2017 Domaine Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling
For a quarter of a century, André Ostertag, the owner and winemaker of Domaine Ostertag in the Vosges Mountains of Alsace, has been practicing biodynamic viticulture in all of his vineyards. For a quarter of a century, all of his wines have been reaping the benefits. And none more so than the 2015 Domaine Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling.
André is a winemaking pioneer and iconoclast. He rejects wines made by formulas and manipulated by chemicals. He seeks nuances of terroir rather than typicity of grape varieties. In an act of defiance against official wine classifications dictated by the French government, he made up his own categories: Vins de Fruit that express fruit character rather than that of a specific vineyard site; Vins de Pierre, reflecting the terroir from which they originate; and Vin de Temps that rely on time and weather to encourage the development of botrytis. André ferments the majority of his wines completely dry, so their versatility at the table surpasses that of many other wines from the region.
The 2015 Domaine Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling displays all of the fruits of André’s abiding beliefs and his years of labor. André owns less than a hectare of vineyard in the Heissenberg, which translates to “Hot Mountain.” With its distinctive soils of pink sandstone, gneiss, and granite, the vineyard’s south-facing slope is planted exclusively to Riesling. As the Wine Enthusiast review of the 2015 vintage heralds, André’s Hessenberg gives us a fleshy, mineral wine, with generous fruit and exotic aromas.
André rhapsodizes about the kind of quality that makes a wine great. “True quality is that which succeeds in surprising and moving us,” he says. “It is not locked inside a formula. Such a wine will necessarily be uncommon and decidedly unique because it cannot be like any other.” The poetry of André’s words reveals to us the deeper truth about his 2015 Domaine Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling. This isn’t just a great wine. It’s a master’s work of art.
“A heady swirl of Amalfi lemon hits you right in the heart, if not the nose. They are utterly tart and fresh but with that golden ripeness at their very core that makes this rather seductive. Taste buds just want to get to the bottom of this and rejoice in the purity and fruity tang. This is translucent and refreshing but also rich and full of delicious lemony vigor. The finish is lip-smacking. It will be hard to resist this, but this is certain to get even better. Drink now through 2035. 95 points.” — Wine Enthusiast