Biodynamic Brilliance from some of Alsace’s top vineyards
Amelie and Charles Sparr are ‘enfants de la vigne’, both from Alsace wine families. Fittingly they met at a wine fair, I like to imagine their eyes locking as they reached for the same glass. They decided to combine forces and start a new project that embraces Alsace’s traditions in a forward thinking way. They shared ideas about viticulture, chiefly a feeling that only through respecting nature could they hope to properly understand, and exploit, their unique vineyards. And what a collection they have, including four Grand Cru as well as vines in some of Alsace’s most famous villages. The domaine is now registered as Biodynamic, and Charles thinks the wines have gained in character, and quality, since conversion. We are very pleased to be able to introduce their wines today.
To begin with we focus on Riesling and Pinot Noir (and one Vin Orange – more details below!), both of which shine with a transparency and clarity that I found gripping. The Sparr Rieslings are dry, direct and focused, yet always have flesh to cover the bones. Though they will undoubtedly age well, their balance, silky textures and sheer deliciousness make them hard not to drink today. Charles studied Oenology at Dijon, so it is no surprise to find him focused on Pinot Noir. He was contemporary to Mathieu Delaporte and Charles Lachaux, both dab hands with pinot – as well as some of France’s most exciting young wine makers. His pinots are beautifully perfumed, with a sense of life and vitality, a coolness and lift, which puts them really in the first rank – I have never tasted such compelling, complete pinot from Alsace. On tasting them we were so impressed, we simply had to have some!
Amelie and Charles produce fantastic wines. I would urge you to give them a try.
To place your order simply email email@example.com and let me know what you would like.
The wines will be available for delivery before Christmas.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks, best wishes,
Tasting notes and scores from www.jancisrobinson.com
Riesling Sentiment 2020
From vineyards in Turkheim, Sigolsheim and Riquewihr, from vines growing on granite, limestone, and clay. As with all of the Sparr wines, native yeasts take care of the fermentations. Dry. Yellow fruits. Peach. Acacia. Slightly smoky. Dry, very nicely integrated acidity. Linear and fresh, yet this has good volume, plenty of body, and a lovely stone fruit and floral finish.
*Tasting it next to a Great Southern 2020 Riesling (also dry), it’s striking how much more rounded the Alsace is, nose and palate. Quince and tangerine – quite fleshy, for a dry Riesling. Full-bodied but with great balance and generosity. Light liquorice notes on the finish. 16.5/20
Riesling Altenbourg 2020
50 year old vines growing on limestone in the village of Kientzheim. Dry.
More citrus driven, lemons. Mineral. Super freshness and taut acid line. Good length. Stricter, more structured than the Sentiment. Dry honey. Clean and precise.
*Spice, broom flowers, pear skin. Piercing bitter orange and tart citrus. Pear-skin graininess in both texture and flavour with a very faint, underlying edge of petrol/TDN minerality/smokiness. Javelin-force directness and forward drive – this throws a powerful line. And yet the florals are there too, dancing, just out of reach. 16+/20
Riesling Revelation Schoenenbourg Grand Cru 2020
A Grand Cru to the north of Riquewihr, old vines, 60 years, growing at 380 meters. The soil is a complex mix of Gypsum, Keuper marl, and dolomite rock, covered in small pebbles. The micro-climate here is particularly good for Riesling. One of Alsace’s most famous sites, known since the Middle Ages. White peach, currant, dried herbs. Big wine! But not overly muscular. Good length, super line and cut. Touch of pearl barley, and a little leather on finish. Bit of extract on gums. Very good.
*Pale gold, with density and substance; the structural presence and breadth that is so compelling in Alsace Riesling. A rumble of thunder – smoke and gunpowder – overlaid with orange and sweet-melon fleshiness. The sweet scented lift of lemon verbena, lemongrass and jasmine. Emphatic and complex. Long, textured and still tensely folded into its youth. I would love to see how this ages. 17.5+/20
Riesling Légende Brand Grand Cru 2020
From one of Turkheim’s top Grand Cru, the vines grow at 380ms on granite soils. A vineyard known for giving mineral wines with zesty citrus notes. Creamy white currants. Almost smell texture here. Peachy yet crystalline fruit. Touch of sweetness, so well balanced by saline structure and cool citrus acidity. Good length, almost a blueberry flavour. Pure, refined, harmonious.
*Lemon brioche, white pepper, and with an interesting champagne-like toastiness and breadth on the nose and palate. Honeysuckle and cream, cardamom and Persian dried lime – grand-cru richness and power but still with Riesling edge and finely chiseled acidity. 17+/20
Jardin d’Eden Altenbourg Pinot Noir 2019
From a single site in the village of Sigolsheim, growing on limestone at 250 meters. Hand harvested, before the grapes are gently taken off their stalks and given a 20 day cold maceration. Fermentations use natural yeasts, and the wines are aged in wood, with little new. Such good colour, a glowing ruby in the glass, while the nose sings with a mélange of fruit and flowers. Taut and focused on the palate, with a fine line of acidity and lots of cool fruit, crisply ripe, really well balanced, and perfumed on the finish, this is excellent pinot noir from the more elegant and refined end of the scale. As the note below mentions, this is best decanted to allow its full perfume to show.
*When first opened and poured, there was a bit of a new-barrel smell and on the palate, new-cut box-leaf hedges dominated like a stately-home head gardener got hold of the wine and topiaried it into discipline. Nervous. Highly strung, but like an over-tight piano wire dusted with cedar shavings. I wondered if it just needed time or was simply too over-wrought. Three days later, I came back to it, and the wine had opened like a peony in full unfurled beauty. Heady, the fruit sweet and ample, soaring like a soprano voice in a cathedral, but the wine still retaining its racehorse structure and energy. I’d strongly recommend decanting it you’re going to drink it now, possibly even opening it the day before. 17.5/20
Montagne des Roses Pinot Noir 2019
From Wettolsheim, the pinot vines are high-trained and grow on clay and limestone. As with the Jardin d’Eden, this is fermented using natural yeasts with out stalks. 12 months in barrel, only a small proportion of new oak. A little richer and more earth-bound than the Jardin, with deeper red berry fruit and elements of sous-bois beginning to develop. Sweet fruit attack is balanced by soft ripe tannins and well-integrated acidity, while the finish shows a complex mis of red berry fruit, rose petal and some pleasing autumnal leaves.
Apologies, no Jancis Robinson note.
Vin Orange Farouche 2020
100% Gewurztraminer from Brand Grand Cru, made with extended skin contact, before 2 years ageing in barrel.
What a marvelous wine! Orange wines, in simple terms, are white wines made like reds – with skin contact. This extracts a certain amount of colour, as well as some gentle tannin. Such a great colour, like burnished brass. Wonderfully complex nose which leads to a beautifully textured palate, combining stone fruit with some pleasing bitterness, like an iced tea. Just lovely.
*Smells like ripe lychees, apricots steeped in honeybush tea, dried rose-petals pressed between the sepia pages of an old book, of the dust left behind in a cumin spice jar. Dry, with a very, very gentle rasp of tannins, like a feline tongue. And on the palate, dried apricots, wrinkled apple skin, and there again is that persistent note of honeybush tea. Exquisitely delicate bitterness, just a feathering, and a whisper of souk spices. A sip of stream stones on the finish. This wine has such a gentle soul. 17/20
*All notes from Tamlyn Currin / www.jancisrobinson.com