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The wines of Domaine Pierre Frick, Alsace

Chantal and Jean-Pierre Frick, 5 Rue de Baer, 68250 Pfaffenheim, France
Website : www.pierrefrick.com E-mail : pierre.frick@wanadoo.fr

Jean-Pierre Frick (pictured right with his wife Chantale: unfortunately he has his eyes closed!) is one of the Alsace pioneers in biodynamie: he converted in 1981 after having already turned to organics in 1970. Altogether he farms 12 hectares of vineyards, in several plots, a third of which is rented. Wines are fermented solely with indigenous yeasts and there is no acidification or chaptalization. Each year, a couple of the cuvées are made without any sulfur dioxide additions.

As with many biodynamic growers, the vineyard receives much of the focus. With the shift to biodynamics in 1981, Frick began working the soil in the winter and leaving the grass to grow in the vine growing season, with a couple of passes from the mower to keep it under control. Since 1999 they’ve further modified their vineyard interventions: no rotary tools are used any longer; just simple tractor-drawn ones to preserve the soil structure.

Various biodynamic preparations are applied according to the cosmic rhythms of the Maria Thun calendar (this is the guide that most biodynamic growers use to help them do things at the right time, from vineyard work to racking to bottling). 10–15 tons/hectare of compost are spread every five years or so to maintain soil fertility. Biodynamic treatments are supplemented with other sprays, where these are essential. Bordeaux mixture is used to combat mildew, but less than 1 kg/copper per hectare each year is applied. Sulfur is used to combat oidium. Bacillus thuriguensis, a bacterium, is used to protect some of the more vulnerable varieties from leaf-roller moths, where the typical biodynamic preparations would otherwise not be effective.

Harvesting is by hand, which is expensive, but is important for ‘the social side experienced during harvest and the search of quality through grape selection’. In the winery whole-bunch pressing is used, the juice is left to settle overnight, and then 98% of the juice is taken off for fermentation. Since 1998 there has been no chaptalization here. Old oak casks, averaging 3000 litres capacity, are used for maturation. The wines have only a small sulfur addition (this is the only addition made here), with a couple of cuvées each year having no added sulfur at all. The results are certainly interesting, and of a high quality, but the slightly oxidative style of the Vorburg didn’t work for me, and the Sylvaner is a bit of an acquired taste. I liked the two Steinert wines.

Riesling Grand Cru Vorburg 2003
Open nutty nose leads to a palate that is broad, nutty and slightly oxidative. It’s an interesting wine that’s quite rich and long. Very good+ 88/100

Riesling Grand Cru Steinert 2003
Nutty, honeyed nose is quite fresh with lemony fruit. The palate is fresh and bright with nice fruitiness. Quite a depth to this with some richness, too. Very good/excellent 90/100

Sylvaner Bergweingarten 2002 Moelleux
Picked in October this has 18 g/l residual sugar. Intriguing appley nose is quite intense leading to a broad, fat palate that is herby with some sweetness, countered by good acidity. Interesting stuff. Very good+ 87/100

Gewürztraminer Vendange Tardive Steinert 2002
Sweet, intense grapey, herby nose. The palate is intense and fat, with lots of sweetness, and nice herby complexity. Viscous but still well balanced. Very good/excellent 91/100 

see also: series on biodynamic wine
Alsace wines

Wines tasted 06/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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