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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.
"Vintage 2016 is now emerging victorious from all the ordeals that it went through. It has all I like in a wine, the transparency and the purity of a mountain lake, a sensual texture and a long saline imprint from the rock of the origins. But patience will be required, because the bottling shook them a bit. The Rieslings are simply splendid and have nothing to be ashamed of compared to their glorious predecessors... and what can we say about the Pinot Noir, other than it is in my opinion one of the greatest vintages to date at the domaine.
In the end, 2016 turns out to be a real little gem, and once it comes out of its gangue, this vintage has the sparkle of a diamond, a subtle charm and flair which sets it far from the exhuberance of the 2015 - except for the number of years they both have ahead of them."
  — André Ostertag, August 2017
  *Wines available late March 2016

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