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Tuesday
May272014

Domain Weinbach Faller, a legacy

 

At the base of the Schlossberg hill, lies the Clos des Capucins, a monastery built in 1612, and later named Weinbach (wine brook) after the stream that meanders through the five hectare parcel. In 1898, it was purchased by the Faller brothers, who left it to Theo Faller, late husband to the lovely Collette, and father to daughters Catherine and Laurence. After his passing in 1979 the three ladies took over the estate and continued the high standards that had been set by the previous generations.

Domaine Weinbach Faller would be our first appointment in Alsace. Ten in the morning, we passed it about four times before determining that it was the large chateau with hidden lettering silently announcing itself behind the clos. Eric and I met with the lovely Catherine Faller, tasted through eighteen wines, including the 2013s, the Sylvaner having been bottled only two weeks prior, and the Pinot Blanc and Muscat still in tank.

The Domain currently owns 75 acres (30 hectares), planted with Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Muscat, located in the heart of the Kayserberg Valley, including four Grand Cru sites which range in soil type from sand silt, to calcareous, to granite, and limestone. In 1998 they began using biodynamics on eight of their twenty five hectares, and practicing organic on the remaining seventeen. As of 2005, all of their properties are practicing biodynamic. The wines of Domain Weinbach are from 100% hand picked, estate grown fruit, and bottled at the estate. After having gone through gentle, whole cluster press, the wines are aged in giant barrels (1500-6000 liters) that are between 50 and 100 years old, and fermented using only native yeast. The wines exude elegance, finesse, balance, and complexity. 

Currently K&L has four wines available from Domain Weinbach. The Riesling "Cuvee Theo" comes from older vines within the Clos des Capucins, an elegant and concentrated, dry Riesling with intense acidity. The Clos des Capucins, in which the domain is located, is a historic vineyard, having been planted with vines since before the year 890.  "Cuvee St. Catherine" Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, comes from the 60 year old vines from the bottom section of the Schlossberg Grand Cru. This is the richest of the Rieslings from Weinbach, and perhaps has the best aging potential. "Cuvee Laurence" Gewurztraminer, comes from the bottom of the Altenberg, in limestone and clay soils. Rich and concentrated, with the flavor of flan with hints of coffee. Delicious paired with blue cheese. The Gewurztraminer from Altenbourg, is a powerhouse. The intensity, full body, and botrytis sweetness makes this an ideal pairing for Indian foods, rich Chinese duck dishes, and pungent cheeses.

The house chef had prepared a simple authentic Alsatian lunch for us, beginning with homemade baguette with fresh, locally made butter, steamed white asparagus with incredible Dijon heavy homemade mayonnaise, plates of thin sliced dried and cured ham that tasted like the most delicious moist prosciutto. As Eric is allergic to chicken, it was up to me to enjoy the Riesling Coq au Vin over fresh egg pasta (recipe below). I was trying so hard not to show how amazing it was to Eric, but it was truly one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever tasted. And so obvious! Substituting a great bottle of Riesling for a bottle of Burgundy seems like a no brainer, but my god, was it exquisite.

 Colette

Over the next hour we feasted, and sipped through the 2012 offerings, segued into the cheese course from local fromagerie (Catherine remarked that one of the cheeses was ten days too young, I thought it was the best cheese I’d ever tasted), and then a dessert that was stunning in its simplicity. A small scoop of lemon sorbet, with golden raisins that had been plumped in their home made Gewurztraminer marc eau de vie. I really didn’t want to leave. And now I desperately want to go back.

Sadly, we learned that winemaker Laurence had passed away far too early at the age of 47, of an apparent heart attack only days after we returned to the US. Known as one of the most talented winemakers in the region, it is truly a sad day for the industry. Our thoughts go out to their amazing family.

Coq au Riesling

 Coq Au Riesling

  • 2T grapeseed oil

  • 2 white or yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 4 strips of bacon, sliced into ¼ inch strips

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (bone in)

  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 1 bottle of off dry Riesling

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • handful of chopped parsley

  • juice of half a lemon

  • ½ c heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Warm the oil in a large shallow pan, or a deep dutch oven.

  2. Brown the chicken pieces all over and remove from the pan.

  3. Add the onions and bacon and allow to fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon has rendered it's fat.

  4. Add the garlic and allow to saute for another 30 seconds before removing the mixture from the pan (leaving the fat behind).

  5. Add the mushrooms and allow to fry for 5 minutes, or until nicely colored.

  6. Add the onion and bacon mixture along with the browned chicken back to the pan.

  7. Pour in the wine and allow to come up to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover. Allow to simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

  8. After 15 minutes, uncover, turn up the heat and add the cream. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, remove the chicken pieces and allow to reduce for 10 minutes, or until substantially flavored. Finish with the juice of half of a lemon, and season to taste.

  9. Serve over egg pasta, garnished with chopped parsley, and with a chunk of crusty bread.

 

 Melissa Lavrinc Smith is K&L's Head Sommelier in charge of the Personal Sommelier Wine Club and hosts private and corporate wine and spirit events

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