When Alsace Drinks Like Burgundy (Wait…Nah.)

Posted on: February 1st, 2019 by

Actually, why compare the Domaine Ostertag Pinot Noir 2016 Les Jardins to Burgundy? Like in Oregon, it’s time to say Pinot Noir (especially from a storied locale like Alsace in France) don’t need that “Burgundian” comparison so abused it should really be retired because it’s completely irrelevant. (Also there’s plenty of Burgundy thats, well, not very Burgundian. ANYWAY….)

This bottle was part of a small group of Pinot Noir from Alsace sent to me as samples. One was pretty “meh” and I was a little bummed out so I didn’t go back to that well for a bit. MY BAD!

The first thing I noticed when opening this wine is, “Wow, I’m actually opening a red wine.” I almost opened up a Kumeu River Chardonay from New Zealand, regardless of the weather dictating red wine time. 

Domaine Ostertag Pinot Noir 2016 Les Jardins ($34)

Domaine Ostertag Pinot Noir Les Jardins

Photo via Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Initial take after pulling the cork and giving this Pinot a whiff: earthy, forest-y kind of smells. These scents were so prominent I was wondering if drinking it would be like being in a Pacific Northwest rain forest, getting down on all fours, and eating handfuls of damp soil washed down with fern fronds.

BUT NO! There’s loads of bright, yet deep, black cherry flavor.

WINE IS SO CRAZY. HOW CAN IT SMELL LIKE (DELICIOUS) DIRT AND TASTE LIKE FRUIT?!?

Cool fact: Domaine Ostertag is certified biodynamic. The wines are imported by Kermit Lynch, so you know it’s real-deal. A tip I always give is if you don’t know jack shit about an imported wine: flip the label and see who the importer is. If it’s someone like Kermit Lynch, you are gold(en).

There’s an interesting blurb about this Pinot Noir in an offer from said importer’s wine shop. Here’s what Kermit Lynch’s Dixon Brooke had to say:

André’s [Ostertag’s] son Arthur has joined his father and grandfather at their domaine in northern Alsace, three generations now working side by side. Much as his father did with him, André has given Arthur a lot of freedom to experiment in the cellar….One of his other initiatives has been to add more stems to their younger-release Pinot Noir to give it a bit more structure. Mission accomplished.”

So now you know one of the reasons why this Domaine Ostertag Pinot Noir is so memorable. It’s a touch acidic right now; I imagine it would settle down with a year or two in a cool, dark place. Or give it a good hour in your finest decanter or crappiest glass jar.

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