Spotlight on Alsace: Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim 2005

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Jean-Michel Deiss is a poet amongst poets. He articulates his philosophy of the vine with such grace that it is hard not to be drawn into his passion. For Deiss Alsace has been robbed of its memory by history. Yet the contingencies that led to the muting of Alsace’s diverse geologies and many terroirs in the past is now giving way to efforts from Alsace’s greatest growers to learn what each place has to say. Deiss is at the forefront of this reemergence of memory from history and is one of the most daring and unconventional of the lot.

Blends or Single Varietal?

Deiss generally eschews the traditional varietal wines and fully embraces complantation. This means that Deiss likes to blend the grapes of several varieties that have come to grow together in the same vineyard. As such, this particular “Pinot Blanc” actually includes some chardonnay, which seems apropos since the varieties look very similar. Deiss’ approach seems to bring out a tremendous minerality in his wines, which is particularly evident in this Pinot Blanc which has a mineral streak uncommon for the variety.

Pinot Blanc is not generally understood to be one of the noble varieties and as such is generally not found in any of the Grand Cru sites in Alsace. This wine is an exception and as such the Pinot Blanc vines benefit from the Bergheim Grand Cru’s alkaline limy soils, which seem to have provided great spicyness and minerality here. Bergheim is also one of the northern most Grand Cru sites in the part of Alsace called “Haut-Rhin”. I’d like to attribute the wine’s dryness to the more northerly climate, but Alsace can produce outstanding lean and linear dry wines from almost any Grand Cru site. I think, rather, that it is Deiss’ winemaking and his blending that has made this wine so unique.

Pinot Blanc that Tastes Good

A subdued nose, which is typical for Pinot Blanc. However, with air this becomes surprisingly expressive, mostly of citrus. The palate is zesty and higher acidity than both the Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris grapes but the wine is also well balanced and nicely finessed. More than anything the wine tastes alive and has an exciting spicyness combined with minerality. I think this is fantastic wine that is extremely complex for the price point. It is also distinctive and unlike most Alsatian Pinot Blancs. That alone is worth the price of entry.

Excellent
$38 at Everything Wine

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