Blanck may be a new name for CellarHand but that’s certainly not the case in Alsace. It’s getting on for 200 years since the family established a wine business in Kientzheim. For the past 30 years, cousins Frédéric and Philippe Blanck have been in control, placing a sharp focus on the vines and the soil they grow in. The domaine has increased its holdings from 24 to 36 hectares, with five grands crus accounting for more than a third. Sometimes the brilliance of Alsace – its terroir and the spice, minerals, freshness and sweet fruit it delivers – gets overlooked by the wine-drinking world. There’s little chance of that happening with the Blancks around. “We wish to share with everyone the force and diversity of Alsace; the richness of the grape varieties and the joie de vivre of its people,” they say. And we’re very happy to be the ones to help them share it.
André Ostertag is clearly one of the most dynamic producers in Alsace today, and certainly one 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%).
André is passionate and free-thinking, and his wines reflect this. Biodynamism was extended to 100% of the domaine in 1998, precluding any use of herbicides, chemical fertilisers and insecticides. All viticultural work is done manually, including harvest. In the cellar, press cycles are long and gentle, fermentations are long and conducted without artificial yeasts, and wines are left on their lees. Barrels are used for Pinot Blanc, Gris (sometimes) and Pinot Noir. There is little or no filtration of any of the wines, which rank among the finest in all of Alsace today.