Reviewed by Jancis Robinson for the Financial Times in their 6th December 2019 article, Stunning White Wines for the Festive Season (see blue link below).
This small co-operative, founded in 1954, has 110 members and 200 hectares of vineyard in the Haut-Rhin, nine kilometres from Colmar. Their wines are vinified using only their members' grapes, with a focus on expressing the rich diversity of Alsatian soils. Winemaker Nicolas Garde started at the winery in 2004 and his influence continues to be seen in the way the wines improve with each vintage.
Sheltered by the Vosges Mountains, the Alsace wine region has a semicontinental climate which stays sunny and dry throughout the growing season, which extends the ripening period for the grapes. The slopes surrounding Hunawihr, a picturesque village of half-timbered houses and a 14th century church, are some of the most celebrated in Alsace for grape-growing. Cave de Hunawihr’s fruit is sourced from 25 year-old vines grown in vineyards, located at 250-320 metres altitude, which run along the south and south-east facing hillside slopes around the village. The vineyards cover an area of 36 hectares, located on a geological fault line across Ribeauvillé, which gives soils composed of clay limestone and marl with overlying chalk gravel.
The 2018 vintage was very good. Budburst was later than normal however a very hot summer allowed harvest to begin towards the end of August. Yields were higher than average and the grapes were of a high quality.
Each parcel was individually selected to ensure the best quality for this Réserve wine. Fermentation took place at temperatures of 16-18°C for three weeks with local yeasts. The wine was then aged on its fine lees in stainless-steel tanks for three months before careful filtration. Malolactic fermentation was not allowed to take place.
Residual sugar = 8.7g/litre.
This wine is an elegant straw yellow in colour with youthful tints. The nose is complex with aromas of citrus, pear, white flowers and a touch of minerality. The palate is lively and is bursting with citrus flavours. The finish is long and refreshing.
ABV = 13.5%.
Josmeyer was founded in 1854 by restaurant owner Aloyse Meyer who set about building on his father’s work in the wine trade. Since then, the estate has passed through 5 generations of the Meyer family, with Jean Meyer responsible for switching the entire estate to organic and biodynamic culture. He is credited with elevating the estate to one of Alsace’s greats. After his death, his daughters Celine and Isabelle took over running of the estate.
The 28 hectare estate is situated at Wintzenheim, and benefits from low annual rainfall, some of the lowest in France. Riesling and Pinot Blanc are given the largest sections of the estate, with Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer also growing here. 5 distinct terroirs make up the estate, 2 of which have achieved Grand Cru status: Hengst and Brand.
Once hand picked, the grapes undergo gentle pressing followed by natural fermentation in 100 year old casks, where they also receive some lees ageing. Josmeyer’s wines are characterised by freshness, complexity and minerality, with each of the 5 terroirs contributing to different expressions of the grapes. These are true wines of character, and though their labels may suggest a certain playfulness, they are certainly serious wines.
Residual sugar = ~5g/litre (ie just-about fully dry, sugar just becoming detectable).
Riesling Le Dragon Domaine Josmeyer is a dry, pure, biodynamic Riesling with citrus notes, subtle texture and racy acidity. Inspired by the local legend of a dragon which fought the sun, lost and retreated to the cave at the top of the Drachenloch vineyard - where this wine is grown - to die. The cave shelters the southwest-facing slopes creating one of the warmest micro climates in the area, known as Petit Senegal. This is a dry style of Riesling characterised by citrus fruit flavours and an acidity well balanced by the body.