“Over the course of just two nights at the end of April 2017 on which frost hit hard, the estate lost about 45% of its crop. Marie-Thèrese Barthelmy told me that she remembers budbreak taking place on March 25, and that on March 31 their cherry tree was already in bloom; then, on April 21, the roof fell and frost wiped out entire vineyards. Harvest began earlier than usual and was also finished fast, over just three weeks. What wines the estate did manage to produce are, as always, superb”
“There’s very sad news for the fans of this charismatic domaine in Zellenberg: Marc and Anne Marie Tempé are fine, no worries, but they harvested their last grapes in 2022. “It was a very painful decision for Marc,” says Anne Marie. The couple told me last year they wanted to lease their vineyards but keep the domaine, which they moved next door to a few years ago after they restored the complete building. This year, they rented out their vineyards to several younger winemakers, including passionate Scotsman Paul McKirdy (formerly of Zind-Humbrecht) and enologist Jolène Hunter from South Africa (formerly of Zind-Humbrecht as well), who bought a house in Zellenberg and now have the opportunity to become vignerons this year. Jérôme François from La Grange de l’Oncle Charles has rented the vineyards close to his own in the plain, and Florian Spannagel has rented those in Sigolsheim and Kientzheim. All of them will continue to work with biodynamic methods. Paul and Florian, says Anne Marie, “will be inspired by Marc’s work for the long vinifications in wood. … The fact of having allowed young people to settle down has consoled Marc a little from not being able to work his vines anymore,” she reports.
Marc bottled the 2020 vintage last August, just before the harvest and will start selling them in May this year, and I will hopefully manage to taste them early enough in either April or May since I kept back the gorgeous 2019s for too long because my Alsace trips and report was interrupted twice by COVID-19 last year, and the scheduled second trip into the region for a more comprehensive report never happened due to a sudden lack of time. If you lose seven weeks in the first third of the year, you can’t catch up the lost time even though you try hard to do so. However, many of the 2019s should be still available, namely in the export markets, so you should have the chance to purchase Tempé’s fourth to last vintage. It would be worth the effort. The most spectacular wines of the tasting include the 2019 Riesling Grands Crus Mambourg and Schoenenbourg, the 2019 Gewurztraminer Mambourg and two 2000s, one Riesling and one Gewurz that were both aged in barrels for 19 years. I also have been a huge fan of Tempé’s Pinot Noir M from the Mambourg and was sad to learn that the 2018 was already his legacy: Unfortunately, it was not possible for him to extend the expiring lease. The plot is now rented and farmed by the Domaine des 2 Lunes, whose wines I have also reviewed in this report.”
“Bright straw. Clean, vibrantly mineral and racy aromas and flavors of green apple, pear and lime. Ripe yet brightly acidic, this exhibits a penetrating quality on the long, juicy, ginger- and mineral-accented finish. Very compact, dense and still youthful Riesling. Outstanding. Drinking window: 2026-2039. 95+ points
The venerable Trimbach firm, located in Ribeauvillé, owns 60 hectares and is now among the five biggest private vineyard land owners in Alsace. Long staunch opponents of the Grand Cru system (which, when it was first unveiled, they felt, not unreasonably, to be flawed), the family is now bottling numerous wines from different grand crus, such as the Mandelberg and the Geisberg, and will likely release their first-ever Riesling Brand in 2018 (they bought vineyards there in 2016). They have also bought 0.1 hectares of roughly 50-year-old Sylvaner vines in the Trottacker lieu-dit and are very happy with the fruit it supplies. Incidentally, the new releases of the estate’s two most famous wines, the Riesling Cuvée Fréderic Emile and the Clos Saint Hune, are absolutely superb.”