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" Sweet, complex and exotic!"
This magnificent terroir is situated in the heart of a geologic fault with hard Jurassic limestone and Triassic marl. These formations, rich in fossils, have formed a shallow clay-limestone soil that is red (ferrous) and rich in limestone rock, forcing the vine roots to dig deep for nourishment and water. Due to its southern exposure, its distance from the Vosges limit, and its isolation, the microclimate of Altenberg is very warm, dry, and nearly over-exposed. Ripeness levels, often enhanced by noble rot, are exceptional, resulting in a wine whose co-planted varieties are dominated by their terroir.
Tasting notes: A wine with such perfect elegance and lightness... Vibrant, creamy and melted, rich and yet acidic on the palate - where everything is blended in a magical synthesis: grape varieties and clay, winemaker and limestone, fruit and pink sandstone, vintage and depth.
96 / 100 James Suckling
This is a very rich and layered white with lots of peach-tart, mineral, spice and almond aromas and flavors. Full body. Sweet. Very flavorful, off dry and intense. A blend of biodynamically grown white grapes from the region. Drink or hold. James Suckling
96 / 100 Vinous
Deep golden-yellow. Orange marmalade, lemon curd, honey, orange zest and sweet spices on the knockout nose. Dense and heavy right now but offering lovely ripe pomaceous and tropical fruit flavors complicated by a touch of herbs. You can tell there is a familial link to Deiss’s Berckem wine; this is not unlike that one, but much richer, deeper and denser. Finishes zingy and fresh, with citrusy acidity nicely framing hints of caramel on the long finish. This is a knockout already, which is atypical; in my experience, you need to wait for this Deiss wine to show its full potential, and I’ve been fooled by it before when tasting it young. But not this time.
Domaine Deiss's wines are without doubt among the most exciting of the region. The domaine has long focused on field blends so as to produce wines which reflect the terroir on which they are grown more than the individual grape variety, and in doing so Deiss has forced changes on a region which was known only for varietal wines thirty years ago. For many years this consisted mostly of the 'Alsace' blend at the entry level, and then a series of wines from specific sites which Jean-Michel called his 'level of Premier Cru' wines.
Now, having expanded the vineyard area, they have introduced a series of 'village-level' wines which are produced in the same way - from sites with several varieties planted together which are picked and vinified together too. All of these are immensely impressive and worth experimenting with - they each have a definite and unique character, and are some of the most fascinating white wines in the world. Of course we have favourites, and ours are probably Zellenberg at the village level, and Engelgarten at the level of premier cru - but like Burgundy, the complexity is best embraced rather than trying to simplify - all these wines are worth trying, to find your own favourites and to understand the bigger picture: start here!
Deiss may be a contrary character himself, not always in tune with other producers in the area, but the quality in the wines really does speak for what he has achieved.
The wines from the original vineyards are all certified organic and biodynamic, but as the domaine has recently expanded from 27 hectares to 40, some of the new vineyards have not yet achieved certification.
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