Winemaker of the Month November: Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss

Domaine Kreydenweiss: Alsace’s most exciting!

By Casper van Tartwijk

Chabrol has been the official importer of Kreydenweiss wines since earlier this year. Now it is true that we have long regarded these Alsatian wines as ‘ours’ and act as a true ambassador for this greatness in biodynamically made wines, but now this has also been confirmed by Kreydenweiss himself. An extra special bond, because our former colleague Maarten has been working with great pleasure in the domain for about 4 years.

Nous sommes très heureux de cette collaboration!

The Alsace is located in the extreme northwest of France, between the Vosges and Germany. This also immediately provides an explanation for the bloody history of this area. Many times the Alsace has changed countries after wars, wars in which it regularly happened that one brother fought on the German side and the other on the French side. Either unwanted or forced. History can be seen everywhere; in the family names, the half-timbered houses and the food culture (sauerkraut, sausage). And you can certainly hear it: Alsatian (in various variants) sounds more like German than like French to an outsider.

But it’s all about wine at Chabrol and winemaking is what they do at Kreydenweiss in Andlau: It has been a family business for over 170 years, since after the Second World War under its current name. Under Marc’s leadership, the company moved towards biodynamics in the late 1980s. This is based on a balance between soil, vine and other influences such as the position of the moon. Nowadays there are also quite a few producers in Alsace who work like this, Marc was pretty much the first at the time. Pioneers are often called crazy, and that was no different here. Fortunately, they persevered; otherwise the wines of this house would probably not have tasted as they do now. Classic Alsace wines are often characterized by a nice bit of residual sweetness. Now we at Chabrol think that there is little wrong with sweetness, but the average wine from this domain is not characterized by residual sweetness. And if the wine does, think of the Kritt gewurztraminer, then the sugars are balanced out by the fresh acids present. The wines are without exception exciting and challenging.

Alsace is mainly known for the so-called mono-cépage wines; wines made from a single grape variety only. Think especially of pinot gris, muscat, gewurztraminer, pinot blanc and noir and certainly riesling. Blends were and are mainly used in the crémant and at edelzwicker and its big brother, the gentil. At Kreydenweiss the wines are divided into four categories. Antoine, Marc’s son, has been making wines in Alsace for a few years, including a line called Lune à Boire (first called Pinot Boir). Let’s call that category 1 in the Kreydenweiss range. The red variety is 100% pinot noir, the only permitted blue grape here, the white and orange (unfortunately completely sold out both on the domain and at Chabrol) are blends of various grape varieties. And without exaggeration: they are very exciting. The following applies to all three: unfiltered, no sulfites added. And yet the two white variants can certainly be called clean: both in the scent where you can unmistakably smell the sultry tones of the Gewurztraminer (certainly with the orange variant) and the rich tones of pinot gris (the white one). The contrast with the taste is astonishing: the wines have a fantastic acidity and saltiness. The rest of the wines are usually made from a single grape variety, or at most two. Among other things, you think of the Kritt pinot blanc (come on, with a little Auxerrois in it), the riesling under the name Au dessus de la Loi, the Lerchenberg pinot gris. These are pretty much the wines to get acquainted with in the first place. Digestible wines, which are regularly tasted at our cocktail table. But they certainly also combine wonderfully with food. Anyone who claims that pinot blanc wines are often boring at best should give the Kritt a try! You could call this category the grape-driven.

In addition to these usually younger wines, we also have an extensive range of more serious wines: category 2 & 3. First of all, wines that bear more terroir characteristics such as the Fontaine aux Enfants (pinot blanc and auxerrois), the Clos du Val d’Eleon (riesling and pinot gris), Stierkopf (pinot blanc and riesling) and above all the Grand Crus such as the Moenchberg, Clos Rebberg and the Kastelberg. We have a wide selection of different vintages, perhaps something for the holidays? Come by and let us advise you. We also have a very small stock of Selection de Grains Nobles: sweet wines that put a lot of Sauternes in the shade. This is category 4.

By the way: now that his son has taken over the vineyards in Alsace, father Marc has not disappeared from view: he is working in the vineyards in the deep south of France, next to Nimes. Where he makes beautiful wines with of course more sun in the glass. Here too, indigenous grape varieties such as carignan, cinsault and mourvèrdre. Wines with a great value!

Will you come by soon for a (renewed?) acquaintance?

Finally, one critical note: since the mid-1980s, Kreydenweiss has had a different label each harvest year, designed by different artists. From very abstract, to playful to challenging. And that on all wines from that specific year. That seems to ensure unity in the label country, but if a customer asks us for that Alsace wine with that horse on it or the one with that red flower, then we don’t know anything yet….