Sweet Alsace over £10
Domaine Ernest Burn, La Chapelle Clos Saint-Imer 2005 Riesling Grand Cru Goldert
Who invented the legend of Saint Imer? This might be a controversial question for researchers looking for references beyond the bounds of Domaine Ernest Burn, but there is nothing controversial about the legendary quality of Riesling grown in Clos Saint-Imer. It seems odd at first that this part of Goldert could be so legendary for Riesling, when this grand cru has a marly-limestone and sandstone soil that has made it famous for Gewurztraminer. Muscat does very well too, providing that it is not harvested too ripe and, to a lesser extent, so does Pinot Gris, but Riesling? Forget it and indeed most have. There is very little Riesling on Goldert, and the little that does exist rarely excels. However, Clos Saint-Imer is a pocket of oolithic limestone, on which Riesling can be quite exceptional.
Although Domaine Ernest Burn was founded in 1934, the Burn family have been cultivating these Goldert for more than 300 years and the current generation (Francis in the vineyards and Joseph the winemaker) are the masters of getting the very best that its east-facing slopes can provide. This grand cru itself extends to just over 45 hectares and ranges in height from 230 to 330 metres, at the top of which is Clos Saint-Imer, a five-hectare vineyard located next to the chapel of Saint-Imer.
According to Sebastien Burn “The domaine is not certified organic or biodynamic, but Francis has always followed a philosophy that respects nature, working the soil by hand and never using pesticides, while the vinification process employed his brother Joseph is very traditional. The 2005 Riesling La Chapelle Clos Saint-Imer was picked at the end of October, selecting only the very best grapes from our 40 years old vines. The wine was fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel, where it remained on its lees for 12 months, then racked into large old-oak foudre for a further six months ageing prior to bottling.”
There was a much sweeter Riesling in contention for Alsace Sweet Wine Trophy, but the panel could not resist the finesse of this wine, even though with 13% alcohol and just 20g/l residual sugar, we knew that we would probably be sacrificing any chance of the international trophy against much bigger and sweeter wines.
Availability UK (N/A but available from cellar and producer’s website for €17), US (Artisan Wine Depot, San Jose: $33.99)
Telephone 33 (0) 389 49.20.68