Wanda Cole-Nicholson and Jeremy Eubanks crushed the Criolla Fam last week. Thanks you two!
This week: Schlossberg Grand Cru
What is the primary soil type, most planted variety, where is it located and name 4 producers.
Schlossberg is located on the steep slope ( from 240 to 420 meters) facing Kaysersberg in Kientzheim, Haut-Rhin, Alsace. At around 80 hectares, it is the largest of the Grand Crus in Alsace, as well as being the first to be granted that status in 1975. Since it thas been producing grapes since the fifteenth century, arguably it is also the oldest grand cru plot in Alsace.
Around 75% of this plot is planted with Riesling, with the rest made up of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and some Muscat.
Is primary soil type is granite, with the upper layers in an advanced state of decomposition. As a result, the topsoils contain a high proportion of coarse granitic sand, rich in the minerals of potassium, magnesium and phosphorus – minerals that are found in few other vineyards. This contributes to the long aging ability of wines made from here.
Some producers: Bott Geyl, Domaine Weinbach, Domaine Trepat and J.Fritsch.
The Schlossberg Grand Cru, the largest of the 51 grand cru vineyards is comprised of Granite soils, and is south facing.The Grand Cru is mainly planted to Riesling (76%). It is located in the Haut-Rhin. Producers to note: Weinbach, Trimbach (2ha, purchased in 2012), Albert Mann, Domaine Schofitt.
Also of note, Schlossberg is the second Grand Cru in Alsace for which the Trimbach family has decided to create a Grand Cru cuvée. Although the Clos Ste Hune is located in the heart of the Rosacker Grand Cru, the family was notoriously opposed to the Alsace Grand Cru structure, so always decided against labeling as such. However, in an apparent course-correction, they have now released wines from Grand Cru Gaisberg (inaugural vintage 2009), as well as Grand Cru Schlossberg (inaugural vintage 2014).
One more thing about the soil. Yes, the answer is granite. But THIS VINEYARD IS STEEP by Alsace standards. It's heavily terraced, but that steepness has led to some variability in the topsoil, both in depth (errosion in parts of the very large vineyard) and in composition (sands, gneiss, raw quartz, etc...) All exist here.
The south facing aspect, coupled with the soil, is the reason for reisling's complete dominace in the vineyard (As Blake noted, 76%! Not a lot of room for the other grapes left).
Trimbach's inclusion gives validation to Schlossberg, in my opinion. It's size is so well criticized, but the potential quality of the vineyard is not quite as variable as some of the giant Burgundy vineyards.
There is also an interesting discussion in Land and Wine about the different character of Rieslings (along with differing food pairing recommendations!) depending what part of the slope the vines are on. Worth a read!