Domaine Weinbach – Institutional Alsatian wines in a Modern Jacket 

Domaine Weinbach – Institutional Alsatian wines in a Modern Jacket.

At the foot of the majestic Alsatian Grand Cru Schlossberg lies Domaine Weinbach. Named after the rippling creek flowing through the historical vineyards, it is one of the most valued domains of the French Alsace. Our Hermen’s curiosity to Domaine Weinbach was aroused during a 2 Michelin star lunch, where Domaine Weinbach’s Schlossberg Riesling 2021 stole the show. He now visits the domain and talks to Weinbach’s winemaker Eddy Leiber-Faller.

Rich Historical Pasts

The world class wines of Domaine Weinbach boast a long history. It is the early seventeenth century when Capuchin Friars build a wall around the vineyards of Abbaye d’Etival. The walled vineyard called Clos des Capucins breaths history, as wine has been made here since the ninth century. Clos des Capucins marks the historical identity of Domaine Weinbach. After expropriation during the French revolution, it was acquired by the Alsatian Faller brothers in 1898. They restored the place to its original state. Along with his wife Colette, second generation Théo Faller expands the domain to serious proportions, acquiring plots in Grand Cru vineyards like Schlossberg, Furstentum and Mambourg. When Théo Faller passed away in 1979, his wife Colette took over the baton together with her two daughters, Catherine and Laurence Faller. Nowadays Catherine Faller runs the estate together with her two sons: Eddy and Théo Faller. 

Modern Approach to Classical Standards 

We meet Eddy Faller in the classic dark walnut covered interior of Domaine Weinbach. The appearance of the former international banker could not be more contrasting to his surroundings. Where the interior of Domaine Weinbach appears archaic and distinguished, Faller comes across open minded and laid back. From the springtime sun warmed Clos des Capucins, Faller appoints his plots in the mighty Grand Cru Schlossberg. Domaine Weinbach owns about thirty hectares of vines, mostly in or close to Grand Cru vineyards. 

Were viticulture is the domain of Théo Faller, his brother Eddy cares about the cellar. The historical cellar breathes both past and present. Next to large ancient casks, we find a modern concrete egg. Faller explains: ‘we cling to our roots, but we also experiment on new developments.’  Minimal intervention, spontaneous fermentation and minimal sulphite are keywords. Faller’s aversion to sulphite runs deep: he refuses to drink one of most famous Champagnes because of the smell of sulphite.

The Majestic Terroir of the Alsace Region and its Cru’s.

Conscious Adaptability

As outlined in our former article about Alsace, Alsace has a good hand on sparkling wines. Eddy Faller however is reluctant: ‘trends come and go. Producing crémant is different from producing wine. Producing great crémant requires focus and knowledge about the production process.’ Every man to his own trade: Domaine Weinbach limits itself to the production on top level still wine. Domaine Weinbach however seem not immune to trends: while jokingly asking about our tattoos, Eddy Faller serves us an orange wine called Macération Furstentum ∅ Intrant.

Domaine Weinbach – Macération Furstentum  Intrant 2022

Gewurztraminer & Pinot Gris | Fermentation on the skins in large cask.

The grapes for Macération Furstentum ∅ Intrant 2022 are sourced from Grand Cru vineyard Furstentum. They ferment spontaneously in a large cask. Full malolactic fermentation and an 8 month long lee aging finds place in stainless steel. The wine is bottled without clearance, filtering and sulphite. The result is a well-balanced gastronomic orange wine. Flavours like orange, tangerine and ginger are accompanied by gentle acids, a pleasant bitterness and a supportive structure. 

We reward this wine with a 90-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – Macération Furstentum ∅ Intrant 2022.

The Sunny Future of Alsatian Reds

In our former article about Alsace, we noticed an increasing production of red wines. Eddy Faller confirms Alsatian reds do have a bright future ahead. Although he successfully experiments on grapes as Syrah, his reds so fare are based on Pinot Noir. ‘Night in Alsace are cooler than for example Burgundy. The grapes achieve great ripeness with natural acids.’ Weinbach’s reds are delicate and filled with fine fresh reds fruits. We tasted Clos de Capucins Pinot Noir 2022, La Colline du Château Pinot Noir 2021 and Altenbourg Pinot Noir 2021.

Domaine Weinbach – Clos de Capucins Pinot Noir 2022.

Pinot Noir | Sandy soil | 50 – 60-year-old vines | Fermentation in stainless steel | 12 months aging in large cask and used barrel.

This fruit driven Clos de Capucins Pinot Noir 2022 is a textbook example of Alsatian Pinot Noir. It is pure, fresh, juicy, well balanced, delicate and dangerously drinkable. It is showing flavours of ripe strawberry, fresh red cherry and subtle wood related notes. 

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – La Colline du Château Pinot Noir 2021

Pinot Noir | Grand Cru Schlossberg | 40 years old vines | Granite soil | 2 years barrel aging, partly new.

Due to the fact Pinot Noir from Schlossberg may not be declared as Grand Cru Schlossberg, the wine is named La Colline du Château. Colline Du Château means Schlossberg in French. The wine bears the grandeur of a great Burgundy in a typical Alsatian style. Compared to Clos de Capucins Pinot Noir, Colline du Château is less fruit driven and more focussed. The soft and gentle red and black fruit are as clear as well water. At this stage, the wine is compact and lean. We expect the fruit around the deep mineral core to open with time. 

We reward this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – Altenbourg Pinot Noir 2021

Pinot Noir | Lieu-dit Altenbourg, below Grand Cru Furstentum | Marl and limestone | 20- and 60-years old vines | 2 years barrel aging, partly new.

Compared to La Colline du Château, Altenbourg is more open and mouth filling. Lush and ripe red fruits like red cherry, red berry, cranberry and raspberry do provide roundness and comfort. Pure fruits, ripe and fleshy tannins, beautifully structured and a long-lasting aftertaste.

We reward this wine with a 94-point DWA score.

Tradition and Innovation meet in the Vineyards and Cellar of Domaine Weinbach.

Unrivalled Whites

Although red wines are getting increasingly important, the white wines are in majority. The wines of Domaine Weinbach are categorized by varietal wines, cuvees, terroirs and Grand Crus. The varietal wines are mainly produced from grapes sourced from plots surrounding the domain. The cuvées carry the names of the Faller family (Théo, Colette and Laurence). These wines are made from selected plots on different terroirs. The terroir wines (Clos des Capucins and Altenbourg) and Grand Crus (Schlossberg, Furstentum, Mambourg and Marckrain) are made from one plot. 

The wines are produced solely from estate fruit. Viticulture finds place in accordance with the principles of biodynamics. The wines are both Ecocert (organic) and Demeter (biodynamic) certified. Compared to other Alsatian wineries the handpicked grapes are harvested relatively late. The Faller brothers are wary of early picking. ‘We are looking for optimal ripeness.’  This ripeness returns in the wines of Domaine Weinbach. The fruit is lush and splashing ripe, without showing any opulence. In term of style the wines are classic Alsatian revealing magnificent luscious fruit and simultaneously modern and digestible, showing great vivacity and freshness. 

Our Tasting at Domaine Weinbach.

Please find below our tasting notes on some of the white wines we tasted.

Domaine Weinbach – Vignes du Prêcheur 2021

Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Silvaner and Muscat a Petits Grains | Recently purchased vineyard named Prediger, under Grand Cru Kaefferkopf | Fermentation and aging in large cask.

Flowery, seductive, perfumed, beautiful mouth filling ripe fruits, peach, apple, elegant fraîcheur, good structure.

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – Furstentum Grand Cru Pinots 2022

Co-fermentation of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc | Grand Cru Furstentum | Marl and limestone | Barrel aging.

Clear white fruits, juicy, round and plush midpalate. Powerful, harmonious, textured, slightly creamy, comfortable with great freshness and a touch of spiciness.

We reward this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – Riesling Théo 2022

Riesling | Sandy soil from Clos des Capucins | Fermentation in large cask, maturation in barrel.

Fruit forward and clean. Blossom, apple, lemon, good concentration, slightly salty. Delicate and juicy, intense pressure and persistence. 

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Domaine Weinbach – Riesling Colette 2021

Riesling | Sandy soil from Clos des Capucins | Fermentation in large cask | 14 months aging in used barrel.

Lean and clean, aromatic, pure lemon fruit. Soft and juicy mid-palate, stimulating acids, dark minerality and a delicate bitterness. 

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

Zum Schloss 

As wines say more than words, we let the wines do the final remarks. We choose two wines of Domaine Weinbach expressing its essence and true value: Riesling Schlossberg Grand Cru 2022 and Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Chatherine 2022.Schlossberg is a southern exposed Grand Cru vineyard, variation in altitude from 230 to 400 metres. With a total surface of eighty hectares, it is quite a large Grand Cru. Domaine Weinbach owns the finest spots, including the mid slope terraced spot called Ste Catherine. This separate vinified spot is planted with 70 years old vines, giving concentration and complexity. 

2022 Riesling Cuvée Ste. Catharine, from the Iconic Grand Cru Schlossberg.

  • Classical Alsace

The Schlossberg Rieslings are classical Alsace wines, showing satisfying and hedonistic fruit expressions. We note perfectly ripe golden delicious, lemon curd, apricot marmalade. Although the fruit incredible concentrated, one will not find a trace of opulence. 

  • True to the terroir

The wines reveal the essence of the terroir of Grand Cru vineyard Schlossberg. Schlossberg is all about granite. The wines are defined by delicacy and a racy structure. Under the transparent fruit there is a solid mineral core, giving the wines incredible power en strength. Cuvée Ste Catherine shows of with even more concentration and depth. 

  • In a Modern jacket

Being surprisingly digestive, the wines meet and exceed modern wine drinking standards. Salivating citrus and apple acids lead into an endless and multi layered aftertaste, leaving impressions of cantaloupe, lemon curd, golden delicious and lemon thyme.

We reward Domaine Weinbach – Riesling Schlossberg 2022 with an outstanding 95-point DWA score and Domaine Weinbach – Riesling Schlossberg Catharine 2022 with no less than 96-point DWA score.

This article was written by our own Hermen Jansen. The wines of Domaine Weinbach are imported in the Netherlands by Résidence Wijnen and available through De Gouden Ton and selected partners. Picture credits: Domaine Weinbach and Dutch Wine Apprentice.