In Mittelbergheim, Alsace – just a dozen miles from the German border – Lucas Rieffel is farming and making wines of the future, and setting a new benchmark for Crémant d'Alsace. These are not your typical charming-but-old-school Alsatian wines; rather they are emotive natural wines that show an entirely new face of the region.
"I don’t want to do more than we do now. This works for us; we’re not some beast of a company. Instead of being a commercial director, I’d rather be a farmer."
People: Lucas Rieffel
Place: Alsace, France
Varieties: Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois
Farming: Organic with elements of biodynamics
Wines: Click here
Did You Know? Sulfites intrigue Lucas endlessly. He is currently experimenting with different sulfite regimens for his Pinot Noir; he has bottled three wines from the same vineyard, with the same vinification, but with different sulfite protocols. One was given 20mg/L (which is already very low), one was given none, and one was given a homeopathic dose—meaning the wine was given such a diluted sulfite addition that it is almost undetectable. This might not make sense to scientists or to winemakers, but the wine speaks for itself...
“Bubbles have been a huge project for me. I just couldn’t get them to work, but I didn’t want to sell the grapes. So, I changed things. I let the wines go through malolactic, harvested slightly riper, and aged the wines for longer on the lees. Apart from time, there was no huge investment.”
He also decided to keep the wines as brut nature; avoiding sugar. With his healthy grapes reaching ideal ripeness levels, they didn’t need it. He also lowered sulfite levels; the wines only see a small amount at bottling.