Pierre Frick Riesling Grand Cru Steinert 2012
Winegrower: Pierre Frick
Sulphites: 18 milligrams per liter (total allowed under EU regulations: 210 mgs per liter)
Acidity: 7.5 grams per liter
Residual Sugar: 0.1 gram per liter
Shipping: September 2018
Biodynamic wines have the flavour of devotion, and whether you believe in spiritual agriculture or think it’s just voodoo, it’s the winemaker’s passion that matters. Twenty years before J.I. Rodale coined the term "organic" in the 1940s, an Austrian named Rudolf Steiner had already introduced the original holistic approach to sustainable agriculture: biodynamics. Caricatured as new-age crazies burying dung-stuffed bull's horns under the new moon, winegrowers who practice biodynamics view farms as self-sustaining organisms that interact with their surrounding ecosystems – including the spiritual and cosmic realms – and they go through incredible efforts to sustain the harmony and health of these ecosystems. Pierre Frick is such a winegrower.
Pierre has been at the forefront of the biodynamic movement for close to 50 years and makes wines that are scrupulously natural. These are some of the most terroir-driven wines in France and are legendary for their incredible flavors, purity of fruit, minerality and terroir. In 1970 he converted to organic farming, and in 1980 he became the first in Alsace to go biodynamic. His wines are as natural as they get, other than a tiny amount of sulphur at bottling (and sometimes not even that); nothing is added, including sugar, which is unusual in Alsace due to its northern latitude. The alcohol levels he achieves are all natural, which means he has to let his grapes hang on the vines far longer to develop the sugar levels, and with the sugar comes all sorts of incredible flavours. Pierre’s wines are perfectly balanced; they have great acidity, a pronounced minerality, and they’re complex. Today’s offer, his Riesling Grand Cru Steinert 2012 (Wine Enthusiast gave the vintage 92 pts), is one of his top cuvées and a perfect example. This is classic, dry Alsatian Riesling, pure, beautiful, balanced and elegant! The aromas alone are enough to make you want to enjoy a bottle all by yourself.
Alsace is heaven for terroir lovers. The best vineyards for each grape variety have been studied for centuries, and like Burgundy, the local abbeys and nobles who ruled over each village were keenly aware of the vineyards from which the best wines came, and they selected wines - and levied taxes - accordingly.
From promoting biodiversity in the vineyard to hand harvesting the grapes, to using little or no sulphur during winemaking to ageing in large old oak casks, Pierre aspires to capture the essence of the grape and the flavour of the terroir. His wines are legendary for their incredible flavours, purity of fruit, minerality and terroir. These are living, artisanal wines of the highest order..
Pierre Frick’s family has owned their estate for 300 years. His focus is on the vineyards. These are made of a dozen different soil types that are primarily calcareous, and his holdings in Steinert, Vorbourg and Eichenberg Grand Cru each have their own unique micro-climates. All work is by hand, only biodynamic preparations are used and every five years organic fertilizer is applied. Pierre mostly uses the same local grape pickers from harvest to harvest. He believes they’ll pick the best grapes from which he can produce the finest wines. He also believes this adds an important cultural element to his wines. In the winery he shows a deft touch: whole bunches of grapes are pressed, the juice is left to settle overnight then 98% is used for fermentation with indigenous yeasts. To best develop their Alsatian character the wines lie on their fine lees, without stirring, for up to two years in large, oak casks, some of which are over 100 years old. No chaptalization, acidity adjustments or cold stabilization are ever carried out, only a little sulphur is added before bottling, and each year Pierre produces a couple of cuvées with no added sulphur.
Today’s wine comes from Pierre’s Grand Cru Steinert vineyard and is a perfect example of the beauty and elegance his wines achieve. Steinert is an east-facing, steep vineyard with relatively dry limestone-based soil. The wine matured on its fine lees in century old oak barrels for 22 months then was bottled with only a tiny amount of sulphite added. Like all of his wines, this has a metal cap closure to guarantee no cork taint. Pierre argues that all Champagne is kept under cap, some for a decade or more, prior to disgorgement, so why shouldn’t he. This wine is yellow with gold reflections and has pronounced aromas of white flower, peach, aromatic herbs, tea and chalky minerality. These follow through on the palate, which is fleshy and supple with perfectly balanced acidity and a noticeably long, saline, mineral finish. Serve at 10˚ to 12˚ in white stems with smoked fish, crustaceans of all sorts, fish in a cream sauce or a classic Sole Meunier. This is a classic, superb Riesling and a great value!