An exceptional vineyard, one of a kind in Alsace
Clos Château d'Isenbourg
The Clos Château d'Isenbourg in Alsace, near the village of Rouffach (in the Haut-Rhin) and some 8 km south of Colmar, has seen the passage of many centuries and is today steeped in history. Its vineyards span 5 contiguous hectares that are entirely enclosed by walls, a rare thing in our region where wine estates are extremely fragmented.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The site has been occupied since
ancient times, and Alsace possesses numerous vestiges that bear witness to the
practice of viticulture in the region since the period of the Romans. The
Château d'Isenbourg was the residence of the Austrian royal family from the 5th
to the 8th century. Between 1100 and 1380, a series of battles between emperors
and popes saw the successive destruction and rebuilding of the château. Later it
was integrated into the town's fortifications, the walls of which were to prove
one of the principal assets of today's vineyard. It was finally sold as public
property during the French Revolution and later demolished to be replaced by a new
building, extended in 1894, that forms the greater part of the Chateau as we
know it today.
The Château was acquired by the hotel group Grandes Étapes Françaises in 1974 and transformed into a 4-star hotel and restaurant. The Clos and its vineyards belong to Dopff & Irion.
A UNIQUE PROPERTY
Properties the size of Château d'Isenbourg, enclosed by walls and perfectly preserved, are rare in Alsace. The Clos d'Isenbourg is the only walled vineyard, or Clos, in the region that is directly attached to its château. The vines, planted on south and south-east facing terraces by the clergy during the church's period of ownership of the château, are surrounded by walls of pink limestone that formed part of the town's fortifications. Today, these walls allow the vines to benefit from a microclimate in which they can flourish, by reflecting the sunlight and accumulating heat during the day, and by providing protection from the wind. The well-draining earth is a mixture of loess, clay, limestone and outcrops of sandstone, geologically similar to that of the nearby Grand Cru Vorbourg.
A pampered vineyard
The methods employed at the Clos meet the criteria for sites that are classified Grand Cru. No effort is spared to reduce the impact on the environment, by the use of natural products as often as is possible, and to obtain concentration and structure in the wines. The vines are pruned hard back to avoid an excess of grapes, and the cuts are treated to protect them. There are around 4,500 to 5,000 vines on each hectare, and their average age is 25 years - and over 40 for certain parcels. Yields, which are controlled by thinning, never exceed 60hl/ha. The grapes are picked and sorted by hand.
The grapes are pressed under the watchful eye of Jean-François Kueny, the Cellar Master, with his keen attention to detail. This operation is carried out as delicately as possible in pneumatic presses, before fermentation in thermo-regulated stainless-steel vats. The wine is then matured on lees for several months before being drawn off and filtered with Kieselguhr earth. After bottling it is stored in rigorously controlled conditions of temperature and humidity until it is ready to be released on the market.