France: Alsace

North of Colmar

The wines of the Haut-Rhin from Niedermorschwihr to Rohrschwihr
By Sue Style

This Guide was last updated on 14 March 2011
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Domaine Marcel Deiss

Address: 15 Route des Vins, 68750 Bergheim
Tel: 03 89 73 63 37  Fax: 03 89 73 32 67
Geo-coordinates:  Latitude: 48:12:18N (48.20487)    Longitude: 7:21:24E (7.35665) 

Jean-Michel Deiss is one of Alsace’s most controversial and uncompromising winemakers (he’s been labelled, semi-humorously, the “Ayatollah of Alsace”) whose wines leave no-one indifferent. He owns 27ha, over 200 different parcels, each one (according to him) completely different and each with its own calling card. This has led him to focus on terroir at the expense of grape variety. At odds with a region famous for its varietal labelling (an approach which he describes as simplistic and sterile), he’s become a fierce and vocal proponent of blends and has succeeded in getting the INAO (official AC body) to permit field planting (‘complantation’) and blends in Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim, where formerly only the four single varietals (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat) were tolerated, as in all Grands Crus. His recent suggestion to drop any mention of grape variety in Grand Cru wines was greeted with a loud collective raspberry from fellow winegrowers, most of whom value the simple clarity of varietal labelling – they called the proposal ‘a catastrophe’. The estate has been run on biodynamic lines since 1998. Wines are categorised as Vins de Fruit (Pinot Blanc plus the four noble varieties, where the accent is on fruit), Vins de Temps et de Patience (Vendanges Tardives, Sélection de Grains Nobles and Quintessences) and Vins de Terroir (wines from two or more field-planted varieties with only the vineyard named, not the grape variety, thus putting the accent firmly on terroir). Go: that way you can decide for yourself what the column inches and the fuss are all about.

Useful information: English spoken.


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