Domaine Ostertag Riesling les Jardins 2018
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Owing to the almost unrivaled complexity of its soil types, its 51 Grand Cru vineyard sites of varying sizes and expositions, 13 communal appellations, numerous lieux-diets (or named places), and the multitude of permitted grape varieties, the output of just one Alsatian producer can be tough to wrap one's head around--let alone trying to make sense out of a specific terroir. Fortunately, Domaine Ostertag has the perfect on-ramp for us.
The Riesling "Les Jardins" ("gardens," as the Ostertags refer to their vineyard plots) is a blend of their various holdings, intended to be a representative "village" wine, or a wine that is more expressive of the particular grape than of a specific terroir. Don't read to much into this, however; this wine overdelivers and is totally Alsace. When done well, dry Rieslings from Alsace deliver both power, in the form of ripe tree and even stone fruits, and freshness, from a citrus edge--often made all the more elegant by notes of white flowers and subtle herbs. Purity is the name of the game and "Les Jardins" has it in spades.
The wine spends 12 months on the lees in stainless steal tanks, contributing to its freshness and purity. The Domaine has been biodynamic since 1997--owing to the rain shadow cast by the Vosges Mountains, Alsace is prime for organic and biodynamic viticulture. André, who just recently turned over the reins to his son Arthur, when speaking to Kermit Lynch, his American importer, said that a great wine should "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." Having also had the privilege of enjoying a few older vintages of their Riesling and Pinot Gris from the Grand Cru Muenchberg, I'd have to say the Ostertag wines live up to that definition. - Brian Acton