Domaine Marcel Deiss
Domaine Marcel Deiss was founded in 1947. After the Second World War, Marcel returned to Bergheim to establish the Domaine Marcel Deiss in the heart of the Grand-Cru region. Viticulture has long been in the DNA: the Deiss family has been making wine since 1744. The domain now owns 27 hectares of vineyards and they can count themselves among the best producers in Alsace. Today, Marcel still keeps a close eye on things, where his son Jean-Michel manages the vineyards and grandson Matthieu runs the domaine.
In the 90s, Jean-Michel changed course and went against traditional currents. For example, the winery was completely transformed into biodynamic viticulture and he pushed the idea that Alsace wines should consist of one grape variety of the table. Alsace wines were usually made from one grape variety, where elsewhere in France, the region or the village is shown proudly, Alsace wines are usually praised for the grape variety used. Jean-Michel had a different theory about that. He sees the vineyard as more important than the grape itself. He planted up to thirteen different grape varieties in his vineyards together, “Complantation” as it used to be quite normal back in the days. According to Jean-Michel, grapes play a minor role in the proces and only as a tool to express the terroir’s character.
“Grapes play a minor role in the proces and only as a tool to express the terroir’s character”
Deiss makes a clear distinction between “vins de fruits” and “vins de terroirs”. Vins de Fruits are wines that mainly reflect the character of the grape and the vintage. A few “vins de fruits” are still produced on the domaine, such as the famous Gewurtztraminer. Because Deiss wants to let the terroir speak as much as possible, so they mainly focus on the Vins de Terroirs.
In 1993 Deiss produced a Riesling, which according to many people did not taste like Riesling and a lot of criticism followed. It was time for Deiss to remove the classic grape name from the bottle to focus on the vineyard. “I realized that the grape in a vineyard is an ingredient but not a meal”. The goal became to express the precise flavor of the terroir instead of letting the grape speak. From that moment on he started planting several grape varieties next to each other.
“I realized that the grape in a vineyard is an ingredient but not a meal”
One happy family
The “Complantation” wines from Deiss represent the combination of different grape varieties in a terroir. Although this seems like a modern technique, because it is not common (anymore), it is the oldest form of viticulture before cloning even existed. By planting different grapes next to each other, a naturalistic ecosystem is created with a lot of freedom and respect for nature. It functions as a large family that lives together on the terroir. There is mutual communication, nutrients are distributed fairly and the grapes continuously work towards a healthy mutual harmony. Biodynamics stands for the most respectful way of working together with nature, so that the deep originality of the terroir comes out as pure as possible. Or as Deiss beautifully puts it “that which connects the infinitely small with the whole cosmos” and then comes to its optimum justice.
“Planting different grapes next to each other creates a naturalistic ecosystem with a lot of freedom and respect for nature. It functions as a large family that lives together on the soil. ”
Domaine Marcel Deiss is a much-discussed winemaker in France. One calls him a fool, the other a genius. His rebellious actions have sparked much debate over the years, but the philosophy has remained unchanged. An exceptional winemaker who makes exceptional wines, that is a fact for us.
“An exceptional winemaker who makes exceptional wines”