Domaine Weinbach
Visiting France's Alsace wine region, part 7

I visit a lot of wine estates, but this is one visit I will remember for a long time. Weinbach, based in Kientzheim,  is one of the star domaines of Alsace, and we were given an amazing tasting with owner Catherine Faller.

Catherine Faller

What is now the Weinbach domaine was first established as the Capuchins monastery in 1612. It remained so until the French Revolution, when it went into state ownership. Catherine Faller's grandfather and his brother brought the domaine in 1898, and her father Théo developed it to its current extent of 30 hectares of vines, from the original 5 hectares of the Clos des Capuchins.

Théo died in 1979, and since then things have been in the hands of his wife Colette, and her daughters Catherine and Laurence. Until 2010 Laurence was the winemaker, but she left in February 2010 to move to Germany with her husband and two young children.

Catherine's son Théo Leiber-Faller takes care of the vineyards, while the cellar master is Ghislain Berthiot.

Weinbach started farming biodynamically in 1998 and were certified in 2010 (by Demeter/Ecocert). The wines are made in old oak vats with indigenous yeasts, with temperature control. Some of the cheaper wines, however, are made in stainless steel.

These are quite stunning wines across the board.


Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capuchins Pinot Blanc 2011 Alsace, France
70% Auxerrois and 30% Pinot Blanc. Fine, fresh and textured with apple and pear fruit, ass well as a soft creaminess. Lively and precise with a dry finish and some mineral notes. Apparently Auxerrois is more full bodied and structured, while Pinot Blanc brings the crispness. 90/100

Domaine Weinbach Pinot Noir Reserve Clos des Capuchins 2010 Alsace, France
In 2010 the yields were down 40% because of shatter, this was harvested at 18 hl/ha. 'Pinot Noir is to red wine what Riesling is to white wine,' says Catherine Faller. 'Neither copes with mediocrity.' so she aims at low yields and maturity. This has elegant, fresh cherry and herb fruit. Bright and berryish in the mouth with a supple characterand some sappiness. Light, drinkable and quite fine. 89/100

Domaine Weinbach 'W' Pinot Noir 2010 Alsace, France
This is from old vines in the Clos des Capuchins plus a limestone clay plot in Altenbourg. Supple, elegant, fresh and cherryish with some spicy, savoury oak notes. Nicely elegant with a bit of structure and good purity. Sophisticated. 88/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Clos des Capuchins Cuvée Théo 2011 Alsace, France
Very fresh, limey, spicy nose leads to a tight, citrussy palate with some appley notes. Youthful, pretty and expressive. 90/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Clos des Capuchins Cuvée Théo 2010 Alsace, France
Tight, fresh, lemony nose is focused with great concentration. Very fresh and citrussy with good acidity. Focused and fresh; lemony and precise, with hints of apples and herbs. Very dry despite the 6 g/litre residual sugar. 92/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2011 Alsace, France
They have 8 hectares in this Grand Cru vineyard. Fresh, direct, focused citrus and white peach nose. Lovely elegant palate is pure, fresh and textured. Quite transparent with subtle white peach and pear fruit. Really harmonious. Catherine Faller says that 'Riesling is a mirror of the terroir,' and this vineyard is granite, rich in minerals, and produces floral Riesling. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Ste Catherine 2010 Alsace, France
From old vines at the bottom of the slope in the Schlossberg vineyard, which is more sandy and isn't included in the Grand Cru. Beautifully expressive and quite powerful with lime and citrus notes, and some spiciness, as well as some honeyed richness. Lively, powerful and intense with a long finish. Dry with just a hint of sweetness. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine 2010 Alsace, France
There's a honeyed edge to the elegant, minerally white peach, pear and citrus fruit. Dry and a bit pithy with good acidity and lovely purity. Restrained and a bit closed but lovely potential and a long finish. 3.5 g/litre residual sugar, 9.2g/litre acid. 95/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste Catherine 2009 Alsace, France
Taut, fine, mineral nose with some herby complexity to the lemony fruit. There's some nutty, honeyed depth on the palate with ripe stone fruit, a bit of waxiness and some apricot richness. Textured and quite long. 93/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 'L'Inédit!' Cuvée Ste Catherine 2011 Alsace, France
This is one of a kind – a mix of sweet and dry styles, with an over-ripe botrytised portion, 15% alcohol and 22 g/litre residual sugar. Made from the very best plots of Schlossberg. Off dry with nice texture and notes of melon, spice and lime. Very pure with some sweetness. 95/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 'L'Inédit!' Cuvée Ste Catherine 2009 Alsace, France
18 g/litre residual sugar. Wax, apples and honey on the nose. Textured palate with just a hint of sweetness, and  notes of pith,citrus and melon. Tight, spicy finish with lovely acidity. Great balance. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Cuvée Ste Catherine 2010 Alsace, France
From the Clos and also Schlossberg. Lively grape, honey and spice nose. Textured palate with melon and grape. Bold, rich and textured yet fresh at the same time, and hints of apricotty botrytis. This gains meat and truffle flavours with age, apparently, and it's a wonderful wine. 15 g/l residual sugar. 95/100

Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Altenbourg 2010 Alsace, France
A lime/clay lieu dit below Furstentum. Very ripe and sweet melon and honey nose. Sweet open palate is honeyed and rich with a lovely spicy finish. Ripe, rich and long. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée Théo 2010 Alsace, France
Lovely refined aromatic nose of spice, rose petal, grapes and lychees. Subtle and profound. The palate is fresh and delicate with lychees and melons. Really beautiful and precise, and just off-dry. Brilliant wine. 96/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvée Laurence 2009 Alace, France
From the bottom of Altenbourg. Textured, bold and rich. Viscous and off-dry with lovely grape and melon characters. Rich, warm, soft and intense with great depth of flavour. 92/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Altenbourg 2010 Alsace, France
Honeyed, rich and bold with sweet melon, apple and pear fruit as well as some mineral notes. There's some grapiness, and a bit of lychee, too. Sweet and balanced with a lovely mineral dimension. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Furstentum 2010 Alsace, France
This is higher altitude that Furstentum and has a bit of sandstone. Beautifully pure and precise with lychee, pear, melon and spice notes, and a lovely texture. Restrained and off-dry with some red grapefruit notes. Beautiful precision here. 45 g/l residual sugar, 6.4 g/l sugar. 96/100

Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Trie Spéciale Vendanges Tardives 2009 Alsace, France
Very rich, spicy and aromatic with powerful flavours of apple, melon and grape. Lovely texture and sweetness with nice weight and depth. Bold, powerful and sweet. 94/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardive 2010 Alsace, France
Beautifully open with sweet lychee and rose petal aromas, as well as ripe grapes. Sweet, fresh, pure palate with good acidity. Rich, melony and powerful with lovely balance and purity. Complex and crystalline. 95/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Furstentum Vendanges Tardive 2009 Alsace, France
Very subtle and broad textured, sweet and quite mineral. Lovely purity and depth with a silky texture, and a yeasty trappist beer sort of character. Subtle and powerful showing balance and restraint. 96/100

Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg SGN 2006 Alsace, France
Lively with sweet citrus, lime and spice aromatics. Very pure, lively and precise, with an intense, zippy palate. Lovely acidity. Lemony with attractive melony richness, and notes of orange blossom and apricot. So long and precise. 97/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Altenbourg SGN 2010 Alsace, France
Lovely pure nose of grape, honey and rose petal. Textured, sweet palate with lychee and grape notes with nice precision and purity. Candied citrus peel and jelly, too. 96/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Furstentum Grand Cru SGN 2006 Alsace, France
Honeyed with lychee and grape notes, and lovely depth of fruit. Taut but viscous with a lovely mineral dimension. Spicy, broad and lively. 95/100

Domaine Weinbach Cuvée D'Or Pinot Gris Altenbourg Quintessence de Grains Nobiles 2008 Alsace, France
Powerful, intense and lively with amazing acidity and ripe apple fruit, with grapes and spices. Really intense wine with sweetness and precision. An amazing experience of flavour. 96/100

Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Mambourg Cuvée d'Or Quintessence de Grains Nobiles 2008 Alsace, France
Rich, sweet and viscous. Honeyed and broad with complex crystalline fruits. Super-concentrated with spice, lychee, grape and apricot. An eternal finish: an amazing wine. 97/100

Part 1, Paul Blanck
Part 2, Clement Klur
Part 3, Schlumberger
Part 4, Zind Humbrecht
Part 5, Albert Boxler
Part 6, Dirler-Cadé
Part 7, Josmeyer

Part 8, Weinbach
Part 9, Hugel
Part 10, Léon Beyer


See also: pictures from the vineyards of Alsace, part 1, Paul Blanck

Wines tasted 10/12  
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