…true quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us. It is not locked inside a formula. Its essence is subtle (subjective) and never rational. It resides in the unique, the singular, but it is ultimately connected to something more universal. A great wine is one in which quality is contained. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other, and because of this fact it will be atypical, or only typical of itself.
So says winemaker André Ostertag in Kermit Lynch’s Inspiring Thirst (page 279).
An avid environmentalist, Ostertag went biodynamic in 1997 on his fourteen hectares of vineyards in 80 separate plots including his flagship parcel in the Muenchberg Grand Cru. As a practicing biodynamic winery, all wines use native yeasts, and vineyard work and harvesting is done by hand. They use no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides and instead rely on other techniques to build a healthy ecosystem on the farm as a whole.
Ostertag wants to bring out the terroir ,and to that end he has made up his own categories which are distinguished by color coded labels:
–Vins de Fruit express fruit character rather than a specific vineyard; these wines have green labels with dancing vines on them and are meant to be enjoyed while young
–Vins de Pierre reflect the terroir where the grapes grew; labels show a single vine and the wines can be enjoyed immediately or cellared
–Vin de Temps show time and weather that encourages the development of botrytis; these should be cellared for 20 or more years.
For today’s French #Winphiles event with a focus on biodynamic wines of France, we are celebrating with BUBBLES — a cremant from Alsace that is as good if not better than any bottle of Champagne you ca find at this price point — and in a similar style as well.
According to their website, since 1995, they have brought “an environmentally-friendly approach to their vines. No synthetic substances are used in the vineyards, and the utmost respect is shown to the natural cycle of the vines and their soil. Harvesting and sorting of the grapes is entirely manual, there is very little manipulation in the cellar, and no oenological products are used (except for a minimal dose of sulfites) in order to respect the grape’s quality to the maximum. This philosophy quite naturally encouraged them to start applying biological and biodynamic methods to their estate in 1999. This approach respects the environment, the consumers’ health, and, primarily, the personality and identity of the wines from the best official appellations. It is approved by Ecocert, the inspection body certified by the French Ministry of Agriculture.”
2016 – Domaine Osterag – Riesling “Vignoble d’E” Vin D’ Alsace SRP under $20
I had tasted this before as a sample and enjoyed it so when I saw it at Wine House LA and noticed it was biodynamic, I purchased it.
All of their Rieslings as well as Sylvaner, Muscat, and Gewurztraminer are aged in 100% stainless steel. All their wines except the Gewurtz are dry. The riesling vines are 30 plus years old and grow in gravel, sand, silica, and clay soils. André’s wife, Christine Colin-Ostertag, painted the image on this label and others.
Color: Pretty golden color, full of light, it catches and reflects the light.
Nose: Petrol, resin, white flower, tuberose, tons of minerality, slate, wet mud, wet clay,
like being in a floral garden in the rain, it is really engaging, enticing, and exciting.
You get all the floral notes as well as the smell of the stone, the traditional petrol is foundational, but not predominate.
Palate: Bright clean, playful, piney, citrus.
May be a wine for IPA lovers…
It has piney resinous floral notes. lengthy finish is of apricot. It is a bit thin, but there is a roundness. The wine has a really nice clean finish.
Pairing: Gruyere is the cheese for this wine. It would be great with a quiche and salad. Great with the salad lyoniesse. Good with the soufflé’s, but was better with the salad. The spinach has a lot of minerality that works well with the flavors in the wine. Fine with the scallops, but they were a bit rich, and overpowered the wine.
Domaine Mittnacht Freres Cremant D’ Alsace – Extra Brut – SRP under $25
60% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc, 10% Riesling, 10% Pinot Gris, 10% Pinot Noir
Sample for my review consideration
This Cremant tastes very similar to Champagne.
Color: Pretty, golden, glistening in the glass, very light pelage, they are not that persistent, but when they fade, it is still a lovely beverage.
Nose: Yeasty bread, almonds, almond croissant, golden delicious apple
Palate: Bubbles are pleasant, not biting, it is very balanced, there is nothing on the palate that overpowers or stands out, balanced smooth and delightful were all adjectives that came out of our mouth making us come to the conclusion that it is more of an experience than a flavor profile.
Pairing: I want oysters and Sue wants caviar but we lack either, however, it is so good with the salad, the nose really blooms when paired with the salad.
Who knew that bacon went so well with sparkling wine? Sue asked.
Then we remembered our post with fried chicken and sparkling wine: The salt, the crunch, the fat really is a great friend to the wine. The goat cheese and nutmeg lent a light richness to the wine. It was also fabulous with the coquilles St. Jaques. The dish is so rich, the sparkling wine cuts through it and elevates your senses. The bubbles attack all the richness and bring you down to Earth. It was so energizing the combo is like
being on a ski slope and going down hill super fast.
Join the French #Winophiles for our discussion TODAY Saturday at 8am Pacific! Here’s a sample of what we’ll be talking about this month as the French #Winophiles learn what biodynamic wine has to offer.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla whips up “Learning about Biodynamic Wines + M.Chapoutier Wines with Some Cross-Cultural Pairings.”
- Jill from L’OCCASION shares “Lessons From A Biodynamic Winemaker In France”
- Wendy at A Day In The Life On The Farm reminds us about “Eating and Drinking Responsibly”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells us how “French Biodynamic Wines get Crabby.”
- Jeff from foodwineclick discusses “Our Biodynamic French Friends”
- Kat from Bacchus Travel & Tours tells us how “The #Winophiles Unlock the Mystery of Biodynamic Wines”
- Jane cooks things up at Always Ravenous and shares “Why You Should Give Biodynamic Wines a Taste.”
- Nicole from Somms Table shares “Somm’s Table: Cooking to the Wine: Marcel Lapierre Morgon with a Hearty White Bean Stew”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “ Biodynamic Bordeaux- Nobody’s Perfect But The Wine Is Fabulous.”
- Susannah from Avinaire joins us with “Biodynamic Wines Crémant D’Alsace“
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles entices us with “Fabulous French Biodynamic Wines and some exquisite pairings”
Pinny Tam of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings asks “Why Pair Biodynamic French Wine with Cantonese Food?”
- Host Gwendolyn on Wine Predator presents “Navarin French Lamb Stew with Organic, Biodynamic M. Chapoutier “Les Meysonniers” and “Still and Sparkling: 2 Biodynamic Wines from Alsace #Winophiles”
Join us the Third Saturday of the month for our twitter chats and check out our blog posts! On February 16, 2019, Wendy Klik of A Day In The Life On The Farm hosts our exploration of Provence and encourages us to seek wines beyond the pink — even if it’s just after Valentine’s Day.
For the rest of the year, we plan the following:
- March 16, 2019: Women of Champagne | Host: Julia Coney, Julia Coney
- April 20, 2019: Chablis | Host: Liz Barrett, What’s In That Bottle?
- May 18, 2019: Gérard Betrand Wines Languedoc- Roussillion | Host: L.M. Archer, L.M. Archer
- June 15, 2019: French Cheese & Wine | Host: Martin Redmond, ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- July 20, 2019: Loire Reds
- August 17, 2019: French Basque Country (or Jurançon) | Host: Lynn Gowdy, Savor the Harvest
- September 21, 2019: Corsica | Payal Vora, Keep the Peas
- October 19, 2019: Cahors | Host: Nicole Ruiz Hudson, Somm’s Table
- November 16, 2019: Rasteau with Thanksgiving| Host: Michelle Williams, Rockin Red Blog
- December 21, 2019: Vouvray | Host: Jeff Burrows, FoodWineClick
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I’m with you Gwendolyn. I much prefer Cremant over Champagne. Thanks so much for hosting and for bringing attention to this important subject.
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Well not all of them! But I’m super excited about this biodynamic creamy cremant! I would definitely look for it and buy it.
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Ostertag is an interesting character, fond of the wines. Thanks for hosting and providing so much great information in both of your articles Gwen! Glad you chose biodynamic (and also in other groups).
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Yes, he is! I’d love to learn more about him and his artist wife also. He seems as quotable and interesting at Randall Grahm!
It seems like he is! I’m now very interested in finding and tasting more of his wines!
Love your opening quote by Ostertag. I just purchased “Inspiring Thirst” on Amazon. Thank you for hosting and highlighting biodynamic wines! I will be flipping around more bottles in my future looking for that biodynamic certification.
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Yes that quote is “inspiring”! I’m interested in reading that book as well.
I love the characterization of wines by fruit, terroir and time — cool concept!
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I thought that was a really interesting and unusual concept as well and it immediately made sense!
Thank you so much for leading us into this conversation on biodynamics. I will be looking up “Inspiring Thirst!” This has been a subject that has fascinated me and I love hearing all the different perspectives!
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