From $13.99 (on offer), €14.50, HK$185, £21, RMB238
Josmeyer was founded in Wintzenheim near Colmar in 1854 by Aloyse Meyer and the estate has been a pioneer in biodynamics in Alsace since 2000, first under the leadership of the late Jean Meyer. The estate is now run by his daughters. Winemaker Isabelle and estate manager Céline (pictured below in what I imagine is a less then typical set-up) have been closely involved since 2009. It was Céline and Isabelle's grandfather Hubert who renamed the estate Josmeyer to distinguish it from the many other Meyers in Alsace. (For more history, see their website.)
The 25-ha (60-acre) estate comprises 90 parcels of organically and biodynamically certified vines both on the slopes and on the plain, including vineyards in the famous Hengst and Brand grands crus. The Fleur de Lotus NV comes from the flatter lands where the soils are mostly sand, shingle and silt with quite a high proportion of clay, which seems to have contributed to the delicious balance between richness and freshness in this wine.
Fleur de Lotus is a creative, appropriately named and captivating blend of roughly 50% Pinot (referring to both Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, as they do in Alsace), 30–35% Gewurztraminer, 10% Muscat and 5% Riesling, from 40-year-old vines. Rather than losing the characteristics of the varieties by blending them, all their aromas and flavours come together to create multi-faceted harmony and complexity.
The wine is a light golden colour and its gently exotic scent combines spice, golden plums, citrus, baked apple, a very slight floral note and even a touch of honey. But if you are averse to aromatic whites, don’t be deterred at this point. On the palate it tastes dry – the very low residual sugar of 3 g/l adds weight and richness not sweetness. It is full of complex fruit flavours but is also beautifully refreshing with a tight core of citrus acidity. It’s both ripe and vibrant. The texture is somehow both firm and fluid and yet it’s just 12% alcohol.
The grapes are pressed very gently and slowly and then fermentation starts naturally without the addition of yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks. After a week the fermenting wine is transferred to centenarian foudres (pictured top right), where the wine continues to ferment for anywhere between one and four months. It is then aged on its lees before bottling.
Fleur de Lotus was perfect as an aperitif and I imagine it would go well with delicate spices but, sad to say, the bottle was empty before we got to dinner (in my defence, there were four of us).
I looked on the label for the vintage, only to discover it is actually a non-vintage wine though some retailers mistakenly assign it a specific year. Céline Meyer explains that they have not put a vintage on their blends since 2010 because they believe that ‘even if the wine is mainly from a single vintage, another vintage may be complementary and add a little touch which brings balance’. They do not try to override vintage characteristics but they do aim for a similar style from one year to the next.
Since I have tasted only one bottle of this, I asked Frédéric Grappe of Dynamic Vines, Josmeyer's UK importer, if he thought the wine changed much from year to year. In his experience, 'Vintage variation does exist very slightly but unless you know the wine really well, you would not notice. This is a blend of different varieties to achieve a style of wine so the variation is far less than other terroir-driven wines from the Josmeyer range.'
The Josmeyer labels are particularly distinctive. Created in collaboration with different artists, they are designed to reflect the character of the wines they decorate.
Rather bizarrely, I came across this wine in Spain, courtesy of the super-efficient Spanish online retailer Vinissimus, who have a very good and diverse portfolio. They also deliver to the UK but the cost is obviously higher than for delivery within Spain.
In the UK, Fleur de Lotus is available online from Buon Vino or from their shop just outside Settle in Lancashire, or direct from Dynamic Vines, whose own shop in Bermondsey, south London, is open on Saturdays.
In the US, it is available from K&L Wine Merchants in California (they ship to several states and their current offer price is a mere $13.99) as well as from Martin Wine Cellars in Louisiana (at a more typical price of $21.99). And, according to Wine-Searcher, you can find it in Singapore and China.