From: Alsace, France
Varietal: Muscat d'Alsace
Taste: With its aromatic, precise, and juicy profile, one can trace kumquat, fresh cream, orange rind, and the delicate caress of white flowers. You'll also find notes of wild grapes and peppery spices like curry and ginger, all intertwined with inviting notes of red and black fruits. Upon tasting, one is met with a powerful presence, energized by lively acidity and structured by firm, well-present tannins. Wild bush and red berry flavors make their mark as it develops on the palate. Each sip is tonic, crunchy, and well-balanced, with a residual sugar of just 0.6 g/l, harmonizing with the acidity. The finish, long and spirited, hints at a slight stoniness. Vinified to be dry, the wine is produced sans acidification or malolactic. The texture is crystalline and refreshing, celebrating the essence of crunchy fruit in each sip.
Pairing: This Muscat's vibrant profile marries flawlessly with the crisp taste of a fennel, lemon, and olive oil salad, allowing the tangy nuances to enhance the wine's crunchy fruit character. Dive into a plate of white asparagus drenched in a rich hollandaise sauce, charged with fine strips of lemon peel. The creaminess of the sauce, boasting about 80% fat, unveils the nuances in the asparagus and enables the Muscat to shine genuinely. Indeed, while many tout the complement between Muscat and asparagus, combining asparagus with the hollandaise (check out the recipe below) genuinely elevates the wine. For those looking to explore other pairings, consider light Thai delicacies fragrant with lemongrass, or indulge in fromages blancs adorned with fresh herbs.
By Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey
About. Domaine Dirler-Cadé is one of the finest domaines of Alsace, located halfway between the cities of Colmar and Mulhouse in the small village of Bergholtz. Run by Jean and Ludvine Cadé, Dirler-Cadé represents the joining of two Alsace winegrowing families under one house. The domaine's vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic, and the wines are just as fitting in Michelin three-star restaurants as they are at natural wine fairs.
In 1871, Jean Dirler settled in the tiny village of Bergholtz and founded Vins Dirler. Bergholtz and its 1,000 inhabitants are tucked up in the lower hills of the Vosges Mountains, 25 kilometers south of the city of Colmar in the Upper Rhine department of southern Alsace. Today, the Domaine is run by Jean Dirler, who represents the fifth generation.
The family began the conversion to biodynamic viticulture in 1998. Jean and his father began by converting six hectares of the lower slopes of vineyards. They continued in 1999 by converting the remaining three hectares of the steepest and narrowest trellises that require the use of horse and plow even today.
In 2000, the Domaine increased in size as Dirler was joined by Ludivine’s familial vineyards, Domaine Hell-Cadé, in nearby Guebwiller. The merger, now known as Dirler-Cade, brought the total vineyards planted to 18 hectares, and these new vineyards were added in stages so that they, too, could undergo the conversion to biodynamics.
The entire production was certified AB (Agriculture Biologique) and BIODYVIN (Bio-Dynamic) as of the 2007 vintage. The soil is plowed four to five times a year in the vineyards, and old canes are not pruned off until March. Dirler-Cadé removes flowers instead of green harvesting. Only sulfur and homeopathic doses of ‘horsetail’ are used against disease and pests, and fertilizers are never used. For some years now, nesting boxes for chickadees have been set up in the plots to allow these birds to settle in and consume the possible grape worms. Hedges of different varieties of shrubs are also planted amongst the vines to maintain biodiversity.
Dirler-Cadé's 44 hectares of vineyards are planted to every permitted varietal in Alsace, except Chardonnay. Close to half of the vines (42%) are in the Grands Crus of Saering, Spiegel, Kessler, and Kitterlé. In addition, the Domaine also has plantings in the five lieux-dits known as Belzbrunnen, Schwarzberg, Bux, Schimberg, and Bollenberg. The common point of these terroirs is the erosion of Buntsandstein sandstone, the presence of which in its pure state in certain parcels is almost unique in the world.
Jean and Ludivine have a very hands-off approach in the cellar, allowing the soil and the vintage to dictate style. In years when fermentation naturally stops, leaving residual sugar, the Dirler-Cadés do not intervene. The wines are genuinely dry, but small shifts in residual sugar (sometimes up or down) reflect their homegrown philosophy.
This estate-grown 2019 Muscat was born from a sorting mainly from the Grand Cru Saering, combined with a small volume from Grand Cru Spiegel. The Saering ("sea ring") Cru recalls the presence of the sea and the calcareous sediments or calcareous conglomerates deposited in the Oligocene period. The wines from this place are juicy, salivating, broad, dense, with volume and great power. Meanwhile, the Spiegel ("mirror") Cru reflects the light on the quartz pebbles of the Stein plot. This marl and sandstone place naturally recalls the association of the element Air, invisible par excellence, always in movement and light. The wines born from the Spiegel, reveal themselves to be airy, fine, elegant, frivolous, flattering, less rooted in the earth. Great noble bitters carry the length of these wines. This Muscat includes both allowable strains of the grape allowed in Muscat d'Alsace: Muscat Muscat à Petits Grains (also popular in Mediterranean climates) and Muscat Ottonel (more resistant to cold).
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