- Rating: 94 out of 100
- Tasting Fee: Free with Purchases
- Accepts Reservations: Yes
- Reservation Required: true
Without a doubt, there are many wineries along the northern Alsacian trail that serve great wine. But Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss is near the top of my list for places that you should stop at. Midway between Mittelbergheim and the center of the Andlau region, this small organic/biodynamic producer churns out great wine, year after year. Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss has been managing their 14 hectares this way since 1989 - they’ve been doing it for so long that they had input into the actual definition of both organic and biodynamic farming for wine since there were only a few vineyards that were attempting / executing this vision back then. Organic and Biodynamic wines have been all over the map for me (some great, some bad), but these were definitely some of the better ones.
Of course, because their wine is of such quality, you can sometimes find it in the American market or in restaurants that sport a healthy white wine menu, even though their production isn’t all that high; their annual production comes in around 70,000 bottles. They have successfully grown over the past 30+ years and now own vineyards in the Rhone Valley as well! Because the Rhone vineyards are still up-and-coming, Marc’s eldest son manages and produces the wines from his Alsacian holdings (since 2007) while Marc and his younger son live in the south and manage the Rhone Valley vineyards. Don’t fret for their family though; both sites are separated only by a ~3-hour train ride. And if you were to ask me, the eldest son got the better part of the deal - it is just gorgeous here.
Once you make it into the town area, finding the actual winery (it’s more like a wine shop) can be a little tough, but if you stay true to Google Maps, you should be fine. I highly recommend making reservations to ensure that they are open and have wines available for you to taste on arrival. Once you check in at the front, you’ll head upstairs with your wine ambassador for the tasting. The size, experience, and foot-traffic is very different from USA wineries, but is very typical of smaller wineries in the less visited locations of Europe. I myself enjoy the more personal experience.
If you take a walk outside with the wine ambassador for a quick overview of the region, you’ll notice that the altitude at the bottom here is ~100m with a hill that goes up to 400m. You can also see the Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg Grand Crus nearby. Auxerrois (more fruit, less acid) and Pinot Blanc (more acid, less fruit) are co-planted in the vineyard - a planting style that harkens back to olden times when this was done as a risk-aversion method. Higher variety in the vineyard meant a greater chance something would survive a challenging growing season. When you walk through the vineyards, you can clearly see the different rocks/soil-types that the grapes are grown in: pink sandstone in Weibelsberg, black slate in Kastelberg, with marl and limestone in Moenchberg.
After the introduction to the family, the vineyards, the grapes, and the biodynamic management/production methods, it was time to introduce the wines!
- 2016 Kritt Pinot Blanc (11.50€)
- Ripe fruit on the nose that almost hits pineapple, with lots of cooked yellow fruit too. Meant to be a simple wine for a simple meal with its high acidity and refreshing profile. Pinot Blanc is 30% their production. Kritt is a very stoney place with lots of quartz in the ground and cool winds that blow through. That acidity is crazy for the amount of ripe fruit in the wine, plus the minerality adds complexity too. I can see why this is their best-seller and why they produce so much of it.
- 2017 Pinot Noir (14.50€)
- The fruit is not from their vineyard as they don’t grow any Pinot Noir. True to their beliefs though, they purchase the grapes from other biodynamic vineyards in the area. Aromas of strawberry and terroir/wildness that is indicative of biodynamic wines. The feet-crushed grapes, rustic winemaking style and low sulfite content, especially for a Pinot Noir, lead to this wild flavor that leaves you in disbelief. If you are looking for complexity, this has it with high acidity to boot. I personally don’t prefer the off-taste of biodynamic wines, but this one isn’t as pronounced as the others I’ve had in the past. You don’t need to twist my arm to offer me a second glass…
- 2016 Clos Rebberg (Riesling) (23.50€)
- Clos Rebberg has terroir of blue/gray schist with lots of small layers and is the oldest geological formation in the area. It’s interesting that Kreydenweiss replanted their Pinot Gris with Riesling because the animals would eat the grapes (Pinot Gris is sweeter with less acid and less petrol). You can feel the petrol notes here but the yellow fruit and wild flavors are stronger with high acid, a nice hint of white pepper on the finish, and good minerality. This is not a fruit driven wine - there is too much complexity to classify it that way.
- 2016 Kritt Gewurztraminer (18.50€)
- The nose is a bit prettier and higher in acidity than other Gewurztraminers I’ve had. The palate is very clean – this bottle is one that you pair in a meal as it’s not too intense that it would overwhelm its paired dish. Though, it is a bit light in intensity on the palate, so I wouldn’t choose this wine over some other Gewurztraminers from the region for enjoying a glass by itself. Gewurz means “spice” in German and this wine lives up to that with its white pepper.
- 2016 Wiebelsberg Grand Cru (Riesling) (28.00€)
- Wiebelsberg has a south-facing steep slope with soil made of pink sandstone that doesn’t retain water very well. The pink sandstone appears everywhere in the village because it’s easy to shape / work with. Women built the church here in town, which gave the area is its name: hill (berg) of the lady (wiebel). Again, some petrol varietal character but spice on the nose too. The fruit is more muted than the Clos Rebberg, though it has decent length with fresh yellow fruit, some stonefruit, and white spice on the palate and finish. High, refreshing acid gives it a nice crisp finish as well.
- 2016 Kastelberg Grand Cru (Riesling) (45.00€)
- Kreydenweiss balances the lack of sulfur used with CO2 in this wine, which is why it sometimes bubbles when you decant it. Kastelberg is very rocky (black schist) and the soil is poor, so they minimize yields to protect the vineyards. The Kastelberg Grand Cru is 5 hectares and is only Riesling (Kreydenweiss owns 1 hectare). I haven’t decanted too many white wines before, so this was a treat. That decanting does help it open up and gives it a creamier feel on the palate. Although the acid is high, this wine is still super smooth - it undergoes MLF and 18 mths aging on the lees to smooth out the acid while adding complexity, though the MLF notes were near invisible to me. There is even some tartaric acid as well from the skins because they gently squeeze the grapes for 10 hours in the pneumatic press. This wine tastes like it’s their flagship wine.
The Quality-Price Ratio (QPR) for these wines are quite good as high quality white wines in the USA traditionally cost markedly more. In addition, finding Biodynamic wines of this caliber is not an easy proposition, though it is getting better as more people practice it and get a better feel for it. I myself walked away with a few bottles, keen to share them with friends that would appreciate the ideals behind the wines in addition to the wines themselves.
For wines that are harder to find, I’ll try to include the distributor information so that you might try to reach out to them directly if you want to pursue purchasing any bottles. For Marc Kreydenweiss, the closest importer/distributor to the DMV is Williams Corner in Charlottesville, Virginia. But if you ever find yourself in that part of France, you should absolutely stop by for a visit and some education. Cheers!!
Rating: 94 out of 100