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2011 Ostertag "Vignoble d'E" Pinot Noir
To call André Ostertag a revolutionary winemaker is to tell just half the story. He is a pioneer, certainly, but also an ardent environmentalist (as demonstrated in both his wine and his sculpture, another passion). 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. The 1996 vintage marked his first collaboration with KLWM, and the following year he brought biodynamic viticulture to his fourteen hectares of vineyards, including his flagship parcel in the Muenchberg Grand Cru. There is poetry to Ostertag’s practices. He 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. As he so beautifully explains in Kermit Lynch’s Inspiring Thirst,…true quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us. It is not locked inside a formula. Its essence is subtle (subjective) and never rational. It resides in the unique, the singular, but it is ultimately connected to something more universal. A great wine is one in which quality is contained. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other, and because of this fact it will be atypical, or only typical of itself. (p 279)
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