I have been fortunate enough to have visited Alsace a number of times. The most recent time I was there, I was with Brad Lewis for only a few days, tasting the new vintage from both Paul Zinck and J. L Meyer. I don’t remember the wines as clearly as the striking beauty of the region; it is such a beautiful and historic place. Brad and I visited J.L Meyer just before heading to Oradour-sur-Glane. Ten years ago this spring and I remember it in pieces.
What I do remember with perfect clarity is the first time I visited the Alsace. We traveled from Nantes, in the Loire Valley, through the Touraine and on to Sancerre, before departing to first Chablis then to Colmar.
Our only visit in Alsace was of course, Domaine Weinbach. We sat in the parlor, catching our breaths from the long day on the road, while Catherine Faller poured us through all of the Domaine’s wines. As we tasted, Laurence explained each wine, vineyard location, soil composition and other technical info that helped decode these world-class wines. Dinner was equally memorable. Colette prepared the local specialty, baeckeoffe, and we dined at her staff table, in the massive kitchen, with only the three of us and Colette, Laurence and Catherine. The wine flowed, the dinner was impeccable, and the memory unforgettable. The three ladies were perfect hosts, balancing humility, elegance and pride all while being widely regarded as perhaps the top white wine estate in the world! Simply captivating!
It was shattering to learn of the loss of Laurence late last year. At age 47 and certainly at the top of her game, it is a loss to the wine world, not only one of the best female winemakers, but one of the best winemakers. This loss was only deepened this past week to learn of the passing of the matriarch of the Domaine, Madam Colette Faller. As much as has been written about the three ladies of the Clos des Capucins, the one memory I will never forget is of that cold evening at the Domaine, a hot dish of baeckeoffe and a cool glass of Pinot Gris from one of the masters.
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
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