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Domaine Ostertag, Alsace 2016

André Ostertag a true pioneer of Alsace, and an ardent environmentalist. After training in Burgundy, André returned to the family domaine in Alsace with renewed zeal: he lowered yields considerably and introduced viticultural and vinification techniques from other regions to his own home ground. In 1997 he brought biodynamic viticulture to his fourteen hectares of vineyards, including his flagship parcel in the Muenchberg Grand Cru. 
 
  André looks for the nuance of terroir rather than the typicity of a grape varietal. In an act of rejection against the official classifications dictated by the A.O.C., he made up his own categories: Vins de Fruit that express fruit character rather than that of a specific vineyard site, Vins de Pierre reflecting the terroir from which they originate, and Vin de Temps that rely on time and weather to encourage the development of botrytis. He ferments the majority of his wines completely dry, so their versatility at the table surpasses that of many other wines from the region. In Ostertag’s experience, a careful use of oak subtly enhances the traditional Alsatian varietals from the Pinot family, giving them greater depth on the palate. He uses oak sourced exclusively from the Vosges Mountains and, for his Pinots, prefers barriques to the traditional foudres. He rejects formulaic, scientifically engineered wines, and since going biodynamic in 1997, has been an active member of the natural farming community.
 
Andre Ostertag's father founded the domain back in 1966 and handed him the keys to the cellar in 1980, when he was just 21. André is clearly one of the most dynamic producers in Alsace today, and certainly one of the highest rated. Where in many areas Alsace has fallen behind star producers in Germany and Austria, Ostertag is one that bucks this trend. This is a family-run property comprising 12 hectares spread over more than 75 small plots of vines within five villages: Epfig (55%); Nothalten (34%); Itterswiller (4%); Ribeauvillé (6%); and Albé (1%). Domaine Ostertag have practiced biodynamic viticulture since 1997.
 
"Ostertag's 2016s are formidable! They are not as rich and massively structured as the age-worthy 2015s, but in terms of freshness, mineral expression, elegance and finesse, they are absolutely fabulous and by no means lesser wines compared to the prestigious 2015 vintage. Namely, the Pinots Gris wines are coming out great this year. They are not only dry but also full of freshness and tension, so perfect wines to have with food. The Grand Cru Muenchberg is a great wine and worth cellaring for many years. This is also the Riesling from the same terroir that is, once again, one of the finest I have tasted from the 2016 vintage in Alsace this far. I had it again in London a couple of days ago and enjoyed it during the whole evening. This wine took me on a journey, telling me about mirabelles, weathered stones and dried herbs. It is a gorgeous wine that I had to buy immediately. However, the 2016 Heissenberg from a "hot" gneiss and sandstone terroir, is also a great Riesling with unrivaled elegance, finesse and subtleness."
— Stephan Reinhardt, RobertParker.com

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