There is no artifice in the wines of Alsace estate Bott-Geyl, and it has been recognised for this by reviewers and consumers alike. These pure and authentic wines have always been made with utmost discretion, the domain not seeking much publicity for itself. But we think this name is more than worthy of its moment in the spotlight.
Jean-Christophe Bott has been running Domaine Bott-Geyl since 1991. He inherited the family property off his grandfather, Jean-Martin Geyl, though this is a domain that dates all the way back to 1795. He officially converted to organic agriculture at the turn of the millennium, introducing biodynamic methods just a few years later, in 2002. The yields are intentionally limited, and the grapes are vinified in a natural and minimalist fashion. This is a way of bringing together tradition and modernity, with both the domain’s legacy and environmental concerns in mind.
The domain’s vineyards span 14 hectares, 5 of which are grands crus and 3 are lieux-dits. Its 75 parcels cover 7 communes, from Ribeauvillé to Kientzheim, meaning the vines are at the heart of the “Perles du Vignoble” area. Bott-Geyl’s guiding principle can be summed up in one, simple phrase: “It’s all in the vine”. Only a high-quality grape can produce a high-quality wine. At Bott-Geyl, it’s seen as wishful thinking to hope that a wine can be greatly improved during vinification or ageing; on can only aim to maintain the quality of the grape through the process. The essential element of work in the vineyard is understanding the soils in which the vines are planted in order to care for the correctly. This includes turning the soil over, ploughing, and the use of organic compost. The idea is to encourage the vines to push their roots deep into the soil for their nutrients, thus developing a juice that expresses the terroir. The result of these efforts is a range of wines that have continued to improve in their harmony, concentration, and vivacity.
The harvest is carried out by hand once the grapes have reached full ripeness, and these are transported to the domain in 40kg cases to preserve the fruit as much as possible and avoid any damage. Once at the winery, the grapes are taken straight to the pneumatic press. The bunches are not handled much at all, as this can lead to alterations in the taste that affect the juice’s purity. Alcoholic fermentation begins after 3 or 4 days thanks to wild yeasts found on the grape skin. The process takes 3 to 6 months for the wine to become complex and intense. No enzymes are added to the wine, there is no chaptalisation, and lastly no fining.
Once fermented, the wine is separated from its lees and gradually clarified. Maturation lasts 4 to 8 months, bringing even more finesse and texture to the final product. After bottling, usually at the start of September, the wine is placed in a temperature-controlled cellar for at least a few months – sometimes a few years! – to finish obtaining the maturity sought by the domain.
The team at iDealwine has certainly been won over by the frankness of this wine and its total lack of any artifice; the finished work of a truly dedicated vintner. This passion for crafting fine wine and a love for the magic of terroir has been translated into the very bottles themselves.