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Marcel Deiss: The Art of Complantation

A monument in the heart of the Alsatian Grand Cru region: Domaine Marcel Deiss.

To be precise, we are in Bergheim, a small commune north-east of the town of Ribeauvillé, smack in the middle of the Alsace wine-growing region. The Deiss family comes from a long line of winegrowers and craftsmen whose roots in Bergheim go back to 1744.

Today, the winery is run by Matthieu Deiss with support of his father Jean-Michel. The focus remains as it has always been; on expressing the alsatian vineyards, lieux-dits, terroirs, from Village to Grand Cru.

“Nommer seulement le génie du lieu, cette énergie qui vient du fond comme un cri.”

In order to achieve this - or to understand it in the first place - we first have to look around. Geology, climatology, exposure to sunlight, water reserves - the natural characteristics of the respective vineyards set the tone here. Domaine Deiss is strictly opposed to industrial agriculture, as they themselves work 26 hectares of vines according to the biodynamic principles of Biodyvin and Demeter.

Result of this labor-intensive operating philosophy is high-quality terroir-wine, which remains true to its heritage: The Alsace Gemischter Satz opposes the grape-variety-centered way of thought of the present and dedicates itself completely to expression of the individual vineyard and its complex, natural ecosystem. As a result, the Deiss family chooses to works with all 13 traditional alsatian grape varieties of the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée): Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Gewürztraminer, Traminer, Silvaner, and, it gets even more complicated, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Beurot, Chasselas, Chasselas Rose and Rose d'Alsace. With a few exceptions, these are planted, harvested and vinified together. This practice is referred to as "Complantation" or even as a "grande famille des vignes", i.e. a family of vines.

In an attempt to demystify this extended family, here's a little intro to our selection... ;)

Village, regional, etc. (1er) Crus, labels are in change Grand Crus

The Alsace all-rounder: Complantation: The wine of the hour, an ultra exciting start. All 13 AOC grape varieties of the region play their part in the Alsace Blanc Complantation. Spontaneous fermentation, tropical charm, beautifully ripe even young, playfully salty and fatty with incredible freshness. Keep in mind: Also available without any added sulphur, see "sans soufre ajouté" or "nature" - orange style.

The Village wine: Ribeauville Village. Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc. Characterized by shell limestone, citrus cornucopia, charming, dense cream, in artistic balance.

"1er" (A Premier Cru classification has not yet been established in Alsace, its implementation is a matter of the heart for Domaine Deiss): The still self-proclaimed Premier Crus Grünspiel (Jeu des Verts), Engelgarten, Schoffweg, Grasberg, Langenberg, Rotenberg (Colline Rouge) and Burlenberg. Mainly mixed field plantings, spread over 9 municipalities. Two reds have also crept in with the Pinot Noir-dominated Crus Grünspiel and Burlenberg. Some of the Crus are also vinified in a more natural leaning style, these are then bottled under their french name (eg Jeu des Verts!). Once again, these wines are highly diverse, their assortment of grape varieties and soils being just the beginning. It's probably best to try them all!

Monumental: Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim, Schoenenbourg, Mambourg,

Schlossberg. Complantation on Grand Cru niveau, only Schlossberg is 100% Riesling. Terroir-dominated. Unique. Can easily be left forgotten in the cellar for a generation or two.

New & experimental: As of 2024, there's a new, rebellious experiment, Deiss-typical:

L' Arche is the name of a new addition to the range. Whoever thought the 13 AOC grape varieties planted together on GC Schoenenbourg were Deiss' magnum opus will be amazed. On this "Ark", the 60 (sixty!) historic grape varieties of Alsace are blended together into one wine. A statement, combating a standardized industrial agriculture. Cultural heritage and biodiversity through the roof.

Insider tip: For a (really) sweet finish, there's also the Vendanges Tardives (VT) and Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN) lines. Gewürztraminer and Riesling play the leading roles here. So very individual. ;)

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A very nice blog, I like the way you share very honestly and interestingly, through my blog I learned a lot of things.


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