2017 Lucas Rieffel 'Rock' Riesling
Region: Mittelbergheim < Alsace < France
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified biodynamic farming; steep hillside vineyards on chalk & Limestone soils; traditional élevage in large, 2,400-liter wood barrels; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Lucas Rieffel
We love this overview of the producer from his importer: "Lucas Rieffel’s winery is in the village of Mittelbergheim. A place that feels like it’s close to somewhere else, like Heaven’s Door. Somewhere special, where something special is happening. That something is a group of winemakers that has developed a loose collective approach to modern Alsace wine making. The group includes Lucas Rieffel, Jean-Pierre Rietsch, Catherine Riss, André Kleinknecht and Antoine Kreydenweiss from nearby Andlau. The individuals come with different experience, influences and reputations, but have somehow developed a fresh way forward. Associated with the group are several local and not-so-local artists that are involved in designing graphics around the different wines. We call it The Mittelbergheim School."
Mittelbergheim is in the Bas Rhin (the Lower Rhine) department in Alsace. It is approximately 25 km south, southwest of Strasbourg and is a “wine village” with around 650 inhabitants and 20+ winemakers. Multiple generations of the Rieffel family have lived in Mittelbergheim, and the family house and buildings date to the 15th century. While the family has been making wine for home consumption for eons, Lucas is the third generation to bottle and sell their good juice. So you could say that Lucas has wine in his blood -- and that he's a leader in natty wine, given that his group helped to set up and consolidate the natural wine (vins nature) movement in Alsace, with its focus on expression of terroir through organic farming and minimal messing around with the pressed grape juice. The domaine has been fully certified for organic farming since the 2012 harvest, with the conversion starting back in the early 2000’s.
Certified organic, zero-zero Riesling (rare -- the French and Germans are famous for sulphering the s^*t out of their wines) that also happens to be made in the old-school way —large wooden barrels, no manipulation -- this is classic and excellent Riesling, the kind somms and wine geeks drool over: bone-dry with citrus blossoms, fuzzy peach skin, petrol, white flowers and intense layers of crushed chalk and wet rock. It's gorgeous upon opening, but with 15 minutes in a decanter or glass, it becomes even more aromatic and minerally. The region’s cool climate and rocky limestone soils drive a distinctive lean, crisp and often angular character in the wines that puts us in the winter frame of mind.
If you're on the Riesling train (and you should be), pounce on this wine, for drinking now and over the next few years and far beyond. It’s an incredible value for the quality and depth, and will only get more beautiful with age. Don those lederhosen and drink Riesling!