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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Domaine Josmeyer Les Folastries

France (Alsace)



The experience of a wine is very much tied to the setting where it is uncorked and poured. In this case in the shadow of a lighthouse, just my wife and I, after an hour’s walk near the shoreline to reach it. On a wonderfully warm day in September. With picnic in hand. It was a special day to begin with, and the wine made it even more so.

Domaine Josmeyer Les Folastries 2005

There is much to be said about the attributes of this wine, but foremost, on this day, was its nature as the perfect compliment to the fall sun, the scenery, the spread of food.


Dry, yet full and rich with flavour, at the same time fresh, with a gentle acidity. There are notes of spiced fruit, of lychee, both on the nose and in the mouth, and a restrained, elegant creaminess that seems to coat the experience as well as the palate. Nothing overstated, nothing overpowering, except the urge to refill the glass. More than anything, a wine to linger with, savouring the world that surrounds it.  $

This is my second Alsace wine in a row to bear contemporary artwork on its label. Here it is an image by Strasbourg photographer and painter Klaus Stöber. The label design is a reflection of the domaine owner’s love of the arts, as is the name of the wine – Les Folastries, from a 16th century book by the French poet Ronsard. Says Meyer, “it seems to me that there is a kind of osmosis between a wine and a work of art. This work then becomes a visual expression of the character of the wine and the intimate thoughts of the wine-maker who made it… In creating these labels I have tried to put imagination at the service of wine.”

JEAN MEYER obviously puts a lot of such thought into his wines. He undertakes winemaking, he says, “with humility and pleasure.” And has been doing so since 1966 when he took over the operation of the winery, in his family since 1854. These days he shares the duties with daughters Céline and Isabelle, nephew Philippe, and son-in-law Christophe Ehrhart, now Managing Director. There are 25 hectares of vineyards, supplemented by grapes from a few growers nearby. All are biodynamic.

There is a broad range of wines (including two grand cru bottlings). Les Folastries is part of what is called the Artists’ Series. Grapes are picked by hand, then gently whole bunch pressed. Fermentation is in stainless steel and relies solely on the grapes’ natural yeast. (For some wines it is in 1,200-litre oak ‘foudres’, in use since 1895… no oak notes there!) It is fermented to the dryness typical of the Josmeyer wines.

After gentle filtering, the 2005 vintage found its way behind Josmeyer’s atypical labels in the early spring of 2007. This particular bottle eventually showed up on the laneway leading to an artist retreat in Brigus, Newfoundland. For our trek to the lighthouse started near a cottage that had once been home to the atypical American painter and print-maker Rockwell Kent. It drank very well in these artistic environs.










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