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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Domaine Bott-Geyl Sonnenglanz Pinot Gris

France (Alsace)

pinot gris

So this was the task – to search out the best macarons in Paris. It involved treks to what my Internet research told me were some of the absolute best choices. It was great fun, if a bit pricey for three boxes of cookies.

Then again, by all accounts, these are exceptional confections (yes, it is an injustice to use the word ‘cookie.’) I must say, they do command attention, stacked as they are in the patisserie showcases in such vibrant hues.

And with the purchases came the question of what wine might drink well with these macarons. French, to be sure. A late harvest pinot gris from Alsace should work well. Let the music begin… “sweet dreams are made of this.”

Domaine Bott-Geyl Sonnenglanz Pinot Gris 2007

Music to the taste buds. Bright gold in the glass leading to aromas of honeyed apricots, furtive hint of botrytis. Full in the glass, rich, smooth, sweetish but sophisticated, and with a lovely acidic structure. Coats the mouth nicely, but showing welcome restraint. What comes through in the end, as it should, is the wonder of the fruit. Great choice.   $$

Jean-Christophe Bott‘s winemaking ancestors date back to 1795. A young Jean-Christophe assumed control of the domaine in 1993, following time with wine producers in France, Germany, and outside Europe. He was especially drawn to the approach of Leonard Humbrecht (of the famed Zind-Humbrecht estate). By 2002 he had converted Domaine Bott-Geyl to biodynamics.

There are 14 hectares, spread over 75 plots of land in seven communes. Among them are 4 Grand Crus, of which Sonnenglanz is one. The winery is headquartered in the village of Béblenheim, in the heart of Alsace. The quality of wines has increased steadily in recent years. In 2007 Revue du Vin de France assigned the estate a second of three possible stars, a fine endorsement.

Jean-Christophe states categorically ‘everything depends on the vines.’ No amount of fiddling in the chai is going to alter poor vineyard practice. He puts great emphasis on understanding the soils and which organic processes will bring out their full potential, whether in the ploughing, the management of the weeds, the spraying of tisanes and spreading of manure, the use of treatments specific to biodynamics. Harvesting is by hand, followed by gentle whole bunch pressing. Fermentation is initiated by the grapes’ natural yeasts and may last up to six months. Nothing is added. Only after further time on the fine lees (up to 8 months) is the wine bottled. Extended temperature-controlled storage leads eventually to a release date.

The result – to judge by this one bottle at least – are Alsace wines of unusual depth and taste appeal. This one pairs very nicely with the multi-hued, multi-flavoured macarons of Paris!


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