To call André Ostertag a revolutionary winemaker is an understatement. He is legendary, a true pioneer and ardent environmentalist (as demonstrated in both his wine and his sculpture, another passion). After training in Burgundy, André returned to the family domaine in Alsace with renewed zeal: he lowered yields considerably and introduced viticultural and vinification techniques from other regions to his own home ground. Starting in 1997 his vineyards were converted to biodynamics.
There is poetry to Ostertag’s practices. He looks for the nuance of terroir rather than the typicity of a grape varietal. In an act of rejection against the official classifications dictated by the Alsation A.O.C., he made up his own categories: Vins de Fruit that express fruit character rather than that of a specific vineyard site, Vins de Pierre reflecting the terroir from which they originate, and Vin de Temps that rely on time and weather to encourage the development of botrytis. He ferments the majority of his wines completely dry, so their versatility at the table surpasses that of many other wines from the region. In Ostertag’s experience, a careful use of oak subtly enhances the traditional Alsatian varietals from the Pinot family, giving them greater depth on the palate. He uses oak sourced exclusively from the Vosges Mountains and, for his Pinots, prefers barriques to the traditional foudres.
Clos Mathis is from a unique parcel in Ribeauville which all granite soils. It is both rich and electric, a benchmark bottle for what is possible for Alsatian Riesling.