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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Domaine Rieflé-Landmann is the new name of the former Domaine Rieflé, which is located in a beautiful old winemaker's house that was built in Pfaffenheim[...]lire la suite.
Domaine Rieflé-Landmann is the new name of the former Domaine Rieflé, which is located in a beautiful old winemaker's house that was built in Pfaffenheim, Southern Alsace, in 1609. That's because the Rieflé family took over the vineyards from the vigneron and bon vivant Seppi Landmann, a living legend who started his late winemaking career in 1982 without owning a winery. Landmann had rented a cellar in Soultzmatt where he produced some remarkably good, if not mythic wines beyond all traditions (Cuvée Sophie Marceau, Cuvée Erotique, Hors La Loi, Vallée Noble, Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé...). His personal brand still exists (otherwise he would not have sold his vineyards) so that's why the renamed Domaine Rieflé-Landmann markets its wines under two different signatures: the well established Domaine Rieflé and the Seppi Landmann brand.

The family, today represented by the young brothers Thomas (who cares for the vineyards) and Paul Rieflé (who does all the marketing things and showed me the vineyards and the wines), farms 79 different blocks adding up to 23 hectares (57 acres). The vines are located close to the winery in Pfaffenheim and Rouffach and, since Landmann sold his vines, also in Westhalten and Soultzmatt. They are classified for six different appellations: Crémant d'Alsace, Alsace, Alsace Côte de Rouffach, Alsace Vallée Noble, Alsace Grand Cru Steinert and Alsace Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé. Paul hopes that the lieu-dits of Pfaffenheim -- Bergweingarten (a small single vineyard within the Côte de Rouffach and adjacent to the Grand Cru Steinert which is, and always was, planted 90% with Gewurztraminer) and Bihl (east of the village) -- will receive Premier Cru status one day.

The Rieflé brothers share a humanist and socially responsible approach to winemaking. Faced with the realities of a global market, they took inspiration from the famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Since years, the domaine farmed their vineyards organically and with the recently released 2014 vintage, Rieflé-Landmann is an AB-certified organic wine producer. Unusual enough yet visionary, perhaps the manual work is outsourced to a local association for professional reintegration, what Paul Rieflé calls "a part of our humanist approach and support for the local community." It also "engenders a strong identity which cannot be delocalized, and which is a guarantee of sustainability in a rapidly changing world," Paul believes.

The domaine produces a wide but well structured range of wines -- variety wines for every day, villages wines for more ambitious wine lovers and the grands crus and late harvested wines for hedonists -- that reflect the originality of the Alsatian wine culture and the specific terroirs. The most prominent single vineyard of the former Domaine Rieflé is the Grand Cru Steinert which overlooks the village of Pfaffenheim, in which the family holds 65 ares. It is based on an oolitic limestone massif, which is scarcely covered by topsoil in several places. Whereas Riesling is planted on the uppermost part of the cru, Pinot Gris likes it halfway down on the flattest parts. To stress the influence of the terroir, Rieflé produced a blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris under the Grand Cru Steinert appellation in 2014; whereas in 2013 the Seppi Landmann Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé was already an assemblage of four varieties. Will this be the future at Rieflé-Landmann: selling terroir instead of varieties? This would be courageous and pioneering.

Although by far I did not taste all the wines produced at Rieflé-Landmann -- curious to taste the Bergweingarten once -- the wine quality is very good if not excellent, whereas the prices are still extremely fair. This is a very promising domaine to discover and some of the wines should (or will) be available in the US.


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