Located in northeast of France between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, Alsace is something of a hidden treasure that seems to be plagued with a perpetual identity crisis, it’s a cultural mishmash of French and German, having been part of both nations. In 1870 it was passed, as a trophy of war, from France to Germany, back to France in 1918, fell to Germany in 1940 before being restored to France in 1945.
Most town and family names sound distinctively Germanic. And it shares many of its native grape varieties (Riesling, Gewürtztraminer and Sylvaner, to name a few) with its neighbors to the northeast, even the bottles share the same fluted shape.
Personally, I think that Alsace is a region whose wines are not exactly at the peak of wine fashion these days, aging Baby Boomer generation who are drinking less for health reasons and millennials who are super health-conscious stays away from wines with some residual sugar, and most people mistakenly associate Alsace with sweet wines, that’s a shame because curious and discerning wine drinkers are missing out on a good thing.
More than any wine region, Alsace offers the conscientious winemaker the opportunity to combine the unique sweet/crisp contradiction of the grape with the slatey minerality of the soil for quite unique and utterly distinctive wines. They represent wonderful value, a terrific step up the quality/cost curve, and they can age splendidly.
During my trip to Alsace I had the opportunity to visit several areas as well as participate in a tasting that allowed me to discover some of the best wines produced in this wine region. This is however only representative of the Eguisheim region in which I received a warm and personalized welcome by Valérie and Christian Beyer.
Emile Beyer is a family estate located in the heart of the Alsace wine region. The family Beyer has been an important part of the wine business in Colmar for many centuries, and has been in the village since the late 1500’s. The firm of Emile Beyer is under the guidance of Christian Beyer, who represents the 14th generation of the Beyer Family of wine growers in the charming village of Eguisheim.
Located just outside of Colmar, Eguisheim was the birthplace of viticulture in Alsace. The region is a mosaic composed of chalky marl, sandstone and clay in varying proportions from one plot to the next. The Beyer family has historically been established in the Grands Crus of Pfersigberg and Eichberg, which today represent a third of the surface area of vines planted. In their immediate vicinity are the lieux-dits Premiers Crus Hohrain, Sundel and Saint Jacques, the majority of the plots are mainly located on the limestone slopes.
Today, Christian Beyer together with his wife Valérie, oversee and safeguard the destiny of the estate, they invests heavily in quality and environmentally friendly viticulture with the first steps towards biodynamics in 2016. The experience that Emile Beyer has acquired over generations enables the domaine to classify its wines by the grape varietal and also by quality, according to the location of the vines.
From the harvest 2009, the winery is located just outside the center of the village in modern and spacious premises. Today Christian Beyer combines traditional techniques and progressiveness to produce wines of great character and very high class.
- 2018 Sylvaner Tradition: Medium nose intensity of spicy and slightly herbaceous aromas. Dry with medium (+) acidity that gives a good backbone with a hint of bitterness, perfect wine that fit fabulously with difficult dishes.
Top Range Riesling:
- 2017 Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Eichberg: The terroir of the Eichberg Grands Cru is the pride of Eguisheim. Eichberg or “Oak Tree Hill” consists of Oligocene marl and sandstone screes and was bought by the Beyer family in 1754. Medium (+) intensity on nose with aromas of citrus fruits and a lively palate marked by lemon zest and pineapple, dry with a medium (+) acidity and a long and salty finish due to limestone.
Most exciting wine:
- 2017 Gewurztraminer Alsace Grand Cru Pfersigberg: Pronounced aromas of apricot, ginger, grapefruit, lychee and rose. Off dry with a medium acidity and a long finish.
*A version of this article is published by the winetourismmag.com