Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner Vielles Vignes
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Sylvaner is a grape originating from central Europe, taking its name from the region of Transylvania. It can also be found in Germany’s Franconia, and Alsace which is the western limit of its growing area.
Sylvaner is a cornerstone of Alsatian food and wine culture. Our cuisine is based on white wine as one of the main ingredients, Sylvaner in most cases, which is used for marinades (Baeckeofe) or cooking sauces (Choucroute). It has long been the everyday wine: in my family Sylvaner is drunk during lunch and dinner as well as during the snack in the vineyard or after a day of work to quench thirst.
Sylvaner has been planted to up to one-third of the whole production in Alsace, and just 6% today as it is facing a big decline to the advantage of Pinot Noir and Riesling, and even more Auxerrois or Chardonnay that are planted all over the flat fertile areas to produce sparkling wines.
At its peak it was totally neglected from the cultural aspect (very rustic and regular yields), as well as the oenological aspect (quick and technological winemaking) and commercially (sold by the litre in train stations).
But things are starting to change. It’s been seeing a discreet revival for a few years, being accepted on a Grand Cru (Zotzenberg), finding new interest from producers in “historical” Sylvaner sites, and fitting perfectly the trendy low-alcohol, easy-drinking category.
Domaine Ostertag’s Sylvaner vines have an average age of 55 years, and have been farmed with biodynamic methods since 1998, like the whole vineyard. The vines were planted between 30 and 80 years ago. Half the plots are located in top single-vineyard sites, and have a deeply established root system which brings a surprisingly rich mineral structure for this variety which has the reputation of being quite dilute.
This wine comprises 10 small plots in total, located in Epfig and Nothalten, with 5 natures of soils: sandstone, clay, marl, granite and alluvium. The 2017 was picked on 11th and 18th September. It was gently pressed as whole bunches, in a pneumatic press, for nine hours. It fermented naturally in stainless steel and was kept for one year on its lees. It was bottled late August 2018 with a balance of 12.5% alcohol and 3g/L of residual sugar. – André Ostertag
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