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"The Game Of Greens"
This Bergheim terroir forms an amphitheatre that opens to the South, overlooking the great wines of Ribeauvillé, and is one of the best in the area. Its poetical name refers to the word for draughtboard and expresses the heterogeneous nature of the topsoil, which is made up of torrent deposits of sandstone, granite and sometimes gneiss, spread over a deep base of Keuper lake marl. These dominant characteristics and companion planting (Riesling, Pinot, Gewurztraminer) give the wine phenomenal length, a slightly tannic structure and power that is very lightly rounded by the hot minerality that is so specific to rolled gravel – an iron hand in a velvet glove.
Tasting notes: Dry, tight, thick, deep and tannic wine.
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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