Grand Cru wines shine at Domaine Charles Baur
Arnaud Baur of Alsatian producer Domaine Charles Baur was in New York earlier this month to show off his family’s portfolio. Clean, varietally-correct wines with depth and complexity, the Baur wines reminded me just how much I like Alsace.
The Baur family has been involved in the wine trade since the end of the 18th century, but the current company only dates to 1945 when the two brothers decided to go their separate ways. Arnaud’s grandfather, Charles, was the first to bottle the family’s wine rather than selling off the grapes.
Although Charles has since passed away, Arnaud fondly recalls playing in vineyard with his grandfather as young as four years old. Since then, Arnaud has earned a master’s degree in viticulture and enology and joined the family firm four years ago.
Today, Domaine Charles Baur maintains 17 hectares near Colmar, with several different vineyards including two Grand Crus – Eichberg and Pfersigberg – in Eguisheim and one Grand Cru – Brand – in Turckheim. The soils of the former two are predominantly made up of clay and calcareous stone while there is more sand and granite in the latter.
Since 2009, Domaine Charles Baur has practiced organic viticultural methods, but won’t be officially certified as organic until 2014. However, natural winemaking practices date back even further. The winery has used indigenous yeast for the past 22 years. Careful attention is paid to the grapes with all vineyards handpicked and rigorously sorted.
Like many Alsatian producers, the firm’s diverse portfolio includes two Cremants d’Alsace (Traditional Method sparkling wine) as well as whites, red (Pinot Noir) and late-harvest, dessert wines. The Grand Cru wines encompass Riesling and Pinot Gris from both the Brand and Eichberg vineyards and Gewürztraminer from Pfersigberg and Eichberg.
While all of the wines tasted displayed both fresh fruit character and some complexity, not surprisingly, the Grand Cru wines stood out for their expressive minerality and depth. What was surprising was the relatively low price of these outstanding wines – at $28.00 these were wines that I would happily buy by the case and lay down in my cellar. Sadly, I do not have the room to do so, but I will certainly be seeking them out to enjoy from time to time.