Discovering Emile Beyer’s Brilliant Wines: Alsace Adventure Part 2

By | 31 March 2024

Located in Eguisheim, Emile Beyer is an extraordinary winemaker. I had the pleasure of meeting with Christian and Valerie Beyer. Eguisheim is a historic wine village in Alsace with a history dating back to the second century AD. The village started as a Roman camp and has always had a strong historical presence. It is even the birthplace of a pope in 1002. The town, neatly preserved, boasts 360 hectares of vineyards, making it the fifth largest wine town in Alsace. It is also home to two Grand Crus: Eichberg and Pferisberg.

Before tasting their wines, we had a tour in the vineyards. The Beyers shared about the distinct characteristic of Alsace being one of the most complex regions in terms of terroir in France. Approximately 50 million years ago, the Vosges and Black Forest mountains were one. Formed from an uplifted elementary granite, these landforms were then submerged under the sea, causing sedimentary deposition. Eventually, the center of the uplift collapsed, causing the parting of the Vosges and Black Forest mountains. The rift valley in between gave birth to the Rhine plain. Over time, the seas and rivers have further altered the combined soil types. This resulted in Alsace’s current variety of 14 different soil types including limestone, granite, volcanic and schist within a 150 km reach. This region also enjoys a variety of climates.

Valerie is currently studying for an enology degree at Dijon wine school. She is conducting a study about the influence of stems on Gewurztraminer. She’s only using the stems in her research to see its effects. However, the results are not yet available.

The development of Pinot Noir in Alsace is intriguing and Emile Beyer is among those leading the pursuit. The yield for Pinot is kept low at 28 hl/ha to prevent over-ripeness. The fermentation process, taking up to three weeks, is more of an infusion method rather than extraction and does not involve any punching down.

The 2023 vintage was significantly easier to navigate than the challenging 2021, though the summer’s drought wasn’t entirely unfelt. The vintage was ultimately rescued by two cool weeks in the dawn of August. Oppressively hot and dry conditions prevailed throughout June and July.

In times past, says Christian, it was critical to pick Pinot Noir as ripe as possible, yielding alcohol concentrations of around 14 or 15%. Fortunately, this trend has shifted. ‘But Alsace has excellent potential for growing Pinot Noirs.’

Emile Beyer Pinot Noir Eguisheim 2022 (sample from the barrel)
This sample was extracted from three different barrels, mostly aged between 2-4 years. This vintage incorporates some whole clusters, which adds a refreshing note. Its sweetly aromatic profile boasts floral black cherries and raspberries, alongside mineral earthy undertones. On the palate, it displays vibrancy and directness, with a gracious heart of black cherries complemented by hints of meat and charcoal. It’s rich and expressive, bursting with lovely fruit intensity and a savoury meaty quality. Truly exemplary. 94/100 (€119)

Emile Beyer Pinot Noir Eguisheim 2020
This vintage, aged mostly in old oak (10-15% new) and exclusively in small casks, is floral, bright, and expressive. It comes with good tannins and pleasant acidity, along with tart sour cherry, enticing raspberry, and cherry elements. It’s fresh, lively, and invigorating, showcasing good concentration and impressive flavour intensity. 93/100

Emile Beyer Pinot Noir Lieu Dit Sundel 2022 (cask sample)
This wine is 100% new oak and boasts dominant flavors of red and black cherry, and raspberry. It impresses with its structural focus, purity of fruit and well-integrated oak flavor, concluded by a hint of sour cherry. Its defining features are its intense freshness and laser-sharp precision. Wine Score: 95/100

Emile Beyer Pinot Noir Lieu Dit Sundel 2020
This version contains 13% alcohol and a similar oak content. It carries a mineral and stony edge along with bright cherry and raspberry notes. It has a good intensity bolstered by the presence of firm, fine tannins and fresh, bright fruit with high acidity. This wine incorporates savouriness and strong fruity components, thus delivering a satisfying finish. Wine Score: 94/100

Emile Beyer Mosaïque 2022
This mix contains 13.5% alcohol, alluding to a fruity, generous and expressive flavor profile. It is a blend of 60% Riesling and 40% Pinot Gris, featuring zestful lemon and fine spices. The balance of this wine is commendable, revealing a delicate, fine-grained mineral character paired with impeccable depth of fruit. Wine Score: 93/100

Emile Beyer Liber 2021
This iteration brings forth a unique blend, resultant of a small crop where only individual berries were harvested. It is a low sulfite concoction incorporating Gewurztraminer skin fermented and unfiltered elements. The scent of flowers is evident, with rose petal and mandarin dominating the notes. The palate experiences a level of complexity with a structured composition of light bitterness and acidity, combined with melon, peach, and pear. It has a bright and vivid presence, finishing with notes of white pepper, spice and honey. Wine Score: 93/100

Emile Beyer Riesling Grand Cru Eichberg 2022
Fresh and linear with lovely lime, lemon and pear fruit. Fine structure here with some mineral and spice, showing fine spices and a slight salinity. Dry and beautifully expressive with great precision. A beautiful expression of Riesling. Youthful but with amazing integrated acidity. 94/100

Emile Beyer Riesling Grand Cru Eichberg 2020
So fine and linear with chiselled citrus fruit and good acidity. Linear and bright with notes of chalk and lime, and finishing with a lovely acid line. Shows precision and a lack of heaviness: this is delicate and fresh with a stony brightness on the finish. 94/100

Emile Beyer Riesling Grand Cru Pfersigberg 2020
pH 3.1 and 8 g/l TA. It’s almost a Mediterranean microclimate, with the green lizard and rosemary and lavender in this south-facing slope. Powerful and intense with high acidity and lovely lime fruit. Powerful and expressive with such high acidity, showing a youthful intensity. Stony and mineral. 94/100

Emile Beyer Pinot Gris Lieu Dit Hohrain 2022
14% alcohol. Powerful, fresh, dry expression of Pinot Gris (9 g/l rs, TA 7 g/l), with some grapey richness, a touch of cherry and some nice spicy notes. Lovely depth of fruit here with beautiful balance. Very fine. 93/100

Emile Beyer Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg 2022
14% alcohol. This wine incorporates a slight maceration to provide a balanced phenolic profile. The aromatics in this are refreshingly fruity, featuring notes of grape, rose petal, and a twist of lemon peel. The palate layers a hint of sweetness (12 g/l rs), delicacy, and structure, demonstrating exceptional balance. A perfect acid line adds to the experience – it’s just right, neither too much nor too little. 94/100

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