Domaine Ostertag is one of the most acclaimed producers in Alsace, in northeastern France. Owned and operated by Andre Ostertag, the domaine includes 120 parcels on 35 acres, which are all farmed biodynamically. The domaine was founded in 1966, when Andre’s father decided to go into winemaking. Ostertag makes single-vineyard Riesling and small-barrel-fermented Pinot Gris that Robert M. Parker Jr. calls “fascinating.” Also produced are Sylvander, Muscat and Gewürztraminer. Parker calls Ostertag’s wines “some of the most distinctively delicious and thought-provoking wines in Alsace.” Among the estate’s vineyards is the grand cru parcel Muenchberg, which was producing grapes for wine in the 12th century.
Alsace in northeastern France is so close to Germany that the wines of Alsace and Germany are often confused. Both are typically sold in distinctive, slim, long-necked bottles, and are made from the same grapes. Alsace has never officially been a part of Germany, though it was occupied by the German military in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wine writer Hugh Johnson has noted that despite German influences, Alsace’s “soul is entirely French. Alsace makes Germanic wines in the French way.” In contrast to German wines, Alsace wines generally are very dry, with a higher alcohol content and riper, more scented fruit. Alsace has 33,000 acres of vineyards, many of them in the picturesque foothills of the Vosges Mountains. The grapes of the region are Sylvaner, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Pinot Noir is also grown, though it is mainly used for Rosé wines. Alsace’s most admired wines are its Rieslings, which since 1985 may be designated as Grand Crus. Some 50 vineyards in the region have been classified as Grand Crus, and are allowed to use the appellation on their labels. Unlike all other French winemaking regions, Alsace labels are varietal, meaning that a wine made of Riesling, for example, is called Riesling. Official Alsace appellations include Cremant d’Alsace for sparkling wines.
This white variety originated in Germany. It’s known for its strong flowery aromas and high acidity. Please note Rieslings can have dramatic differences as the grape can be used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling wines.