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

9/16/21 -

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.

-Eben Lillie

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