Domaine Loew, Alsace, France

While backpacking through Alsace and after visiting some of the best vineyards and winemakers (Weinbach and Marcel Deiss), I decided to ask a local sommelier for suggestions. One stuck with me, Domaine Loew. Etienne Loew is driven, meticulous, passionate and has a single focus on terroir. Caroline and Etienne took over the family estate and changed the trajectory of wine making in their village while single-handedly putting Westhoffen on the map (FYI Westhoffen is in the Bas Rhine, 20 minutes from Strasbourg).


When I arrived, Etienne was as welcoming as a German can be (although he is French). He was polite but cold; serious, but jovial. It wasn’t a shock to me as I’d just spent two weeks WWOOFing in Haut Marne with an Alsatian lady. She had me cleaning horse stables and clearing pastures for her horses, not that I’m complaining! :)

Briefly, Alsace has a very strong Germanic influence by the mere fact that it borders Germany. I won't get into the politics of it here, but if you’re interested start with WikipediaRiesling is king in Alsace, followed by Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat. These are the Noble grapes (the “Grain Nobles” not to be confused with “Sélection de Grains Nobles” which are a selection of botrytized grapes). Not as respected, but with much to say, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Auxerrois are becoming more popular. Like Germany, Alsace labels it's wines with grape varietals and uses fluted bottles know as flûtes d’Alsace or vin du rhine. 

Now, Domaine Loew, under Etienne, has gone from producing a sweeter style of wine to a drier, lower alcohol and more mineral driven wine. The evolution of his wines has been incredible, with refinement and typicity becoming more pronounced, year after year. Across the board, Domaine Loew’s wines showcase the terroir of the microclimate and soil in Westhoffen and it's surrounding towns incredibly well.

Let's start with Riesling, the most important and best known white grape in Alsace.

Riesling Muschelckalck

With the first smell, you get a melange of orchard fruits, mixed with slate, and hints of fresh quince. Crisp and bone dry, it finishes with a slight lime note and a pronounced mineral character. I love it with oysters.

Soil: Mostly Muschelcaclk Slate

Riesling Bruderbach Clos des Freres

Soil Cormier

This vineyard is known for creating just ripe fruit characters and exceptional petrol notes (wine geek jargon). The soil composition is of green and gray marl with incredible biodiversity. It is organically and biodynamically farmed and with little intervention in the cellar.  The wines are slow to develop and ferment but seeing as how Etienne is a patient man, he allows his wine to sit on their lees for as long as they need to finish vinification.

Soil: Mostly Marl with various levels of mineral content and some Muschelcaclk.

Pinot Gris Bruderbach Le Menhir

While we are talking about Bruderbach, we should mention that this vineyard produces some of the best Pinot Gris. Bruderbach Le Menhir is an exceptional wine and a great example of the elegance, minerality, acidity and texture. With tropical fruit aromas of just ripe pineapple and kumquat blossoms, the wine seems to have a lush texture that is perfectly complemented by it's crisp acidity. Thirty percent of the wine is fermented and aged in Demi-Muid (600 L Oak barrel) and later blended. This process blends a slightly more oxygenated wine with a tighter and fresher feeling wine. This results in a multidimensional wine with aromas of flint, slight spice, and delicate pineapple notes.

Bruderbach Marl

Soil: Marl with higher iron content and some Muschelckalck.

Domaine Loew has other great wines that I will cover in future posts. Check out Soil&Vine to buy the wines!

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