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Domaine Ostertag, Alsace 2017

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.
 
"2017 was one of the very few vintages where phenolic ripeness was ahead of technological ripeness, allowing us to harvest each plot at its optimum stage, without letting the sugar shooting up, and keeping high acidities for such a dry year. There's no weak variety in 2017 and each wine this year embodies the finest expression in its class. 2017 has made wines of flesh and concentration, powerful and energetic, with a very dry balance combined to a sweet texture like a juicy, fully ripened fruit. They are wines of volume, of mouthfeel, of structure. The perfectly healthy grapes made very pure aromatic expressions, and the acidities are high but ripe, structuring without being hard. 2017, first vintage made in large part by Arthur, might be one of the greatest ever made here, and it will probably compete with the most glorious vintages in terms of longevity."
— Team Ostertag

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