What a joy to properly immerse ourselves in the world of Arthur Ostertag!

A few years after stepping into the driving seat at the domaine, Arthur’s got the roof down and is cruising through a zone where purpose and precision meet creativity and open-mindedness. Listening to Arthur, you can hear all the echoes of his father. They share an intimate understanding of nature and an instinct for responding to its needs. And, when it comes to wine, they seem to feel its energy and mood more viscerally than the rest of us. No wonder the wines hold you in their thrall. They are the buzz of the vineyard. They are live music.

The breath on display in this shipment is unprecedented and mouth-watering. We have shipped our first skin-contact white, two takes on old-vine Sylvaner and four single-site Rieslings alongside the estate’s superb calling-card Les Jardins wines.

These wines, always some of the most charismatic and moving in the portfolio, have always had their fans. It gives us great pleasure to see more people hop onto the bandwagon with André and Arthur. It’s a joyride, and it’s going somewhere great.


2019 Ostertag Le Grand Bain $68

Les Aventures de l’Agneau Masqué (the adventures of the masked lamb) Episode 3: Le Grand Bain is the next of Les Aventures du Mouton Masqué (adventures of the masked sheep) that André did for unusual wines.
Les Aventures de l’Agneau Masqué are the story of my elucubrations, of my reverie concerning Gewurztraminer. The idea is simple: to seek the perilous balance needed to make a dry Gewurztraminer, full of energy with a bounce and ambition. This series of wines is a step-by-step representation of discovery and learning; of a different way of thinking about a grape variety in terms of its content and form!

For this third episode, I chose to vinify together Gewurztraminer (75%), Pinot Gris (20%) and a little bit of Riesling (2.5%) and Sylvaner (2.5%). Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with 20% whole bunches and lasted 10 days, with regular pumping over to ensure a smooth and homogeneous extraction. After pressing, the wine was aged for nine months on its lees, still in stainless steel tanks. The wine was bottled in early summer without filtration or sulphites.

The wine has a slight deposit but this ensures that it has a good brilliance and good resistance to air. The 2019 vintage has developed ginger aromas not found in previous vintages. – Arthur Ostertag


2020 Ostertag Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes $49

At Domaine Ostertag the Sylvaner vines have an average age of 55 years, and have been farmed biodynamically since 1998, like the whole vineyard. The vines are between 30 and 80 years of age, and half of the plots are located in single-vineyard sites. It is made from 10 small plots in total, located in Epfig and Nothalten, with five natures of soils: sandstone; clay; marl; granite; and alluvium. They have a deeply established root system which brings a surprisingly rich mineral structure for this variety which has the reputation of being quite dilute.

The whole bunches were gently pressed in a pneumatic press for nine hours. It fermented gently with its natural yeasts and was aged for one year on its lees in stainless steel tanks. It has a balance of 13.5% alcohol and 1.5g/L of residual grape sugars – a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic. The 2020 vintage was bottled on 15 September 2021.

The Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes is the totem wine of the Ostertag estate and we take great pleasure in living with this grape variety that is so demanding in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. It is an unloved grape variety that has been subjected to years of intensive production despite the fact that in reality it has all the makings of a great white wine. A small wine will become great! Though it can be kept for several years, it is in the carefree freshness of its first years that it gives the most pleasure. – Arthur Ostertag

2018 Ostertag L’Éxutoire SVV3 $55

L’Éxutoire is the result of nature. When we work with nature, we have an idea of the way it will go, but every time vintage turns out differently from what we expected. So, you have two options: One is to fight against this new dynamic; the other is to follow it and carefully learn from it.
Sometimes it happens in the vineyard or in the cellar. The sense of the Éxutoire is to learn about what we hadn’t foreseen.

Sylvaner is a whole concept in itself at Domaine Ostertag, a much beloved grape and a kind of alpha and omega. On one side it’s the roots to which we continuously return like a cultural sanctuary; on another it’s an endless playground for all kinds of experiments, a bridge towards the future, as this long-overlooked and neglected grape keeps being reinvented in the hands of passionate producers.

Here Sylvaner accounts for one-sixth of the plantings, which is about two hectares. That’s a considerable share given how overlooked it has become nowadays in Alsace. Our plots range from 30 to 80 years old and sit on different terroirs of Epfig and Nothalten, half of which are in the lieu-dit areas.

We usually blend all these plots with multiple personalities into a single wine, a sort of fundamental base. But 2018 challenged our habits on many levels, and was an opportunity to create this different interpretation of the grape under the Éxutoire series, a range of one-shot wines that initiated in 2016.

As we were about to start the harvest and making the last ripeness checks, it became clear that we would have to split the Sylvaner harvest into two distinct times, as the Nothalten plots were way ahead of the Epfig ones.

Picked one week earlier than the later batch, the Nothalten fermentations were much slower and, above all, the styles of the two lots were so different that we chose not to blend them in the end. We therefore bottled the Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes in September as usual, and kept the Éxutoire in tank for eight more months to let it finish its fermentation and enjoy a longer time relaxing on its lees. It was bottled in May 2020 with a balance of 13% and 1g/L of residual sugar. It’s a dry wine certified by Ecocert and Demeter.

It’s a Sylvaner with both density and tension, with firm acidity thanks to the early harvest, but also a complex texture thanks to the very long fermentation (18 months) and the 20 months spent on lees. The mouthfeel can be compared to barrel-winemaking with similar simultaneous oxidative and reductive processes that bring these contradictory yet complementary fleshy and tense characters.

Les Jardins        

2019 Ostertag Les Jardins Pinot Blanc $47

The Pinot Blanc Les Jardins is a blend of six small gardens of vines, farmed biodynamically, and located in the town of Epfig with a small part coming from the Clos Mathis parcel in Ribeauvillé. Half the plots are true Pinot Blanc, the other half is Auxerrois which comes, for the most part, from the slopes of lieu-dit Fronholz. They are based on three “natures” of soil: clay-silt, marl-sandstone, and a touch of granite.

The grapes were gently pressed as whole bunches using a pneumatic press for nine hours. Fermentation took place in old Burgundy barrels, with indigenous yeasts. It underwent its malolactic conversion like all our wines, and was aged for eight months on its lees, still in barrels.

The result is an uncommonly full-bodied and structured Pinot Blanc, yet bone-dry and mouthwatering. It exudes fresh and fruity aromas of yellow peaches and nectarine. A hint of hazelnut comes out with air. The mouth is thick yet lent tension by zesty minerality. It is an easy-pairing wine with food, though it will be at its best with oysters, terrines, white meat or hard-crust cheese. – Arthur Ostertag

2020 Ostertag Les Jardins Pinot Gris $64

The Pinot Gris Les Jardins is a blend of four small “gardens” of vines, farmed biodynamically, and located in the towns of Epfig, Itterswiller and Albé. These plots are based on three distinct natures of soil: Clayey sandstone (50%), loess (15%), and schist (35%). The blend is completed by several single-vineyard plots: a young (15-year-old) site; a recently acquired plot in the Zellberg’s clay-sandstone-limestone soils; a plot in the Fronholz on the opposite side from the one we bottle as lieu-dit; and any over-producing rows in the Muenchberg grand-cru that we don’t include in the top bottling.

We’ve been making Pinot Gris our own way since 1984, using 228-litre Burgundy oak casks for fermentation and aging, and taking it to a fully dry balance which is even now pretty unusual in Alsace. We never look for overripeness with Pinot Gris, which is usually the first grape we pick during the harvest. It is gently pressed with the whole bunches for around nine hours and ferments spontaneously in 228-litre Vosges oak casks, none of which is new. It stays on gross lees in the same barrels for 11 months.

The 2020 was harvested over three picks depending on the parcel, at the end of September 2020. It was bottled in mid-September 2021 with a balance of 14% alcohol and 4g/L residual sugars. It’s a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.

The result is a fresh, intense Pinot Gris with a floral, slightly smoky nose and aromas of ripe yellow fruit, citrus and honey. On the palate the combination of terroirs and gives a wine with an unusual “dry-and-fat” balance for the region, both full and tense with a true mineral length despite its identity as a “Vin de Fruit”. – Arthur Ostertag

2020 Ostertag Les Jardins Riesling $54

The Vins de Fruit are wines that emphasise the grape’s expression rather than a specific terroir expression. They are not limited to a single site or soil type, and instead embody the intricate parcellation and diversity of Alsatian terroirs that exist even in a small area like a single village.

The Riesling Les Jardins results from a blend of twelve different plots located around the winery, essentially in the village of Epfig. The soils are varied: clay, sandstone, sand and volcanic sediments. These are farmed biodynamically. Most plots are located on gentle slopes with light soils, and it also contains a varying amount of declassified lieu-dit or grand cru fruit.

We look for an unpretentious, youthful, fruit-driven wine that captures the personality of the village’s terroirs, which are dominantly based on sandstone. They give the wine a particularly delicate, aromatic and mouthwatering character.

In 2020, the climatic conditions forced us to downgrade more parcels of lieu-dit and grand cru than usual. The result is an even greater complexity in this cuvée which has gained even more mineral structure and ageing potential, while retaining a moreish and sapid profile – very easy to approach in its youth.

The grapes were gently airbag-pressed as whole bunches for nine hours. Spontaneous fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks. It underwent malolactic fermentation like all our wines, and was aged for a year on its lees, still in stainless steel. It was bottled at the beginning of September 2021, with a balance of 13.5% alcohol and 2g/L residual sugar. It’s a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.

The result is a Riesling with very delicate aromas of white flowers, white peach and flowering vines. The palate is moreish and makes you salivate, the acidity is fine and persistent, and the finish brings an almost salty sensation. There is in this wine all the grace of a fruit-driven Riesling with a dimension close to our mineral-focused wines. – Arthur Ostertag

Single-site Riesling         

2018 Ostertag Le Berceau Riesling $82

Le Berceau is a unique wine on account of its geology. It’s a blend of clay and pink sandstone, which gives the wine lacy texture and charming volume. The more it ages, the more the minerality improves the structure of the wine.

The vineyard is one hectare and I pick only 0.20Ha for this wine. The rest of the bunches are not ready to fully show the complexity of the place, so that fruit went into the Riesling Les Jardins. Every day we see the vineyard life progress, and we encourage this with a lot of plant preparation and biodynamic work to help the vines find their own balance.

Epfig is a special village in the Alsace vineyard for many reasons. Its Roman-based name to begin with, which distinguishes it from most of the villages on the wine route with firmly Germanic names. It’s also far from being the most renowned though it has the largest vineyard area in the whole region, with 550 hectares of AOC Alsace vines. Finally, while most towns hang on the steep Vosges foothills, Epfig spreads over the gentle slopes around the Fronholz hill. This is the central point of the town’s vineyard as well as our domaine’s historic terroir, a kind of resurgence set apart from the 3km-distant Vosges hillsides and entirely surrounded by flat land.

The domaine has always grown several gardens of vines in the Fronholz, but it’s only recently that we took root in the Pflanzer, another historic vineyard of Epfig, not too far from the Fronholz. Set in a more urban landscape, Pflanzer is a more intimate, smoother, more civilized kind of terroir. Its name means “nursery” for it was there that the baby vines were raised during their first year after grafting, before being permanently planted elsewhere. It’s a milieu, perfectly balanced and rich enough in clay to allow these delicate little beings to set their roots easily.

Located just down the Fronholz hill, its top part is a geological continuity of Fronholz (decomposed white sandstone, quartz and many heavy minerals), while the lower part has more clay and alluvium. We began working Riesling vines there in 2016 and they were bottled as a single-vineyard wine for the first time in 2018.

The impact of clay is obvious when comparing it to the other single-vineyard Rieslings that all come from higher, steeper and sandier soils that are rockier and poorer in clay. Here the wine is delicate and seductive, like a flattering caress, with ripe mirabelle plum and yellow peach coursing on a fine and dynamic structure. The finish is all smokiness and fine bitters wrapped in lush ripe fruit.

The 2018 was fermented and aged in stainless steel where it relaxed on its lees for 20 months. Like all the domaine wines, it was gently pressed for 10 hours, then fermented with it natural yeasts and did full malolactic conversion. It was bottled in April 2020 with a balance of 13.5% alcohol and 8g/L of residual sugar.– Arthur Ostertag

2019 Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling $96

Heissenberg means “the hot mountain”, so named for its heat-driven microclimate. This lieu-dit located in Nothalten has a particularly hot micro-climate, due to its south-facing exposure combined with a limited airflow. It’s a very steep hillside, located in a small “combe” between a granitic and a sandstony massif. As a result, it has a bit of both geological formations with mainly pink sandstone but also gneiss and a splash of volcanic ash resulting from the nearby Muenchberg.

Heissenberg is a candidate in the current process of creating premiers crus in Alsace. This is a vineyard where only a careful farming with low yields can produce interesting wines. The climatic personality of the place is so strong, that without a terroir vision, the wines result flabby and flat. But with an organic and biodynamic approach, old vines and strict yield control, the sub-soil expresses in a unique, dense and structured mineral core that brings a very special balance. This is what the label shows: when sky and earth are in perfect balance through the vine, harmony comes in the wine.

The 0.75 ha of vines are close-planted and grown biodynamically, like all the domaine. They produce small, very concentrated and aromatically rich grapes, of exceptional structure and intensity. The wines are never based on a high acidity, but rather on dry extract that brings a combination of noble bitters and salty minerality.

The 2019 was harvested by hand on 3rd October. It was delicately airbag-pressed as whole bunches for 10 hours. It was fermented in stainless steel vats with natural yeasts and aged on its lees. It has a balance of 13.5% alcohol and 2g/L of residual sugar. It’s a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.

The 2019 vintage was a sunny one, which gave racy wines thanks to dry extracts rarely achieved before. There is a nice density in the middle of the mouth. Time and aeration will allow the wines to unfold. The finish is prolonged by beautiful bitterness and punctuated by a refreshing touch. – Arthur Ostertag

2019 Ostertag Clos Mathis Riesling $86

The Clos Mathis belongs to Ostertag’s long-serving former vineyard manager, Hubert Mathis. This remarkable 0.6-hectare vineyard surrounded by stone walls is located in Ribeauvillé, in line with the grand crus Geisberg and Kirchberg. The soil is composed of a granitic mother rock and gneiss, with poor fertility. The vines are grown on terraces, on a very steep south-east facing slope which benefits from hot days and cool nights. The heat is tempered by cool winds coming down at night from the valley that ends just after the vineyard. This particular location allows slow ripening, preserving acidity and finesse in Riesling.

Hubert Mathis inherited this plot from his parents. He has entirely rebuilt it and was initially selling the grapes to a local merchant, until 1997 when he and André decided to reveal this very beautiful historic vineyard which has been esteemed since the Middle Ages and the time of the Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre.

The 1997, 1998 and 1999 vintages were dedicated to working on the soils and starting to farm the clos biodynamically, in order to reveal the soul of this beautiful terroir. The first vintage as part of the single-vineyard range of the domaine, under the Clos Mathis label, was 2000.

Clos Mathis gives birth to classic, distinguished, long-lived Rieslings. Some aspects can make it seem austere in its youth, the structural elements (acidity, mineral tannins) in the foreground while textural and aromatic elements are rather timid, but with time the Clos Mathis becomes a sappy, classically dry wine in the breed of greatest Alsatian Rieslings.

The 2019 was harvested by hand on 4th October. It was delicately airbag-pressed as whole bunches for nine hours. It was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks, and was aged on its lees for a year. It was bottled at the end of May 2021, with a balance of 13.5% alcohol and 2g/L residual sugars. It’s a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.

The 2019 vintage was a sunny one, which gave racy wines thanks to dry extracts rarely achieved before. There is a nice density in the middle of the mouth. Time and aeration will allow the wines to unfold. The finish is prolonged by beautiful bitterness and punctuated by a refreshing touch. – Arthur Ostertag

2019 Ostertag Muenchberg Riesling Grand Cru $135

Muenchberg means the “mountain of the monks” and was first planted in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks. We own 2.05Ha of which 1.65Ha are planted with Riesling. Muenchberg is one of the most unique grands crus of Alsace because of its very particular soil of red sandstone and volcanic sediments. It’s a wonderful south-facing amphitheatre of vines in a closed valley, in the Vosges foothills, protected to the west by the 901m Ungersberg peak. The altitude ranges between 250 and 300m which prevents excessive heat and helps to keep complexity in the wines. Like all the domaine’s vineyard the Riesling vines are farmed using biodynamic principles, and certified organic. We pay particular attention to manual tasks on the vines, because machines may be necessary sometimes but they will never have “man’s hand’s intelligent sensitivity.

The 2019 vintage was sunny, and gave racy wines thanks to dry extracts rarely reached before. We find beautiful density in the middle of the mouth, while time and aeration will allow the wines to unfold. The finish mouth is prolonged by beautiful bitterness and punctuated by a refreshing touch.

The grapes are gently airbag-pressed as whole bunches for 10 hours. Spontaneous fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks, where it was aged on its lees for 20 months. It was bottled at the end of May 2021 with a balance of 14% alcohol, 1g/L of residual sugar and 7g/L of total acidity. It’s a dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.

Here’s a wine of incomparable nobility and length with pulpy and delicate flesh. Here the balance in the mouth is due to the perfectly complementary sandstone and volcano. The sensual and gentle sandstone ensures a charming entry and the primitive, muscular volcano allows the wine to stretch out on a fine, interminable and almost salty finale so characteristic of Muenchberg.

Patience is always rewarded with the wines of Muenchberg. They are always brilliant in their first spring, after a long decant, but the terroir really reveals itself after at least five years of ageing. – Arthur Ostertag

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