Domaine Amelie & Charles Sparr, Pinot Noir “Jardin d'Eden”
Domaine Amelie & Charles Sparr, Pinot Noir “Jardin d'Eden”

Domaine Amelie & Charles Sparr, Pinot Noir “Jardin d'Eden”

Alsace, France 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$45.00
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Domaine Amelie & Charles Sparr, Pinot Noir “Jardin d'Eden”

Every time we offer a Pinot Noir from Alsace, I’m compelled to mention that this may be the most under-appreciated wine region in the world. Its vineyards have been mapped and classified with the same rigor as Burgundy’s, and the region has long led the way in promoting sustainable viticulture. Alsatian Pinot Noirs (along with their cousins in nearby Germany) have continued to skyrocket in quality (without the attendant runaway pricing), and in the hands of a dynamic couple like Amelie and Charles Sparr, all I can say is: Look out Burgundy. Remember that the city of Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, is at the 47th Parallel, while Colmar, in southern Alsace, is at the 48th.  At one time, the 50th Parallel was considered the northern limit for viable viticulture in Europe, but as we all know, climate change is pushing that boundary northward.

This may explain why so many German and Alsatian Pinot Noirs have been blowing us away lately, as a warming climate nudges them a little bit further up the ripeness scale, or it may just be that these wines have been hiding in plain sight all along, waiting for more wine lovers to embrace (or rediscover) what Pinot Noir is all about: FINESSE. Among Amelie and Charles Sparr’s well-placed vineyard holdings is a prized Pinot Noir plot in Vogelgarten, which produced the smoky, silky, sexy stunner in front of you today. This is a new-generation Alsatian power couple at the top of their game, as your first thrilling sip is sure to confirm. Get after it!

Superb Pinot Noir vineyards have existed in Alsace for centuries, but much of what is written about Alsatian Pinot Noir has more of a “new frontier” kind of feel, with climate change figuring prominently in the narrative. In a 2017 article for Wine Spectator, author Emma Balter chronicled the modern-era growth of Pinot Noir plantings in Alsace—from 1,425 acres in 1980 to 3,980 in 2015. Producers in the region noted that while they once had to “chaptalize” (i.e. add sugar to) their reds to get them to the desired strength, proper maturity of Pinot Noir is no longer a challenge.

As mentioned this morning, Charles Sparr is part of an Alsatian wine dynasty going back hundreds of years, and his wife, Amelie, is from a similarly historic clan: the Barmès-Buecher family. They inherited vineyards from both families—about 25 hectares in seven villages, including parcels in four Grand Crus—to create their domaine, which was founded in 2017. Conversion to organic and biodynamic farming was their most urgent priority, and they managed to become certified in 2019, but their commitment to “natural” wine doesn’t portend funky, flawed wines: The big takeaways after tasting “Legende” are that it is a Pinot of perfect ripeness and exceptional purity.

“Vogelgarten” (“bird garden”) is a south-facing site rooted in marl and limestone (Pinot Noir’s favorite soil type), reaching to altitudes exceeding 300 meters. The vineyard’s rootstock was sourced from the “Clos des Epenots” Premier Cru in Burgundy’s Pommard AOC. Grapes for this bottling were fully de-stemmed and fermented on indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, after which the wine aged 18 months in used French oak tonneaux barrels.

This 2020 is silky smooth but also well-structured, with heady notes of wild red and black berries, cranberry, strawberry, warm spices, crushed stones, and underbrush. It has quite a lot of savor (a mulchy, leafy note, which I typically associate with Germanic Pinot Noirs from places like Austria or the Alto Adige), and while it has richness it finishes clean, with a pleasing mineral/floral note. It is a beautifully put-together wine, no simple summer quaffer but rather a Pinot that could age for a bit if you were so inclined. Serve it at 60 degrees in large Burgundy bowls and you might think you were drinking a $100 Premier Cru from Burgundy. But nope! This is a wine to change minds: Put it next to some Burgundy and Willamette Valley greats and let the debates begin!

Domaine Amelie & Charles Sparr, Pinot Noir “Jardin d'Eden”




Enjoying the greatest wines of Beaujolais starts, as it usually does, with the lay of the land. In Beaujolais, 10 localities have been given their own AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin) designation. They are: Saint Amour; Juliénas; Chénas; Moulin-à Vent; Fleurie; Chiroubles; Morgon; Régnié; Côte de Brouilly; and Brouilly.

Southwestern France


Bordeaux surrounds two rivers, the Dordogne and Garonne, which intersect north of the city of Bordeaux to form the Gironde Estuary, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The region is at the 45th parallel (California’s Napa Valley is at the38th), with a mild, Atlantic-influenced climate enabling the maturation of late-ripening varieties.

Central France

Loire Valley

The Loire is France’s longest river (634 miles), originating in the southerly Cévennes Mountains, flowing north towards Paris, then curving westward and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. The Loire and its tributaries cover a huge swath of central France, with most of the wine appellations on an east-west stretch at47 degrees north (the same latitude as Burgundy).

Northeastern France


Alsace, in Northeastern France, is one of the most geologically diverse wine regions in the world, with vineyards running from the foothills of theVosges Mountains down to the Rhine River Valley below.

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