Château d’Orschwihr, Alsace Crémant d’Alsace Brut (2006)
Tasting Notes : Aged gold appearance with fine and persistent bubbles is what you meet when you open a bottle of Château d’Orschwihr Crémant Brut. Nice structure with just enough complexity harmonizes in your mouth. Only 6g. of sugar make this a true Brut tending to the dry side. 12.5% alc.
Price: € 8.50
Production Notes : The Château keeps their Crémants “sur lattes” between 3 and 5 years. (That is, aging before degorgement). This Brut is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Riesling. It was kept between 3-4 years before disgorging most of which took place in 2011. 13,400 bottles produced. A winner all around: Guide Hachette 2 Stars; Gold Medal and 87/100 in Gilbert & Gaillard 2012; And, Wine Enthusiast ranked it the best U.S. imported Crémant in 2011.
Pair With : A good Crémant to pair with gastronomic meals and also serve as an aperitif. Serve chilled at between 8 – 10 ºC
This historic Alsatian château was once owned by the Habsburgs. It was Rudolphe Habsburg who acquired the château in the late 1200’s, before he became the Roman Emperor and founded the Habsburg Empire, which lasted into the early 20th c. But the château itself dates back even earlier, to 1049 when, local legend has it, Pope Leon IX of Eguisheim stayed when he consecrated the church in the neighboring village.
The Hartmanns own the Château now, an acquisition the family made in 1854. In1934 a fire completely destroyed the château, and it wasn’t until 1973 that the cellars were restored and only since 1987 that the barn was converted into the château cellars. In 2001 these were extended and an entire Western Wing added.
History of Wine at Château d’Orschwihr
It’s thought that wine has been in production at the Château throughout its existence, even if the wine produced was only for personal consumption. The first record of commercial wine production dates back to the 16th c. when historical public records reference the sale of a barrel of wine to the Murbach Abbey. Hubert Hartmann took over management of the family wine estate in 1986 and increased the vineyards under cultivation from 6 ha. to 25. It’s these 25 ha., and the wines produced therefrom, that Gautier Hartmann now oversees.
The Château’s AOPs
AOP Crémant d’Alsace has been recognized since 1976. They’ve been making this bubbly wine in the region, according to “traditional methods,” since the end of the 19thc. The effervescent wine of the region is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinots and Rieslings. They are white or rosé.
AOP Bellenberg is said to be an ancient place of sun worship. The hill of Bollenberg covers 300 ha. and is one of the biggest limestone hills; it’s also a protected area. It enjoys a micro-climate in that it gets the lowest levels of rainfall in Europe and gets more than its share of sunshine.
AOP Echenberg’s entire 4 ha. are now owned solely by Château d’Orschwihr. The hillside is fully southfacing and has grown grapes since the 16th c., though it was abandoned briefly after WWII because of its steepness and altitude. The Hartmanns terraced the vineyard plots which they now use for growing Riesling and Pinot Gris exclusively. They say that this harsh terrain is what gives the grapes their mineral richness and elegance “worthy of the great vins de garde.”
Alsace Grand Cru Protected Designation of Origin (AOP) Label
It is mandatory for the label to indicate, in addition to the grape (only Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat are permitted), the year, one of the fifty Grand Cru, and one of the specified lieux-dits (vineyards) awarded this appellation. As much as the grape it is the characteristics of the terroir that makes each Alsace Grand Cru wine unique. [Château d’Orschwihr currently has 5 Grand Crus.]
Philosophy of Friendly [to The Environment]
The Family Hartmann believes that sustainable and “reasoned” agricultural farming methods produce the raw materials that grow the best grapes for the finest wines. As such they have in place numerous practices: Non-use of toxic products, as much for the farmers as for the grapes and vines; low – moderate use of fertilizers; low use of “improvers”; no chaptalization for their wines; labels made of recycled paper; and their own electricity production (a surplus of their own consumption in fact) since 2011.