2019 Mélanie Pfister Pinot Noir 'Toujours'
Region: Bas-Rhin < Alsace < France
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: certified organic, no-till farming, clay soils; extended time on the lees, aged in steel, bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 12.5% ABV; 125 cases
Winemaker: Melanie Pfister
Domaine Pfister began operations in 1780, just outside Strasbourg. What a time to start a new enterprise! France was sending soldiers to fight in the American Revolutionary War, with its own revolution just around the corner. Wine-making in the region goes back to at least the 800's, when the village of Dahlenheim was supplying wine to the local abbey. Now, 8th gen Melanie Pfister has taken over the reins of her family's certified organic estate in Alsace, a very traditional (read: stodgy) region steeped in wine history. In addition to converting their 25 acres of vines to 100% organic viticulture, Melanie recognized the unique features of their parcels, and today a given parcel's makeup dictates which grasses, grains, and legumes are grown between vines, naturally replenishing the soil and ensuring the healthiest grapes. These days she is also following regenerative farming practices, which dictates no tilling in order to preserve the soil's micobiome.
Just before the pandemic, Mélanie decided to make a red and a white wine and bottle them under the Vin de France appellation, which permits much greater flexibility. For example, she could bottle this Pinot Noir in a Burgundy bottle rather than, as required by the AOP regulations, a Hock bottle (forget Pinot; it's hard enough to sell Riesling in those tall bottles!) This pretty Pinot comes from a small parcel of less than two acres planted in 1980 with sélection massale cuttings. We're big fans of the leaner, racier style of Pinot you find in Germany, which is how this bottling, from just over the border in Alsace, leans. Super and juicy, with bright, perfumed red fruit and forest berries, this is exactly the wine we want in our glasses for the shoulder season, with more crunch and complexity than our summer glou glou, but not as much heft as the reds we'll move into as the weather cools. Great with a slight chill, or none at all.