Majestic Riesling, Pinot Blanc & Gris from Ostertag’s Les Jardins range
It was André Ostertag himself who sounded the warning. “Prepare to be surprised by this new wave blossoming at the domaine with contagious energy!” he wrote in late November 2018, when announcing that his son Arthur was taking the day-to-day reins at the estate.
With the new 2019 Les Jardins wines, you can feel the crashing freshness of that new wave rolling in.
This is the fifth vintage since Arthur has been more heavily involved at the estate, and everything on this current offer has been picked, vinified and matured with this third-generation champ at the helm. Benefiting from his father and grandfather’s experience – and their extraordinarily soulful influence – Arthur is having a field day.
The sense of conviction, the free thinking, the tender love of the vines, the vitality of the wines – all of these remain. A new Ostertag harvest remains thrilling territory to explore. Reflecting that, the Les Jardins wines arrive with a different look. In fact, these will change each year, with a variation of a series of engravings specific to the vintage. To illustrate 2019, Arthur has chosen a series of oil drawings on cardboard paper by his mother, artist Christine Colin. The images combine vine leaves and deep colours, like a collection of banners brandished in glory of the vine.
It goes without saying that we’re deeply honoured to represent the boundary-pushing creativity of the Ostertag family, and the future will be full of wonders. It starts here, from the so-called Vins de Fruit up to the latest edition of the family’s singular interpretation of the Muenchberg grand cru.
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.
Harvesting began with the Auxerrois on 20th September and continued on 25th September for the Pinot Blanc. In 2019, we vinified the two grape varieties separately to better understand them before blending them for bottling. 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. It was bottled at the end of August 2020, with a balance of 13.1% alcohol and 3.6g/L of natural residual sugars – dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.
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
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 12 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 this Riesling 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 predominantly based on sandstone. They give the wine a particularly delicate, aromatic and mouthwatering character.
All the plots of Riesling Les Jardins were harvested between 30th September and 2nd October. Despite a sunny 2019 vintage with little rain, the work to preserve the coolness in the vines worked because the ripening was very homogeneous.
The whole bunches were pressed very gently for around nine hours in a pneumatic press. The fermentation started spontaneously in stainless steel tank and was exclusively conducted by indigenous yeasts. It went through complete malolactic conversion like the other wines, and was aged on its lees for one year in the same tanks. It was bottled in early September 2019 with a balance of 13% alcohol and 2g/L of residual sugar – dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.
The result is a delicate Riesling driven by white flowers, white peach and vine blossoms aromas. The mouth is round and mouthwatering, with a fine and long acidity, and a saline character on the finish. There is a real nobility in this graceful Riesling. It has a dimension close to the Vins de Pierre yet without reaching their density. – Arthur Ostertag
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 2019 was picked in three stages depending on the sector, between 20th and 26th September. It was bottled in early September 2019 with a balance of 14% alcohol and 3g/L of residual sugar – dry wine, certified organic and biodynamic.
The result is a fresh and intense Pinot Gris, with a very refined floral and slightly smoky nose, and ripe yellow fruits, citrus fruits and honey. In the mouth the complexity of the soils and the barrel vinification is felt through a combination of full body and vibrant, refreshing personality with an intense mineral structure. Best served at around 10°C, it will suit chicken salads, grilled fish and aged cheese but is also a perfect apéritif wine. It has good aging potential (around seven years) but is still best enjoyed in the blossoming character of its youth. – Arthur Ostertag