Jean-Baptiste Adam: Ammerschwihr
The facility was unlike anything I had been before. The most striking presence is certainly that of the massive foudres, or oak barrels positioned through the stone walled winery. These things are massive and hold a ton (3,150 liters in the one to the left) of juice as it ferments into wine. The foudres are so well-made and robust that they have been used at the winery for decades. They are neutral at this point and give little flavor to the wines. When fermentation is complete and the wines are transferred to either barrels of bottles for aging, the foudres must be cleaned. To do this, a person has to get inside via the tiny door at the bottom. I can't image how claustrophobic I would feel being inside a dark barrel with such a small way in and out! I noticed some crystal-like conglomerates set about the room. When I asked what they were, Jean-Baptiste explained they are tartrates, or wine diamonds, which naturally occur in the wines and are removed when the foudres are being cleaned. Some older equipment still sits in the winery for the sake of posterity. The history of this place is simply magical.
Production of the wines at Jean-Baptiste Adam has come a long way in four centuries. Today, they are using top of the line technology in the winery and vineyards, but the spirit of tradition is alive and well and influences every decision Jean-Baptiste and his family make regarding their wines.
After the tour, Jean-Baptiste invited me to his cellar to view his incredible collection of library wines. It was amazing to see how a particular vintage seemed to bring a distinct and special memory to Jean-Baptiste. He searched around for a bottle of my vintage, 1987, but without luck. He gifted me a bottle or 1986, the closest he had. This was the only bottle I brought back from the entire trip and one I have yet to open.
Around noon my visit with Jean-Baptiste came to a close as he had some other business to attend to during the bustle of harvest. He sent me down a road that wound through his incredible vineyards and brought me to an restaurant where I had an insane, four-course lunch and tasted some more delicious Alsatian wines. After my meal. I drove the wine route and let myself get a little lost in the incredibly beautiful vineyards and villages of the region. From there, I headed to Burgundy...
Wines to Try
Jean-Baptiste Adam Pinot Gris Reserve 2015
This is an incredible place to start your experience of these wines. The reserve designated shows that the wine was made using only the very best fruit from that harvest. This wine is fresh, having fermented in stainless steel vats with no oak. It's a brilliant yellow-gold color with stone fruit.
Jean-Baptiste Adam Brut Rosé Cremant d'Alsace
I can't say enough about how much I love love love this wine. It's not sweet at all but it's decadent and is pure strawberries and cream on the palate. The bubbles are fine and delicate and persistent. It's made of 100% pinot noir fermented in the century old foudres.
Jean-Baptiste Adam 'Les Natures' Pinot Noir 2013
The 'Les Natures' line from JB Adam is all organic. This pinot noir is the only red wine they make and it is positively stunning. The fruit is not as earthy as Burgundy and tasted very ripe and red. I love this wine vintage after vintage when I can find it. It's ready to drink young!