The winemaking region of Alsace — located in far eastern France, on the border of southern Germany — is perhaps the most geologically complex in all of France. Much like Burgundy, the vineyards of Alsace lie on the western side of an escarpment that holds a mosaic of soil types and microclimates. A range of east-facing hillsides, sunny days, and protection from moisture by the Vosges Mountains make for an ideal environment to grow vines. Unlike Burgundy, the wines of Alsace are known more by grape variety than vineyard name, making it slightly more difficult to presume quality based on a label alone.
Third-generation winemaker Félix Meyer’s Domaine Meyer-Fonné has been one of the top performers in contemporary Alsace. The winery and family home are based in the village of Katzenthal, known for its distinctive granite soils, situated just east of the city of Colmar about 15 miles from the border. The estate boasts 34 acres of vines in a mosaic of parcels (including five Grands Crus). The majority of their holdings are located on hillsides and planted to the noble varieties, producing wines of great energy and depth.
The main focus at Domaine Meyer-Fonné is raising fruit of the highest quality. Cultivation is practicing organic as no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides are used. Winemaking is traditional with fermentation taking place through native yeasts. The wines are kept on the lees until May (Alsace AOC) or September (single vineyards) before bottling. All of Félix Meyer’s wines are characterized by heady aromatics and seductive textures attached to a frame of mineral tension.
All prices are based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).
$27 “Vignoble de Katzenthal” Riesling (Vin d’Alsace 2017)
100% Riesling from a two acre vineyard of granite with mica and calcareous marl planted in 1985 and 2009. This cuvée also includes some fruit from declassified Grand Cru and lieux-dit sites. With a lovely bouquet of orchard fruits, chalky lemon, flowers, and wet stones, this is no ordinary or “frooty” Riesling. A sip is dry yet filled with crisp, ripe fruit balanced by a long and nervy finish. It is a classic Alsace Riesling worth stocking in your cellar for when the occasion calls.
~$40 “Altenbourg” Pinot Noir (Vin d’Alsace 2017)
100% Pinot Noir planted in 1996 in a 1.7 acre plot of marly limestone. This cuvée was first introduced to the Meyer-Fonné lineup in 2015. The wine ages in neutral oak for 15 months and then three months in tank before bottling. Fans of Pinot Noir from the Jura region will find elements in this wine that are both familiar and surprising. Cherry and herb aromas dominate the nose while a sip is sleek and racy. With fine tannins and a lengthy mineral finish, this an ideal summer red.
~$40 “Wineck-Schlossberg” Riesling (Alsace Grand Cru 2016)
100% Riesling from 2.4 acres planted in 1958 and 2010. The Wineck-Schlossberg Grand Cru has a south-facing exposure rising above the village of Katzenthal and is characterized by a crumbly binary mica granite known as “de Turckheim.” A pure and delicate nose exudes spicy and mineral notes intermixed with ripe citrus. Feminine and ethereal on the palate, drink it now by candlelight, or throw a few in the cellar for future romantic evenings that call for a gorgeous bottle of white.
$45 “Schoenenbourg” Riesling (Alsace Grand Cru 2017)
100% Riesling planted in 1995 from a tiny plot around a third of an acre in size. The “Schoenenbourg” Grand Cru is the jewel of the charming, medieval village of Riquewihr. Its south-facing slope is established on unique “Keuper” soils of green-colored marl. With a voluminous palate, and a nose stacked with flowers and spice, this is a wine worth laying down for a few years or opening for a special meal.