Alsace 101: Alsace’s Natural Wines
April 24, 2017
We say Alsace wines are of “pure expression” because of their ability to so precisely express their fruit and terroir. We also say that because with 15% of the producers practicing sustainable, organic or biodynamic agriculture, Alsace has been the most committed to organic and biodynamic farming of any French region.
Alsace held its first organic fair in 1981—just 11 years after the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. And the region is still moving forward in its mission to practice and promote natural farming. Last year, Alsace Crus et Terroir (ACT) got its act together with a new association of 19 producer-members to not only promote the region’s diversity and excellence, but commit to low-intervention agriculture and encourage biodiversity in the vineyard.
Making “natural” wine in Alsace is diverse and diversely interpreted. Some producers, such as Christian Binner and Jean-Pierre Frick make natural wines without using sulpher dioxide or filters to encourage the most pure expression of the fruit. Producers such as Master of Wine Olivier Humbrecht and Andre Ostertag are practitioners of biodynamics, the holistic, eco-system-driven approach to farming founded by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. And many producers put their own spin on it: Philippe Blanck of Domaine Paul Blanck, a tai-chi devotee, listens to the vibrations in the vineyard and winery to optimize his wines’ potential.
With Alsace’s diversity of producers, styles, terroir and wines, there is no shortage of stories to tell about how this region is leading the way to a greener future.