A partnership based on passion
Biecher & Schaal is a partnership built on a passion for Grand Cru Alsace. Created in 2011, it is a joint venture between Olivier Biecher, whose family have been making wine in the region since 1776, and Julien Schaal, a seasoned winemaker who has trained among the best in Burgundy, Rhone, South Africa and, of course, Alsace. Both have other interests – Olivier owns his eponymous negociant, while Julien produces wine under his own name and works with the Newton Johnson brothers in Hemel en Aarde, South Africa – but their mutual passion for this singular terroir and the delicate, versatile wines it can produce laid the foundation for a great partnership. The aim was to form a small, high-quality negociant focusing solely on Grand Cru vineyard sites, with a strong emphasis on Riesling.
The grapes come exclusively from Grand Cru classified vineyards. They are picked by hand and carefully sorted before going to the beautifully-renovated 18th century cellar, in the historic village of Saint Hippolyte. The grapes are then gently pressed for a minimum of 12 hours in order to extract the best possible juice, and slowly fermented for up to four months. No sulphur is added until the following spring, giving the aromatics sufficient time to awaken and fully express themselves.
One of the greatest Grand Cru vineyards they work with is Sommerberg, which literally translates as Summer Mountain. This steep south-facing slope has granite soils rich in minerals and has produced some of the region’s finest wines since the 13th century.
Biecher & Schaal’s Grand Cru Sommerberg is made from 45-year-old Riesling vines, which create an intense, mineral wine with complex lime fruit, a touch of honey and a pinch of spice.
Here’s what Jancis Robinson had to say about the 2014 vintage:
“Tasted blind. Extremely floral and bumptious – just soars out of the glass! Biodynamic? Really interesting and literally like a bouquet of flowers but bone dry and appetising on the end. Very distinctive. So exotic that there could be some botrytis here, even though it is bone dry. ‘Like or loathe’ wine. I like. Very interesting wine.” 17/20.
Biecher & Schaal Grand Cru Sommerberg Riesling 2014