ALSACE - FRANCE
“No other single vineyard in Alsace comes close to Rangen for sheer force of personality, and if I was asked to nominate any vineyard anywhere in the world as producing “the ultimate terroir wine”, Rangen de Thann would be it.” - Andrew Jefford, Decanter Magazine
Bernard Schoffit is a brilliant pioneer in Alsace’s greatest Grand Cru, Rangen de Thann. The domaine, started by Bernard’s father Robert at 10 hectares, is situated near Colmar. 25 years ago, Bernard, then still very young, embarked on an ambitious program of buying land in Rangen, around the Clos St. Theobold. Totalling nearly 6.5 hectares, a good part of it had been abandoned because it was too steep to work. Through sheer determination and ambition, he has now reclaimed all 6.5 hectares. From these incredibly steep slopes, with incredibly low yields, he is making simply extraordinary wine from each plot he grows.
Bernard’s gift for wine-making is not reserved only for his Rangen wines. In his vineyards near Colmar he practices the same rigorous approach to yields, and from a less than one hectare parcel of Riesling on Sommerberg granite, makes one of the most brilliant wines from that variety in all of Alsace. Low yields, very old vines, and Bernard’s guiding hand produce wines that are all marked by the following characteristics: intensity, very pure varietal character, great concentration of fruit and richness on the palate, and perfect acidity to balance and carry this weight into a long and brilliant finish.
Chasselas Vieilles Vignes
From a small, .9ha parcel of Chasselas planted in 1940 on alluvial soils of gravel in Colmar. Entirely hand-harvested, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The old age of the vines gives density and complexity to this dry Chasselas that generally contains, depending on the vintage, less than 3g/L residual sugar and around 5g/L natural acidity.
Riesling Cru Harth ‘Tradition’
Viticulture was reported around the town of Colmar as early as the 9th century and the name Harth is first mentioned in official documents in 1259. This vineyard enjoys maximum sunlight until late in the evening thanks to its location at the exit of a valley, and its very draining soil which heats very quickly induces a regular and homogeneous maturation of the grapes. Riesling grown here is particularly expressive and mineral, with about 6g/L residual sugar and 7g/L natural acidity depending on the vintage, and is always marked by opulent fruit and a very ripe acidity.
Riesling Grand Cru Rangen de Thann ‘Clos St Théobold’ 2016
96 points, Anne Krebiehl MW, Wine Enthusiast - “Both fresh lemon and lemon oil appear on the nose, with an added alluring notion of smoky nettle and fragrant citrus foliage. The palate is concentrated, powerful, searing almost with its freshness and impact. All the volcanic power and depth of the vineyard seems to explode into notions of zesty citrus here. Powerful is the word. The finish is dry and lasting. Drink now through 2040.”
Known all over Europe at least since the 12th century, the Rangen vineyard was first exploited by the monks of the church of Saint-Théobald, an important place of pilgrimage at that time. Rangen is a mountain of volcanic schiste, ideal for Riesling. Its stunning volcanic terroir, unique in Alsace, makes it a magical Grand Cru. But, among all of the Alsatian Grands Crus, it is also the southern most, has the highest elevation (culminating at 450m), is the steepest (up to 55 degrees), and everything contributes to heighten its powerful and mysterious aura. Incredibly hard to work, it is a very demanding terroir that has to be earned all year long. But when it receives the appropriate level of affection, it gives as a reward some of the top Riesling of the world: smoky, stony, mineral. Depending on the vintage, the final balance is usually around 7g/L residual sugar and 7g/L acidity, but its unique personality is always captivating.
Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg 2013
93+ points, Wine Advocate - “Coming from the top of the granite Eckberg (with Jean Boxler's parcels left and right and above), the 2013 Riesling Sommerberg Grand Cru displays a clear, bright, fresh and intense fruit on the nose with lovely lemon flavors. Full-bodied and rich, this is a creamy textured, round and elegant Riesling with an intense fruit of ripe and stewed apples, and a firm tannin structure. There are some bread aromas in the long finish from the long fine lees aging until September. The 2013 is still terribly young and should be aged for another five years, but it will shine for 10 to 15 years at last.”
With a 45 degree incline, the Sommerberg vineyard is one of the steepest vineyards in Alsace, making it so incredibly laborious to farm and harvest, that everything must be done by hand or horse plow. The vineyard faces south and the vines are grown at a very high elevation on granite, very mineral rich soils. One of the world’s most famous sites for Riesling, Schoffit is able to produce an exceptional dry Grand Cru wine that generally contains, depending on the vintage, 6g/L residual sugar and 8g/L acidity, but in every vintage masterful balance and expression of great terroir.