November 2, 2012 Domaine Vincent Stoeffler
Domaine Vincent Stoeffler Kirchberg de Barr Grand Cru
Vincent Stoeffler is part of that newer generation of vignerons in Alsace — educated, very much in tune with environmental issues, strongly committed to tradition and terroir. In recent years they’ve taken on a strong profile across the region. It speaks well of wine-making in this part of France.
Stoeffler studied viticulture at both Beaune and Dijon, followed by internships in several different wine regions, prior to taking over the family vineyards in 1986. Today the domaine amounts to 15 hectares spread over 10 communes. Since 2002 all have been certified organic.
Thirty-five different labels are produced here, using eight traditional varietals of Alsace. These include a late harvest, a “sélection de grains nobles”, and a couple of fine crémants. There are two grand crus — a riesling from Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr, as well as a reisling, pinot gris, and this gewürztraminer from Kirchberg de Barr.
The soil is essentially shell-bearing limestone. The Vosges Mountains give protection from the western winds. But it is the care that is taken with the vines that raises substantially the quality of the wine production. Much of it is by hand, ensuring healthy plants benefitting from good aeration, set among soils that are vigorous and alive with micro-organisms. The aim is a low yield of top quality grapes at ultimate maturity. Harvesting begins in October and takes about five weeks. The grapes go through a very slow pressing, followed by natural fermentation, without added yeasts. Maturation is on fine lees in large, old French oak casks, for about nine months, with manual racking. The addition of sulphur is minimal.
Says Stoeffler, “I am looking for the purity of aromas and flavors, balance and personality in each of our wines, and I give the same attention to them all – from simple sylvaner to the noblest wines.” He is quick to add that he makes wines that appeal to him, not ones lead by marketing concerns.
The result — a very fine selection of wines across the board that have garnered strong and widespread praise from the French wine press. In recent years they have been reaching North America, with equal accolades.
Domaine Vincent Stoeffler Kirchberg de Barr Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2008
A warm, gold-highlighted colour in the glass. The citrus, spicy gewürztraminer aromatics are much in evidence, but refined and with a mineral undercurrent. A smooth, substantial mouthfeel, on the drier side of sweetness. Full-flavoured and inviting, charmingly well-balanced. Delicious. This is a wine experience that very much bears repeating. $$