Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 1er Cru Engelgarten
Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 1er Cru Engelgarten

Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 1er Cru Engelgarten

Alsace, France 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$55.00

Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 1er Cru Engelgarten

In the wine world hierarchy of regions, Alsace is a perennial upstart. For years every top sommelier, from LA to London to Tokyo, has been singing the praises of these distinct wines from the borderlands of France, Germany, and Switzerland. And the name that most often follows that “try this Alsatian wine” is Domaine Marcel Deiss. Today’s discovery perfectly encapsulates why the Deiss label is synonymous with excellence and innovation in this region that is constantly on the rise. Biodynamic farming, natural but clean-as-a-whistle winemaking, careful aging in traditional, large oak barrels, and a devotion to the ancient Alsatian practice of field blends is the calling card of the Deiss estate, and the results are stunning. If you love ethereal, complex white wine that is bursting with intense perfume, elegant layers of fruit, spice, and flowers, and finishes with long, mineral laden textures, then this Premier Cru bottle will have you weak in the knees. It’s time to see why Alsace is the next big thing!

If you are lucky enough to spend even just a few minutes with Jean-Michel Deiss it’s almost certain that the conversation will turn to the vineyards he has spent most of his life tending. Farming, planting, growing: This is the essence of his work and of the domaine he runs alongside his son Mathieu. Though it was established relatively recently, 1947, the Domaine Marcel Deiss has familial winemaking and grape growing roots in Alsace that can be traced to the end of the 30 Years War, some 370 years ago. When Jean-Michel took the helm some four decades ago, his passion and mission quickly became a quest to return the farming to the ancient traditions that would have been familiar to his ancestors. Rather than focus on single varieties and high yields, which had become the norm in post-war Alsace, he began to systematically replant his holdings with heirloom clonal varieties, at high density, in true “field blend” fashion. Essentially this means that every parcel is planted to a half dozen different grapes, each growing in the best possible terroir for their type. And every wine that the Domaine now makes is a proportional blend of the source vineyard.

It was a risky move on Jean-Michel’s part, to say the least! Working biodynamically, with very high density plantings, and allowing cover crops while only plowing by hand is back-breaking, labor intensive, and expensive. And then you make zero varietal wines? That seems a little crazy, but the results now speak for themselves. The big, famous names in Alsace focused almost exclusively on single variety wines and labels following the devastation of two world wars. Riesling was at the top of the hierarchy, followed by Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and so on (there are over a dozen varieties in Alsace). Most producers did, and still do, make an old-school “Edelzwicker” or field blend, but these are the simple, everyday table wines of little distinction. However, for most of Alsace’s history wines were by default field blends: Each variety taking up the part of the vineyard it preferred and then contributing to the final blend that always became much more complex, balanced, and refined than the individual grapes would be on their own.

The Premier Cru “Engelgarten” that we have for you to discover today is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Beurot, Muscat, and Pinot Noir. Yes, that's right, there's even a bit of red grapes in this crystalline, yellow-green hued white wine. Exact percentages are not known, or at least not provided, though it does seem that Riesling is the dominant variety. Everything is put into the tank together, as whole clusters, and pressed slowly over 12 hours. Then the juice is moved to large oak foudres for fermentation with native yeasts and then aged for about a year.  The winemaking is hands off, “natural” but clean, and under the watchful eye of Mathieu Deiss it will continue without interruption.

Serve the 2019 “Engelgarten” in a nice, all-purpose stem, at a cool 50 degrees after a quick decant to unlock the full range of aromas and flavors: White peach, yellow apple, orange blossom, honeysuckle, star jasmine, lychee, lemongrass, white pepper, and hints of star anise all surround a core of pure, rocky minerality. Though the perfume hints at a fruity, unctuous wine the pallet is anything but, with precise, laser-like acidity and a long, but bone dry finish. With four years of age this Alsatian stunner is already very open and accessible, but will gain even more aromatic complexity and depth as it ages gracefully for another decade or so. The pairing potentials are almost limitless, from classic regional dishes like sausages and potatoes, to Indian curry, Thai street food, Yakitori, Szechuan noodles and on and on. Oh, and it is an excellent wine for roast poultry, something that you’ll see a lot of over the coming weeks. If you already were bitten by the Alsace bug, stock up. If not this is the perfect introduction to a region that is on the rise!

Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace 1er Cru Engelgarten

Daily Discovery

Build a Case is a one-of-a-kind subscription service that allows you the freedom to explore our expansive wine selection and consolidate your orders into a custom case over time — without the cost of shipping.
View all