Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Winemaker Dinner with Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann, Alsace, at Bart Vandaele's Belga Café on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA/ Alsace

Picture: Annette Schiller, Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann in Pfaffenheim, Alsace, and Chef Bart Vandaele at Belga Café

Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann in Pfaffenheim, Alsace, was in town (Washington DC). Annette Schiller and I had the chance to enjoy his wines and his company twice.

We attended a fun winemaker dinner with Jean-Claude at Bart Vandaele's trendy Belga Café. A couple of days later, Jean-Claude was in McLean, Virginia, to present his wines at The Vineyard Wine Store.

We will see him again in a few weeks in Pfaffenheim, Alsace, on the Germany-South and Alsace Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours. See: Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018)

Domaine Rieflé-Landmann

Viticulture has been a Rieflé family affair for 6 generations, since 1850. From the 1980s, Annick and Jean-Claude Rieflé were at the helm. They were joined at the domaine by their sons, Thomas and Paul, in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Thomas manages the vineyard and Paul is in charge of sales and marketing. Recently, the Rieflé family took over the vineyards of Seppi Landmann and renamed the estate to Domaine Rieflé-Landmann. The vineyard area totals 23 hectares, including a plot in the Grand Cru vineyard Steinert.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Christian Schiller, Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann in Pfaffenheim, Alsace, and Chef Bart Vandaele at Belga Café

Domaine Rieflé-Landmann (Stephan Reinhard/ Robert Parker)

Stephan Reinhard (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate): Domaine Rieflé-Landmann is the new name of the former Domaine Rieflé, which is located in a beautiful old winemaker's house that was built in Pfaffenheim, Southern Alsace, in 1609. That's because the Rieflé family took over the vineyards from the vigneron and bon vivant Seppi Landmann, a living legend who started his late winemaking career in 1982 without owning a winery. Landmann had rented a cellar in Soultzmatt where he produced some remarkably good, if not mythic wines beyond all traditions (Cuvée Sophie Marceau, Cuvée Erotique, Hors La Loi, Vallée Noble, Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé...). His personal brand still exists (otherwise he would not have sold his vineyards) so that's why the renamed Domaine Rieflé-Landmann markets its wines under two different signatures: the well established Domaine Rieflé and the Seppi Landmann brand.

Pictures: Reception

The family, today represented by the young brothers Thomas (who cares for the vineyards) and Paul Rieflé (who does all the marketing things and showed me the vineyards and the wines), farms 79 different blocks adding up to 23 hectares (57 acres). The vines are located close to the winery in Pfaffenheim and Rouffach and, since Landmann sold his vines, also in Westhalten and Soultzmatt. They are classified for six different appellations: Crémant d'Alsace, Alsace, Alsace Côte de Rouffach, Alsace Vallée Noble, Alsace Grand Cru Steinert and Alsace Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé. Paul hopes that the lieu-dits of Pfaffenheim -- Bergweingarten (a small single vineyard within the Côte de Rouffach and adjacent to the Grand Cru Steinert which is, and always was, planted 90% with Gewurztraminer) and Bihl (east of the village) -- will receive Premier Cru status one day.

The Rieflé brothers share a humanist and socially responsible approach to winemaking. Faced with the realities of a global market, they took inspiration from the famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

Since years, the domaine farmed their vineyards organically and with the recently released 2014 vintage, Rieflé-Landmann is an AB-certified organic wine producer. Unusual enough yet visionary, perhaps the manual work is outsourced to a local association for professional reintegration, what Paul Rieflé calls "a part of our humanist approach and support for the local community." It also "engenders a strong identity which cannot be delocalized, and which is a guarantee of sustainability in a rapidly changing world," Paul believes.

Pictures: Winemaker Dinner with Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann, Alsace, at Bart Vandaele's Belga Café on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA/ Alsace

The domaine produces a wide but well structured range of wines -- variety wines for every day, villages wines for more ambitious wine lovers and the grands crus and late harvested wines for hedonists -- that reflect the originality of the Alsatian wine culture and the specific terroirs. The most prominent single vineyard of the former Domaine Rieflé is the Grand Cru Steinert which overlooks the village of Pfaffenheim, in which the family holds 65 ares. It is based on an oolitic limestone massif, which is scarcely covered by topsoil in several places. Whereas Riesling is planted on the uppermost part of the cru, Pinot Gris likes it halfway down on the flattest parts. To stress the influence of the terroir, Rieflé produced a blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris under the Grand Cru Steinert appellation in 2014; whereas in 2013 the Seppi Landmann Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé was already an assemblage of four varieties. Will this be the future at Rieflé-Landmann: selling terroir instead of varieties? This would be courageous and pioneering.

Although by far I did not taste all the wines produced at Rieflé-Landmann -- curious to taste the Bergweingarten once -- the wine quality is very good if not excellent, whereas the prices are still extremely fair. This is a very promising domaine to discover and some of the wines should (or will) be available in the US.

The Dinner at Belga Café

Chef Bart M. Vandaele, Belga Café and BToo

Bart M. Vandaele is one of the best chefs in Washington DC. He started out as the chef of the EU Ambassador to the US before opening Belga Café on the Hill, behind the Capitol. He then opened B Too on 14th Street NW, which is much larger and bit more casual than the Belga Café.

Picture: Fuad Issa, Annette Schiller, Bart M. Vandaele, Christian Schiller, Laurant Lala, Etienne Verdier, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard and Greet De Keyser, Bart M. Vandaele's Partner. See: Chef Bart M. Vandaele Celebrated the 2 Year Anniversary of his B Too Restaurant with the Wines of Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard from Chablis, USA/France

bravo: Bart Vandaele eats, breathes, and sleeps restaurants and food. With a rambunctious personality and flare for strong opinions, Bart loves to share his passions for Belgian cuisine, Belgian beer, and Belgian culture. He is the Executive Chef and Owner of Belga Café, a restaurant in Washington, DC specializing in Belgian food and beer, and the upcoming B Too. Bart began culinary school at age 12, externing at Michelin-starred Au Vigneron, and moving on to work at renowned Belgian restaurants including Piet Huysentruyt and Restaurant Scholteshof, which earned two Michelin stars during his tenure as Sous Chef.

Pictures: Chef Bart Vandaele in Action

Bart moved to DC in 1997 to serve as Executive Chef to the Ambassador to the European Union, followed by the Dutch Embassy. In 2006, Bart won StarChef.com's “Rising Star Chef” award, and in 2007 he prepared the Belgian Beer Lover’s Degustation at the James Beard House. He was also knighted in the order of Leopold II in 2009. Bart’s cooking is a combination of rustic and refined, playful yet soulful.

The Dinner


Reception

Crémant d'Alsace Blanc de Blanc Brut Domaine Rieflé NV

First

Crémant d'Alsace Blanc de Blanc Brut Domaine Rieflé NV
Tarte Flambée Waffle


Second

Pinot Blanc Domaine Rieflé 2015
House made Boudin Blanc
Green cabbage/ Juniper/ Green apple


Third

Riesling Steinert Grand Cru Domaine Rieflé 2014
Hudson Valley foie gras bouillon
Tortellini of butternut/ Chervil


Fourth

Pinot Noir L'Étoffe Domaine Rieflé 2016
Hay smoked squab breast
Morel mushrooms/ Green peas/ Spring onions/ squab confit


Fifth

Pinot Gris Steinert Grand Cru Domaine Rieflé 2011
Chimay beer cheese & red endive salad


Sixth

Crémant d'Alsace Domaine Rieflé
Petite surprise aux chocolate Belge


The Wines

Crémant d'Alsace Blanc de Blanc Brut Domaine Rieflé NV

Crémant is a sparkling wine produced in the Méthode Champenoise in France, but not a Champagne. Currently, there are eight appellations in France for sparkling wine which include the designation Crémant in their name: Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant de Loire, Crémant de Savoie.

As a new development in the EU, the Crémant designation has started to appear outside of France, including in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

This Crémant Brut, made from 40% Pinot Blanc, 40% Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Gris and 10% Auxerrois is floral and delicately fruity on the nose with notes of brioche. It is generous on the palate, with fine bubbles and a sugar dosage which remains discreet.


Pinot Blanc Domaine Rieflé 2015

This Pinot Blanc displays summery notes of yellow stone fruits and flowers. Aromas of ripe peach and apricot are underpinned by good acidity making this a fresh and fruity wine with a very
pleasant texture on the palate.

Alcohol: 13%
Acidity: 5,95 g/l (tartric)
Residual sugar: 1.7 g


Riesling Steinert Grand Cru Domaine Rieflé 2014

The Grand Cru Steinert vineyard lies 13km south of Colmar and overlooks the village of Pfaffenheim. It sits just below the Schauenberg mountain, known as the mountain of contemplation, which is considered to be an important place of natural energy.

Steinert literally refers to the stony nature of the terroir. It lies opposite the Alsace plain, the Rhine and the Black Forest and faces towards the rising sun. The hard, homogeneous, dry and filtering soil sits directly on the oolithic limestone bedrock which is partially visible on the surface. Oolites are small spherical grains, shaped like fish eggs, that were formed on the surface of the rocks by marine microfossils. Wines from the Steinert vineyards are characterised by their powerful structure combined with a subtle finesse and underlying menthol notes.

Domaine Rieflé has 65 ares of vines on this terroir. Riesling is planted on the uppermost part of the parcel and Pinot Gris half-way down on the flattest parts.

Alcohol: 12°
Acidity : 9,6 g/l (tartric)
Residual sugar: 8 g


Pinot Noir L'Étoffe Domaine Rieflé 2016

Forbes: White grapes are typically what first jump to mind when we think of Alsace – Riesling in particular, plus Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Muscat make up about 90% of their plantings. Pinot Noir, however, counts for the other 10% and its numbers have slowly been growing in recent years; it is the only red variety in the region and is now the fifth most planted grape overall.

What accounts for its recent emergence? Winemakers point to climate change (which enables the grapes to reach consistent phenolic ripeness), and the next generation’s intentionally broad experience globally before returning to their home region to succeed their parents in the vineyard and the cellar. Technically, it’s the region’s clay and limestone soils that are responsible for Alsatian Pinot’s light to medium body, red fruit aromas, vibrant acidity, and fresh tannins.

It is a silky red wine, with soft tannins and red fruits flavours. 100% Pinot Noir.

Alcohol: 13%
Acidity: 5.3 g/l (tartric)
Residual sugar: 0 g/l


Pinot Gris Steinert Grand Cru Domaine Rieflé 2011

This Grand Cru Steinert Pinot Gris opens up with an expressive bouquet of zesty yellow fruits such as pineapple and mango. Although smooth in texture, the limestone terroir imparts a fresh and acidic structure, which is accentuated by candied notes of quince and fig on the end palate.

The perfect partner for foie gras but you can also try it with a generously garnished tuna steak or with desserts such as pineapple fritters or crème brûlée.

Alcohol: 14.5%
Residual Sugar: 39.1 g/l
Tartaric Acid: 5.9 g/l


Crémant d'Alsace Domaine Rieflé

The Crémant parcels are generally situated on deep, predominantly sedimentary loess soils which produce very ripe grapes (particularly in Drotfeld).

This Crémant Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and offers zesty, small red fruits on the nose. It is generous on the palate, has fine bubbles and a sugar dosage which remains discreet.


The Tasting at The Vineyard in McLean, Virginia

A few days after the dinner at Belga Café, we met Jean-Claude Rieflé again at a tasting in one of Northern Virginia's leading winestores, The Vineyard in McLean.

Invitation

Come taste Alsatian wines with Domaine Rieflé owner and winemaker Jean-Claude and hear about his family's history as well as their current humanist and socially responsible approach to winemaking including their endeavour into organic agriculture.

The Rieflé family is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the Rhine. The domaine's very identity is inspired by the spirit of its beautiful winemaker’s house which was built in PFAFFENHEIM in 1609. It sits next to a magnificent church with a 13th century choir, the quintessence of Roman architecture. Six generations have built the family's winemaking tradition since it began in 1850.

Pictures: Tasting with Jean-Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé-Landmann, Alsace, at The Vineyard in McLean, Virginia

The Wines Jean-Claude Rieflé Poured

Rieflé Crémant d'Alsace Brut, Alsace, France
Retail: $26.99
Our Price:18.99

Rieflé Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé, Alsace, France
Retail: $26.99
Our Price:18.99

2011 Rieflé Grand Cru Pinot Gris Steinert, Alsace, France
Retail: $39.99
Our Price:28.99

2014 Rieflé Grand Cru Riesling Steinert, Alsace, France
Retail: $39.99
Our Price:28.99

2016 Rieflé Pinot Noir, Alsace, France
Retail: $26.99
Our Price: 18.99

The Godfather of Alsace

Following his stay in the Washington DC/ Northern Virginia area, Jean-Claude travelled to Salt Lake in Utah and then further to the West Coast. On April 19th, he will be at Fig&Thistle in San Francisco.


We will see him again in a few weeks in Pfaffenheim, Alsace on the Germany-South and Alsace Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours. See: Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018)

Ombiasy Winemaker Dinners with Chef Bart Vandaele

Annette Schiller and I have participated in several winemaker dinners at BToo and Belga Café during the past years (see below). In fact, Annette Schiller has organized a number of winemaker events/ dinners at BToo. And, there is a winemaker dinner organized by Annette with Daina Paulin of Château Bailly coming up on May 8th, 2018. See: Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018).

See:

Winemaker Dinner with Christian L. Stahl, Winzerhof Stahl, Franken, Germany, and Chef Dieter Samyn at BToo in Washington DC, USA

Post-Rieslingfeier and Pre-Big Glou Dinner with 3 Top Winemakers from Germany at BToo in Washington DC: Clemens Busch, Immich-Batterieberg and Koehler-Ruprecht, USA

Winemaker Dinner with Château LAFON-ROCHET Wines and Winemaker Anaïs Maillet at Chef Bart Vandaele’s Hipp B Too Restaurant in Washington DC, US/France

Weingut Gunderloch – The New Generation: Owner Johannes Hasselbach in Washington DC, US

The Wines of Stefanie and Alwin Jurtschitsch, Weingut Jurtschitsch, Kamptal, Austria

Weingut von Hoevel – The New Generation: Max von Kunow in Washington DC, US

See also:

JJ Prüm Winemaker Dinner at BToo in Washington DC/ USA, with Wilhelm Steifensand ("Herr Prüm") and Chef Bart Vandaele

Winemaker Dinner with David Reynaud, Domaine les Bruyeres, Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhône Valley, at Chef Bart Vandaele's BToo in Washington DC, USA/ France

Post-Rieslingfeier and Pre-Big Glou Dinner with 3 Top Winemakers from Germany at BToo in Washington DC: Clemens Busch, Immich-Batterieberg and Koehler-Ruprecht, USA

Chef Bart M. Vandaele Celebrated the 2 Year Anniversary of his B Too Restaurant with the Wines of Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard from Chablis, USA/France 

A Feast with Jean Trimbach, Maison Trimbach in Alsace, and Chef Bart M. Vandaele at B Too in Washington DC, USA/France

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018)

Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

1 comment:

  1. The 2015 Pinot Gris, Grand Cru Steinert got the Platinum "Best of Category" award in Decanter's World Wine Awards, 2017. 96 Points.

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