2002 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Sept Grains

Domaine Barmes-Buecher Sept Grains If you plan to visit the Barmes-Buecher's winery in Alsace, let Genevieve and Francois know you're coming and they'll probably give you a personal tour of their estate in Wettolsheim and the surrounding villages. And that's just for starters. They'll also want to show off their prized possession, which is located an hour away in the Vosges Mountains: the largest patch of organic compost this side of the Alps, also known as the Haag family's farm. No trip to the Haags' is complete without sampling their delicious organic ham, free-range chicken, and homemade (and homegrown) blueberry tart. All of which you'd wash down with Domaine Barmes-Buecher. After dining at the Haags', you could be forgiven for thinking that the regions numerous hikers are there for the food and wine rather than the mountain air.

Luckily for us, Francois and Genevieve still find time to make wine. Though their winery is located in one of the oldest winemaking villages of Alsace, Wettolsheim, the Barmes-Buechers run a very modern estate. After they took control of winemaking (from their respective families) in the mid-1980s, Francois and Genevieve began to experiment and modernize, especially when it came to the way they treated their ancient terroir. The fact that the Barmes-Buechers have planted as many as a dozen different varietals on their fifteen hectares attests to their willingness to defy conventions. One of their great achievements occurred in 1998, when they raised their first crops by using only natural, rather than chemical, methods of pesticide, herbicide, and fertilization. The idea of going biodynamic in these vineyards on the northern fringe of France's northernmost appellation might seem, to an outsider, like courting disaster. But decades of experience have taught Genevieve and Francois otherwise: the warm, dry growing season in Wettolsheim and its neighboring villages-which are located just outside of Colmar, at edge of the Vosges' eastern foothills-resembles that of Perpignan in southern France. What's more, the Barmes-Buechers ensure optimal growing conditions by planting hay among their grapes; this traps moisture in the soil, which is further enhanced with nutrients from the Haags' organic compost.

The Sept Grains is a blend of seven varietals that are grown on the winery's distinct vineyards: from the Hengst vineyard's Grand Cru Riesling to the Steingrubler's Gewurztraminer and Rosenberg's Pinot Blanc. This vintage combines the spiciness of Gewurztraminer and minerality of Riesling with the richness of Pinot Gris and crisp acidity of Pinot Blanc. Its orange and smoke bouquet yields to an intense, complex palate marked by hints of smoke, exotic fruit, and minerals, and lush finish. Drink now-2008.