First a winemaker must know himself and find his personal style. Just as with a fashion designer, each year’s collection must be different, but true to the designer’s style
– Managing Director, Christophe Ehrhart
Founded in 1854 by Aloyse Meyer, the house of Josmeyer is now run by Céline MEYER, representing the fifth generation, assisted by Christophe Ehrhart in charge of viticulture and by her sister Isabelle MEYER in charge of the cellar. Situated amid the communes of Wintzenhiem, Turkheim and Wettolsheim, the Josmeyer domaine covers an area of 25 ha, of which 5 are the slopes of the AOC Grand Cru
Brand and Hengst vineyards.
Having worked their vineyards on organic principles for many years, since 2000 the Domaine has moved towards a full conversion to biodynamic culture in accordance with their conviction that “the pursuit of excellence in harmony with the earth” will express both terroir and varietal character more dramatically. Soft, sensual wines are produced from the flat alluvial deposits in the valley, whilst the combined calcareous and marl soils of the 360 metre high Hengst vineyard yield rich, full bodied wines and those from the deep granite soil of Brand are incisive and fine structured. Artificial chemicals and fertilisers are prohibited and the soil is maintained by mechanical cultivation and green cover. The average age of the vines is 25 years and with hard pruning and the use of only natural fertilizers, yields at Josmeyer are far lower than the average for Alsace.
Not merely a support, a well-balanced and living soil is essential for plants to flourish in harmony with nature’s rhythms. We work the soil to optimise the inter-relationship of air and water. One row of vines in two is left to develop naturally to produce a greater diversity of flora and fauna. Furthermore the competition from other plants that develop as a result of this practice encourages the vines to send roots deeper into the soil for nourishment.
We prepare our own biodynamic compost which we use in the Autumn in small quantities (1 to 3 tonnes/hectare) and this encourages a rich and varied range of micro-organisms. Vines thus cultivated are able to express the character of the terroir naturally.
To achieve maximum diversity and complexity of fruit we only plant vines grafted from our very best old vines. We pay particular attention to the way the grafts adapt to the particular soil and climate where they are planted. Our minimum planting density is 5200 to the hectare which we view as the minimum for the full expression of the mineral complexity of our terroir. Equally we give our young vines all the time they need to root properly to ensure both quality and longevity.
Instead of the systematic use of chemicals, which behave very much in the same way as antibiotics in humans with all the problems that brings, we use plants and preparations to help the vines find their natural balance. We use concoctions of nettles, willow and horsetail as a kind of herbal « tea » in order to reduce the need for copper and sulphur. These preventive measures, given in rhythm with the phases of the moon, help to reinforce the vines’ natural immunity. Topping is only carried out once the new growth is developed in order to avoid the growth of secondary buds and thus to develop a natural, open and airy canopy.
Our work as wine - grower is to ensure that every one of our 150,000 vines our encouraged to bring to each of their grapes, their children, all the unique characteristics of our terroirs. It is only once all these elements have come to full maturity that we start our picking which is entirely carried out by hand.
Thus begins the delicate work of raising these elements, through fermentation and all the many processes needed to the eventual birth of our unique and inimitable wines. With no additions of yeast, sugar or enzymes, our vinification has the sole aim of bringing the grape to the bottle in a wine to enjoy throughout its life.