Last November I had the opportunity to attend an amazing wine event in Paris, hosted by Vignerons Independants, an organization that promotes exceptional wines by small family vintners. While I was tasting my way through all of the delightful wines, I discovered some truly exceptional wine, produced by the wonderful Spitz family: Vins d’Alsace Spitz et Fils.
This delightful family has been making wine for 5 generations. Located in Blienschwiller, a small village on the wine road in Alsace, the Spitz family cultivates 11 hectares of vines with sustainable farming practices. They rows are only plowed every other row, leaving natural grass in between. Protecting and nourishing the vine and soil health is the highest priority. All grapes are hand picked and pressed in whole bunch, which allows the preservation of the quality and integrity of the grapes. As independent winegrowers, they handle the whole process – from vine to bottle – themselves. Their dedication and love of the wine is tasted in each glass.
Historically Alsace has been both French and German. It is separated from Germany by the Rhine river and from France by the Vosges mountains, so it is it’s own special place. It shares food and some culture with Germany, but it’s soul is distinctly French.
The Wines of Alsace (Vins d’Alsace)
Revered by connoisseurs, the wines from Alsace provide complexity and depth in the glass. This is not surprising, considering viticulture has been active in this area since as early as 2 A.D. Tucked into the northeast corner of France, the winters are cold but the summers are hot and dry. Lying in the rain shadow of the Vosges Mountains, Alsace receives some of the lowest rainfall in France. Most of the vineyards are planted on the slopes of the Vosges, facing south to southeast, to capture the optimal sunlight and warmth. Resulting in slow ripening grapes that produce complex aromas and flavors.
The Soil of Alsace
150 million years ago, the sea flowed over the area now known as Alsace. 50 million years ago the Rhineland Mountain range collapsed creating the Rhine plain. It resulted in 13 different types of bedrock in three main areas: the Vosges Mountains (granite and sandstone), sub-Vosges hills (various soil diversity) and the Rhine alluvial plain (marl and alluvial). It is believed that these various soils add to the complexity and beauty of the terroir that produce these delightful wines.
The Pinot Gris from Vins d’Alsace Spitz & Fils is grown in sandstone. Although the sandstone is very close to the granite, it produces a very different wine. These wines have more “backbone” and develop more complexity as they age. This wine is golden yellow with copper highlights. It has a floral nose with honey and wood. The wine is well structured and balanced. The nose carries through on the palette with plum and honey, with a long saline finish. It has medium acidity and lots of freshness. A remarkable example of Pinot Gris that shows how the soil adds to the structure of the wine.
The Riesling from Vins d’Alsace is grown on granite, found on the side of the Vosage Mountains. Granite allows for excellent water drainage. So, the grapes have to struggle – which they love. Wines from this area are very expressive. This wine has a lovely nose of white flowers, citrus and honey that is balanced with firm acidity and salinity. It also has the hallmark of all great Rieslings: a little petrol on the nose. It has great structure and a long finish.
Both the Pinot Gris and Riesling are excellent examples of the wine from this region, and the impact of the soil and terroir. They are the perfect wine for spring and summer. You can find them at La Belle Vie Shop.