ALSACE - FRANCE
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 Sommerberg
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.
Riesling Grand Cru Rangen
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.
2016 Riesling Grand Cru Rangen
95 points, James Suckling -“Very cool and delicate on the nose with just a whiff of smoke, welcoming you to a very radical dry wine with stunning minerality and really racy acidity. The finish is like a lightning strike with a very long afterburn. Impressive now, but this ought to develop beautifully over the next decade or two.”