Thursday, April 11, 2013

Where Soif Meets Sagesse: Laurent Barth

The story of Laurent Barth is a dear one, because the honoring of a family legacy and terroir is done in large part by a strong commitment to restoring the soil with the eradication of chemicals. 

"I have a link to my family's land, and I'm proud it finally has the Barth name on it. The idea was always to make wine from my village." 

Laurent Barth

Laurent Barth went to wine school in Burgundy, as many sons whose fathers grow grapes in France tend to do, and so he set off around the world in search of a true path, living and working on estates in Libya, South Africa, the US (California), India, and even Australia, before returning home. Barth honored his father's existing contracts for a few years, selling grapes to the local co-op, in the meanwhile fostering his vineyards with organic techniques he learned to improve the soil and health of the vines.  

His first vintage of estate bottling was 2004. Each year thereafter he began to experiment more and more with biodynamic techniques in the vineyard and cellar, always aiming to integrate what he'd learned with the specific realities he encountered as well as those reflected in the larger events written into the biodynamic calender. Restoring the proper use of sulfur, which had for years been abused--it has so completely damaged the reputation of Alsatian wines that to this day one sees a preference for Austrian or German whites from all but the most discriminating sommeliers. Another imperative for him is to use only indigenous yeasts; not for doctrinaire reasons, but "if the grapes are clean, if they are well selected at harvest, you get much more substance," says Barth. 

Just as he was patient to transform his father's vines into his own, Barth has been equally patient in his cellar, allowing for fermentation to take its time, a small "price to pay for complexity" in the wine that comes out of it. We're offering proof of the payoff of Barth's wanderings and patient arrival back in his hometown of Bennwihr in the form of a cornucopia of old-vine cuvées. 

While many 2011 wines have been long on the market (now 2012s are even showing up!), Barth is just now releasing his 2011s as their élevage has brought them to a stage where soif (thirst) meets sagesse (wisdom), reminding us quietly that Alsatian wine can be some of the most pleasantly drinkable wine on Earth. We're clearing off a major portion on our shelves to make room for these wines--because these are wines that will transport you to a place that's somewhere special. Bennwihr, north of Colmar in Alsace, is where you'll be.

Barth Gewurtztraminer Les Clos des Trois Chemins 2010, $25
Barth Pinot [Blanc] d'Alsace 2011, $15
Barth Pinot Noir 2011, $23
Barth Pinot Noir M 2011, $31
Barth Racines Metisses 2011, $17
Barth Riesling Vieilles Vignes 2011, $24

Try all six for only $125 or save 10% off eight or more! Click here to order some.

No comments: