Alsace is a northern French region that has been catching the eye of more and more wine lovers over the years. It’s a dynamic spot. Both at auction and in the vineyards, winegrowers are asserting their ambition to create great wines that endure, using methods that respect their unique terroir.
As per usual, in order to ensure that our analysis reflects the diversity of the wines presented at auction, we have retained only one wine per property in this top 20 ranking, the one that has, of course, been sold at the highest price.
A quest for excellence
Every year, Alsace is gaining in value at iDealwine’s auctions: we’ve seen the ranking progress as a whole since, at the top, we find a lot which sold for €872. Anyone with an interest in this region will be unsurprised to see that this is the 1975 Clos Sainte-Hune Riesling from the Trimbach estate. From this we can conclude two things: firstly, that the top trio of Trimbach, Zind-Humbrecht and Marcel Deiss has persisted in its success; secondly, that prestigious terroirs, and more particularly those held as a monopoly, are still popular.
Alsace is the home of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat, noble grape varieties often vinified into single-varietal cuvées. This deeply rooted culture is illustrated in this classification, even if many winegrowers are now practising complantation, a phenomenon that should no doubt soon appear in our future rankings…
Alongside this traditional practice, the production of sweet and syrupy wines is favoured by Alsace’s continental climate. Thus, seven Sélections de Grains Nobles (SGN) and three Vendanges Tardives (VT) appear in our top ranking. Some examples? A pinot gris SGN Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Urbain 1989 from Zind-Humbrecht (#2, €238 for 750ml) and a riesling VT Schlossberg 2006 from Weinbach (#5, €108 for 750ml).
Finally, if Alsace is essentially renowned for its great white wines, the top 20 so far this year nonetheless features three Pinot Noirs within the first ten bottles. It’s worth noting that Gérard Schueller’s Le Chant des Oiseaux 2017 (#4, €117) is regularly compared to a Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The vintage effect
Obviously, vintages remain an important auction criterion. Witnesses of a bygone era or synonymous with rarity, they reveal the appetite of wine lovers for mature wines (Clos Saint-Landelin 1985 Riesling, #11, €70 per 750ml) and aged bottles that are ready to drink (Valentin Zusslin 2007 Pfingstberg Riesling, #16, €49 for 750ml). Others, younger but with potential for ageing, have likely been acquired with a view to heritage. For example, Pierre Andrey’s 2018 Vin de France Pinot Noir and Albert Boxler’s 2014 Brand Riesling can still be kept in the cellar for a good few years yet.
Finally, we can’t talk about Alsace without mentioning the new wave of growing methods that drive it. The continental climate as well as the good levels of sunshine favour sustainable growing, organics, and biodynamics… As well as the natural vinifications that follow. There are many key players here, such as Albert Mann, Ostertag and Valentin Zusslin. Just to illustrate further the success of these domains: 12 estates featured in the ranking are certified biodynamic and two are certified organic.
Highest-priced Alsace bottles: first semester 2021
|Position||Colour||Lot||Hammer price scaled to 750ml|
|1||White||1 bt riesling Clos Sainte-Hune 1975 Trimbach||€872|
|2||Dessert white||1 demi-bouteille pinot gris SGN Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Urbain 1989 Zind-Humbrecht||€238|
|3||Dessert white||2 bt riesling SGN Schoenenbourg 1994 Marcel Deiss||€117|
|4||Red||1 bt Alsace pinot noir Le Chant des Oiseaux 2017 Gérard Schueller||€117|
|5||Dessert white||1 demi-bt riesling VT Schlossberg 2006 Weinbach||€108|
|6||Dessert white||2 demi-bt gewurztraminer SGN GC Zinnkoepflé 2000 Seppi Landmann||€86|
|7||Red||1 bt Alsace pinot noir Clos de la Faille 2010 Albert Mann||€86|
|8||Red||1 bt Vin de France pinot noir 2018 Pierre Andrey||€80|
|9||Dessert white||1 bt gewurztraminer Fronholz VT 1998 Ostertag||€75|
|10||White||2 bt riesling Brand 2014 Albert Boxler||€74|
|11||White||3 bt riesling 1985 Clos Saint Landelin||€70|
|12||Dessert white||1 bt riesling SGN GC Geisberg 2001 Kientzler||€69|
|13||Dessert white||1 bt pinot gris (Tokay) SGN GC Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Theobald 1998 Schoffit||€64|
|14||Dessert white||3 bt gewurztraminer SGN Réserve Exceptionnelle 2000 Gustave Lorentz||€61|
|15||White||1 bt riesling Hengst Samain 2005 Josmeyer||€56|
|16||White||3 bt riesling Pfingstberg 2007 Valentin Zusslin||€49|
|17||White||2 bt Alsace Kastelberg 1992 Marc Kreydenweiss||€49|
|18||Dessert white||1 bt riesling Schoenenbourg 2013 Trapet||€49|
|19||White||1 bt gewurztraminer VT 2009 Hugel||€47|
|20||Dessert white||2 bt pinot gris (Tokay) SGN 1989 Léon Beyer||€46|