wines from the Fricks are excellent and should not be missed.

Florian & Mathilde Beck-Hartweg

Florian and Mathilde Beck-Hartweg are young winemakers based in the town of Dambach-La-Ville. First available in the States a few years ago, the wines have quietly grown a loyal and passionate fan base here in New York, for good reason! Farming is organic, and they have stopped plowing in recent years, preferring instead to use the "rollofaquer," a farming tool that pushes over plants to create organic cover and protect the humidity and biodiversity in the soil. All wines age in large old barrels of 1000-1500L capacity. Their locality in Dambach-La-Ville is centered around a concentration of granite terroir that lends a fascinating and scintillating minerality and salinity to their wines. They've been inspired by the dynamic natural wine scene in France and beyond, and have changed their approach in the cellar in the last decade, not just in terms of sulfur use, but also stepping away from the tradition of varietal wines and focusing on terroir expression and parcel-specific blending. For example, instead of separately bottling a Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from a specific granitic parcel in Dambach-la-Ville, Florian and Mathilde Beck-Hartweg now make a single wine that is a blend of all the grapes from said parcel, and the resulting wine expresses the intense granitic structure and spice of that site.

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2018 VDF Alsace Quelqu'un Sylvaner

Years ago, I bought a magnum of Grand Cru Zotzenberg Sylvaner from JP Rietsch and our beloved former colleague Amanda Bowman and I opened it for a bunch of winemakers from Languedoc-Rousillon later that trip. After pouring a few glasses, we had winemakers chasing after us to try this amazing wine! I've been hoping to see the wine in New York ever since, and though this is not the same bottling, it's 100% Sylvaner from the Zoztenberg Grand Cru, and it is certainly spot on. There's a short maceration on the skins here, but mostly to lend subtle texture and grip. Aging is in large foudres for 33 months. Crystalline and mineral, with medium weight. -EL

  • white
  • 1 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 Alsace Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes

45 year old vines from the Stein vineyard. Semi-carbonic fermentation, with 10 days whole cluster maceration. Aged in stainless. This is a wine that will surely age well, and has a bit more depth and earthiness than the younger vine expression.

  • red
  • 4 in stock
  • $38.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Frick 2018 Alsace Sylvaner Bergweingarten

100% Sylvaner from the lieu-dit "Bergweingarten" on brown calcerous soils, mid-slope, aged on the lees for seven months in old foudre. This is a vibrant dry Sylvaner, drinking more like a dry Riesling. Aromas of yellow fruits, flowery hay, white pepper and wet limestone. Full-bodied and dry, the palate is well-structured and mineral with flavors of white peach, black peppercorn and limestone with a very long saline finish. Serve this lovely dry Sylvaner with shellfish, grilled fish and fish in sauce, and roast chicken with lemon and rosemary.

  • white off-dry
  • 21 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Frick 2018 Alsace Pinot Blanc Classique

This is all Pinot Blanc from three parcels. Fresh, vertical and very tasty.

  • white
  • 12 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Frick 2000 Alsace Grand Cru Riesling Vorbourg VT

This should be outstanding. Here we have a 2000 vintage, late-harvest Riesling from the Vorbourg vineyard. Residual sugar is at 29g/l, akin to an off-dry Vouvray in sugar level. -EL

  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $57.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • white
  • 7 in stock
  • $41.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • white off-dry
  • 4 in stock
  • $43.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Beck-Hartweg 2019 Vin d'Alsace Riesling Dambach

This is another tasty white from the Beck-Hartwegs. The Dambach-la-Ville Riesling is comprised of fruit from several eastern-facing parcels on granitic soils. Since the sites have the same soil-type and same exposition, Florian and Mathilde blend them to provide a snapshot of the Dambach terroir expression. There is a very straight and salty acidity here that differs greatly from the Riesling blend (from a combination of soil types). It's fresh, floral, and structured (not tannins, just a type of mineral structure from the granite), with lovely texture in the mid-palate.    -EL

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg 2019 Vin d'Alsace Gewurztraminer "Bungertal"

A lovely little dry Gewurztraminer from Florian and Mathilde Beck-Hartweg. Floral and crisp, textbook Gewurz.

  • white
  • 5 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg 2018 Vin d'Alsace Granit

This is a field blend that was made to show the character of the soil in Dambach. Florian and Mathilde selected three vineyards that produced what they call the most "salivant" wines (salivant roughly translates to mouth-watering). This quality is common with wines that come from granite terroir, hence the name of this cuvée. The area around Dambach-la-Ville is known for a high percentage of granitic soils, so this is very much a Dambach wine. A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Riesling, it has a faint pink hue, and a fascinating saline/mineral quality. No SO2 added.

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg 2019 Alsace Grand Cru Frankstein Riesling

This is a memorable Riesling from two parcels in the Grand Cru of Frankstein, which rests above the town of Dambach-la-Ville on a fault of granite. Frauenberg is a parcel that gives small berries that Florian and Mathilde find to have great concentration and intense acidity. This is blended with fruit from the Pflanzer parcel, which has less intensity and provides more delicate character to the blend. Quite reductive on the nose upon opening, but given time, something ethereal and quite enjoyable emerges. The first bottle I opened stateside was forgotten in my fridge for about a week, and I was greatly impressed with how lovely it was 7 days after opening! Definitely a young wine, but a very pure and age-worthy wine nonetheless. Guaranteed there's enough acidity and mineral sharpness from the granitic soils for this natural wine to age gracefully without fear of bacterial issues developing.    -EL

  • white
  • 9 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg 2018 Vin d'Alsace Pinot Noir "F" (Frankstein)

Though the fruit for this bottling all comes from the Grand Cru Frankstein vineyard, Pinot Noir does not have Grand Cru status in Frankstein (only white varieties are awarded Grand Cru Frankstein status), hence the name "F," for Frankstein. This is elegant, and red fruited, like a classic Burgundian Pinot, but also shows some peppery, darker fruit more reminiscent of a regional Alsace expression. Grapes see about 2 weeks of maceration, with occasional delicate pouring of a few liters on the cap to avoid oxidation, otherwise, very little extraction. The wine, is however very present on the mid-palate, and though approachable now, should be really enjoyable in the next 1-3 years.  

  • red
  • 14 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur
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Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 VDF Alsace Entre Chien et Loup Blanc

This is 100% Pinot Auxerrois from clay and limestone soils. Nice weight here, and quite taut as well, which is not common for Auxerrois. Often wines from this grape can be a little round and soft, but this shows nice freshness and balance. -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre NV Alsace Pas a Pas

This is a fascinating wine from Jean-Pierre Rietsch, made in solera style, currently from vintages 2011, '13, '15, '17, and '19. The grape is called Savagnin Rose (otherwise known as Klevener or Traminer). The last 3 vintages in the solera saw some skin contact, lending to the hazy and peach-hued color of the wine. Dense, ehtereal, and showing the faintest hint of oxidative notes, the way Savagnin can naturally lean towards oxidative notes in the Jura (note this is not the same grape as Savagnin). This wine is always a trip, and a memorable experience to be sure. -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 VDF Alsace Quand Le Chat N'est Pas La

This is Pinot Gris that sees 2 weeks of skin contact, yielding a lovely color reminiscent of rose water. Grapes are from the Stierkopf vineyard, which is mostly sandstone and limestone terroir. This was a favorite at a recent tasting of the Rietsch lineup. It's not mousy by the way! I'm still not sure why JP chose this name, but the wine does see a small addition of SO2, and it is perfectly clean! -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 Alsace Muscat Ottonel 'Murmure'

100% Muscat Ottonel, macerated on the skins for 8 days, with no addition of sulfites. Aging is on the lees in stainless steel and the grapes come from Stein (clay/limestone) and Grand Cru Zotzenberg (marl/limestone) vineyards. The style here is subtle, and nuanced, with lovely floral perfume, and a touch of tannins. Delicate and balanced. Each label is created by a local artist and friend of Jean-Pierre Rietsch, and the labels are made after each wine is tasted with the artist. My guess is the idea of the 'murmure' refers to the whisper-light nature of this Muscat skin contact wine.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 Alsace Demoiselle Gewurztraminer

100% Gewurztraminer, from the Grand Cru Zotzenberg vineyard. One week whole-cluster maceration, with aging in stainless steel. Lovely amber hue in the glass, with subdued florals and perfect grip.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 Alsace Pinot Noir

From younger vines of Pinot Noir on clay and limestone soils. The profile is of dark berries, and earth, and with a half hour or more open, it begins to show more elegance and perfume. -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $33.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic

Rietsch, Jean Pierre 2020 Alsace Pinot Noir Stierkopf

This exquisite and dark-fruited Pinot Noir is from 35 year old vines from massale selection in Burgundy. The Stierkopf vineyard is a mix of sandstone and limestone, on a south facing slope. Maceration is semi-carbonic, with whole clusters. Though distinctly Alsatian in expression, there is an elegance and fine tannic structure that reminds of Burgundy. There's a beautiful purity of fruit, and it's immediately enjoyable, though we do recommend giving it time to open up, as it doesn't seem to stop evolving over time. Sturdy and elegant for a wine without added SO2 - in fact I don't think anyone would guess that this was a "natural wine," as it's technically flawless. Decant or drink over several days (if possible!).   EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Frick 2018 Alsace Riesling Maceration "Carriere"

This lovely skin contact of Riesling hails from the Carriere vineyard.The wine matured on its fine lees for 9 months in old foudre before bottling. Zero added SO2. The wine shows a golden color with orange highlights and intense aromas of yuzu, lemon mint and mandarine. The palate is dry, vibrant and persistent, with a nice touch of tannin and flavors of citrus zest and a long very mineral finish. Serve with full-flavored fish dishes, fish choucroute, white meats in sauce.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Frick 2018 Alsace Pinot Gris Maceration

Though it seems like a relatively new category, it turns out winemakers in Alsace have been making skin contact wines for some time. The first may have been Bannwarth, who experimented with qvevri (georgian clay anforae). Then, along with the Fricks, JP Rietsch, Patrick Meyer, and Bruno Scheuller. This is Pinot Gris with 10 days of skin contact and no sulfites added. The color is a deep auburn/ruby in the glass, almost reminiscent of a light red. On the palate, it's balanced and clean, with faint tannin, peach fuzz, and subtle red fruit.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Frick 2020 Gewurztraminer Maceration

The 2018 Frick Gewurstraminer Macération is from two parcels: Terroir Krottenfues, soil marno-gréseux, high on a slope above grand Cru Vorbourg, and from a limestone terroir below Grand Cru Steinert, facing due east. Grapes see ten-days of whole-cluster maceration before pressing, and the wine is matured on its lees for six months in hundred year-old foudres. The wine shows a bright and luminous orange tinted color and complex aromas or rose, cinnamon, cardamon, white pepper and orange zest. It's dry, ample and rich with discreet tannins and flavors of white fruits, citrus, rosewater, ginger, pepper, with a long spicy finish. Serve this dry Gewurztraminer as an aperitif or with Asian and spicy dishes of fish, vegetables or white meats.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg VDF Tout Naturellement Petillant Rosé (Pet-Nat)

Yowza! This is the first Pet-Nat that Florian and Mathilde produced, and it's full of tangy red fruits and a bit of a sour candy vibe. Unfiltered. "Fresh, crisp, expressive juice!" PLEASE NOTE*** It appears that this wine may not have been disgorged, so it must be fully chilled, and even then, there is a great chance that it will "explode" just a bit. Open over a sink or outside for best results, and make sure to have a glass handy.  -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Beck-Hartweg 2019 Vin d'Alsace Pinot Noir Dambach

From a few different parcels in Dambach, this is a very pleasant and approachable Pinot Noir, with great balance and acidity. -EL

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $20.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur