Domaine Geschickt

Domaine Geschickt is an exciting producer from Ammerschwihr in Alsace just north of Colmar who have been farming biodynamically since 1998. The small village of Ammerschwihr lies in a beautiful valley and the town is surrounded by grape vines.

They produce some classic wines including some incredible Grand Cru wines (from Kaefferkopf  and Wineck-Schlossberg) as well as more modern styles of wine including a mind-blowing pet nat and some skin contact wines.

The photo above was taken in one of their vineyards. Notice the rolled grass which is allowed to grow then is rolled with a special machine so that it provides nutrients back into the soil.

As a general rule all wines are made without the addition of any sulphites, except in really bad years such as 2018 which was incredibly dry and hence there was not the normal accumulation of yeasts in the vineyards. This gave rise to very slow fermentations and the need to add some sulphites at bottling. The amount added is almost imperceptibly low!

The wines that we have are listed below.

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Pet Nat 2020

This wine has everything! It is not sweet, the bead is fine, the acidity adds to the taste sensation without dominating and it lingers for a long time.

The story starts with Pinot Auxerrois, Riesling and Muscat d’Alsace being handpicked from the Geschickt vineyards in a ratio of 40%, 40% and 20%. The Muscat was macerated for 2 weeks as Arnaud believes that this introduces more yeast and beneficial bacteria into the juice which leads to stronger fermentation than if all the grapes were direct pressed.

This is a common technique that they now use across most of their wines although the percentage of grapes that are macerated for a given cuvée may vary down to 10%.

There are no added sulphites in this wine and the alcohol level is an appealing 12.5%.

And, of course, the best thing is that it is a pet nat. We have been importing pet nats for a long time and they have become incredibly popular in Australia.

So the grapes for this one were direct pressed and the juice was then fermented in a tank. When the amount of residual sugar had reduced to a safe level (usually around 20 grams per litre), the fermenting wine was bottled. This year, the fermentation stopped with 3 grams of residual sugar remaining. This is a perfect amount of residual sugar to balance the acidity of the grapes and to provide the perfect balance for this to be a desirable aperitif.

The wine was disgorged to remove most of the yeast sediment that is deposited in the bottle.

It is fresh, it is vibrant, it is almost dry, it has lots of energy, it has fine bubbles and it is very, very tasty.

RRP: $53

Geschickt Cremant d’Alsace Double Zero 2018

Geschickt-Cremant-d'Alsace-double-zero-2015

A cremant sparkling wine which is called double zero because, as Aurelie Fayolle explained to us it usually has zero sulphites and zero added sugar (dosage). It is an “assemblage” of four grape varieties, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois and Riesling. The grapes were picked by hand then pressed slowly in a pneumatic press.

The first fermentation was entirely with natural yeasts. The wine was then bottled for the second fermentation (where some juice from 2017 was added to kick off the fermentation in the bottle) and the wine was matured “sur latte” to gain extra complexity.

RRP: $53 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt Vin de France W.S. Riesling Pet-Nat 2017

Geschickt-WS-2017

This is an amazing pet’nat but we only bought a small quantity. It is made from grapes that grow on a south-facing granitic slope in the famous Wineck-Schlossberg Grand Cru vineyard.

The wine was fermented naturally and was bottled before the fermentation finished to ensure that the bubbles would be created.

It was also not disgorged so some of the dead yeasts remain in the bottle to add texture to the wine. The bubbles are incredibly fine and not at all aggressive.

This is a fine example of an elegant pet’nat that can be enjoyed for a few years, we suspect.

RRP: $66 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Edelzwicker 1 litre

We are delighted to have received this, for us, new wine. There are two generic wines in Alsace made from blends of their grapes known as Edelzwicker and Gentil.

Gentil is a somewhat restricted blend of nominated grape varieties where there must be at least 50% of Alsace “noble grapes” which are Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and/or Gewürztraminer, and the rest can be either Sylvaner, Chasselas and/or Pinot Blanc.

The difference, up until recently, is that Edelzwicker (Edel stands for Noble and Zwicker means Blending) could only be made of any combination of the four noble grapes, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.

However, the deregulation of this term means that any grapes can be used to produce the blend whether they are so-called “noble grapes” or not.

We were delighted when we first tasted this wine as it is absolutely stunning! It is proof of the theory that blended wines can be greater than the individual parts, and that is certainly the case with this wine. It also represents excellent value for money!

This cuvée is a blend from wine made in 2016 and 2017.

RRP: $40 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace ‘Phenix’ Pinot Gris 2020

This is a skin contact (orange) wine made from Pinot Gris and a small amount of Gewurztraminer from the Kaefferkopf Grand Cru vineyard.

Like the maceration Pinot Gris we import from Jean Ginglinger this one is a deep pinky orange colour. The maceration continued for one month which has nicely developed the colour and the tannin structure in this wine. It was matured in steel tanks.

One extra bonus of maceration white wines (which are also called skin contact wines or orange wines) is that they match beautifully with a wide range of foods. In fact, you can drink them right through a meal.

It will improve and soften over two or three days after opening making it a great wine for restaurants to pour by the glass. An additional feature of this bottle is that it has a glass stopper therefore not corked bottles!

RRP: $55 for 750ml

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Riesling 2018/19

This is always a stunning Riesling of wonderful length and minerality made from grapes picked from various parcels near the villages of Birgele, Holderbaum and Prediger.

The vines have been managed biodynamically since 1998 and hence have become stronger and more resilient as a result.

This wine from two different vintages came about due to the incredibly dry year that Alsace experienced in 2018.

As a result, there was a lack of natural yeasts on the grapes and therefore the fermentation took a very long time to complete even though the juice was in a steel tank in a warmer part of the winery. It took until August 2020 to complete the ferment! The result was a wine that tasted good but was low in acidity.

The 2019 vintage was almost completely opposite. The fermentation was very fast and there was a good level of acid. The juice was fermented in fût (old wooden barrels) in a colder part of the cellar which was further underground.

The two vintages were then combined and bottled in November 2020.

RRP: $43 for 750ml

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Côtes d’Ammerschwihr 6 Pieds sur Terre 2017

When the French refer to vines in the vineyard, they refer to the number of vines in terms of “pieds” or feet. Each vine constitutes a “pied” which is from where the name is derived.

The name also is a joke referring to 6 feet underground. This is typical of so many wine labels in the natural wine movement where the name on the label has at least two, and sometimes more, meanings!

The name also refers to the fact that 6 different grape varieties were included in this wine in equal quantities. They are Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, Muscat d’Alsace, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc.

The wine exhibits lots of minerality and very appealing acidity.

The juice was transferred to an old foudre where it matured for 2 years with no added sulphites. It was then bottled and closed with a glass stopper.

The grapes for this wine were picked from the hills above the village where Geschickt has their winery, hence the reference to Côtes d’Ammerschwihr. This means that the vines are outside the Grand Cru Kaefferkopf area but are worthy of attention due to the quality of the grapes picked in this area.

RRP: $55

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Pino 2017

This is a blend of four Pinot grape varieties, namely Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Auxerrois with some of the Pinot Gris coming from the amazing Grand Cru Kaefferkopf vineyard for added complexity.

The vines are planted in complex terroir in several plots around Ammerschwihr which sees soils made from alluvial clay, marl, granite and limestone. This is fortunate because Pinot Auxerrois has a particular affinity for limestone and when grown in limestone also adds weight to a blend. Pinot Auxerrois is also known simply as Auxerrois and is a child of the grapes varieties Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc and is native to the Alsace and nearby Lorraine and Mosel.

The wine is blended and put in old wooden foudres to mature for 18 months. The wine is not fined or filtered and one gram of sulphites was added.

The wine is bottled with a DIAM closure.

RRP: $53

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Le Schlouk 2018

The name for this wine derives from the fact that it is mainly Gewürtztraminer but with an added splash (schlouk) of Riesling to freshen it up.

As you can see from the label, schlouk also means a “sip” or a “splash” in French.

The grapes were picked from vines that range from 20 years to 60 years old from various parcels above the quiet village of Ammerschwihr.

The grapes were combined in the press and pressed together.

RRP: $53 for 750ml

Geschickt Grand Cru Kaefferkopf Riesling 2016

Geschickt-Riesling-Grand-Cru-Kaefferkopf-2016

A Riesling hand-harvested from the complex terroir of the Grand Cru Kaefferkopf vineyard where the vines are old and the yield is very low. It was aged for 14 months in foudre and old barriques.

This eastern-facing vineyard which sits at about 300 metres above sea level is very famous and thoroughly deserves the Grand Cru status. The soils are derived from both granite and limestone which are responsible for the complex minerality found in wines made from these vines.

Geschickt has two Grand Cru parcels in Kaefferkopf. The first is le Purberg where the soil is limestone and clay and the second is le Pfulben which sees granite rocks protruding from fairly fine siltstone.

RRP: $66 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt AOC Alsace Grand Cru Kaefferkopf Maceration Gewürztraminer 2018

Geschickt-Maceration-GCKK

Gewürztraminer is an interesting grape that has become even more interesting with the advent of macerated (skin contact) wines. In the case of this grape variety we avoid the use of the term ‘orange’ as the macerated juice actually turns a bright pink!

The grape is related to Savagnin but not directly even though it is roughly translated as ‘spicy traminer) and the Traminer grape variety is the same as Savagnin. Savagnin has a mutated form called Savagnin Rose (many other white grapes have a Rose mutation) and Gewürztraminer is a variant of Savagnin Rose.

This an absolutely delicious wine which derives power and elegance from the complex limestone and granite soils in this magnificent Grand Cru vineyard.

It is highly unusual to see a Grand Cru wine that has undergone skin maceration in Alsace, but this one definitely shows the potential for such wines. It will last for a long time and will pair with a wide range of foods.

RRP: $76

Geschickt Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg 2018

As mentioned above, 2018 was a very dry year and hence the grapes from this famous vineyard were quite small with concentrated juice and there was a lack of natural yeast on the grapes.

The lack of available yeast on the grapes meant that it took a long time to ferment. But first it was macerated in the manner that Geschickt is adopting for all the white wines now.

The technique they are using is to macerate some of the juice on the skins for a short period of time to increase the phenolic content of the wine.

Half of the Riesling grapes were macerated for 30 days and the other half were directly pressed and the juice transferred to steel tanks. At the end of the thirty days of maceration the macerated juice was blended with the direct press juice. The wine was then matured for a further 12 months.

This is an amazing wine of power and concentration, which really shows off the place from which it was derived. The granitic soils of the Wineck-Schlossberg Grand Cru vineyard certainly deliver great wines!

RRP: $76 for 750ml

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Pinot Noir 2018

This beautiful Pinot Noir was made from grapes picked from their vineyards Soot and Hochstaden where the yields are very low. However, low yields often produce much better wines as fewer grapes are competing for the goodness being fed into the vines from the soil.

After a careful selection of grapes for ripeness the juice is macerated on skins for two weeks before pressing and then transfer to old wooden foudre and old barrels (barriques) where it matured for 14 months.

The wine is not fined or filtered. The bottle is closed with a DIAM closure and the alcohol level is a very balanced 14%

RRP: $49 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Pinot Noir K 2018

This Pinot Noir was made from 2 parcels with the Kaefferkopf Grand Cru vineyard. (Notice the “beetle” motif being used again as this is the translation of the vineyard name.)

The first parcel is granite and 50% of the grapes were harvested here and the rest of the grapes were harvested from the limestone area of the vineyard.

60% of the grapes were destemmed and 40% were left as whole bunches. They underwent 10 days of maceration to develop the colour of the wine.

The grapes were pressed together and then the juice was transferred to old Burgundy barrels to mature.

RRP: $76

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Grand Cru Kaefferkopf 2016

This beautiful wine combines three different grape varieties all of which were sourced from the Grand Cru Kaefferkopf vineyard. (Geschickt is fortunate to have a number of plots within the amazing Kaefferkopf vineyard.)

The grapes are Gewurztraminer (60%), Riesling (30%) and Pinot Gris (10%) all of which thrive on this highly regarded site.

This is an absolutely stunning wine which has gained complexity and tone from the five years it has been maturing.

It is interesting to note that this wine actually clocks in at a high 15% alcohol, however when drinking it there is not a hint of this level. It is just SO balanced.

At a recent tasting we were delighted to see that some very savvy wine drinkers thought exactly the same as us about this very special Grand Cru wine.

RRP: $66

Geschickt Grand Cru Kaefferkopf Khépri 2019

This is the first time that Geschickt has used an amphora to mature one of the wines – and an amazing feat it has been!

The grapes have come from the incredible terroir of the Kaefferkopf Grand Cru vineyard which sits just behind the village of Ammerschwihr. This Grand Cru is somewhat of an aberration in Alsace as all other Grand Crus are a single site whereas this one has three separate sites each on limestone and granite soils.

The other difference with this Grand Cru is that it is possible to make wines that are not single variety wines which is the case with this one.

The label above has a person holding a beetle of their face. This is because Kaefferkopf means beetle head.

The wine was matured in an amphora named after Khepri who was an Egyptian god. The grape varieties are Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The grapes underwent skin maceration for a massive 200 days until May 2020 and then after one month the juice was bottled.

RRP: $95 for 750ml

Geschickt Beetle Juice

This is a fascinating wine, both because it tastes fantastic and also because of the story behind the wine.

Geschickt is planting 70 trees per year (including a lot of fruit trees) within the vineyards to increase the biodiversity. This is to ensure that there is biodiversity in the vineyard.

We are currently writing an article for our newsletter explaining the importance of biodiversity in agriculture.

This is a skin contact Gewürztraminer that was macerated with 300 kilograms of large cherries growing in the vineyard of the Coeur de Pigeon variety. This worked out to be a fifty-fifty split between the cherries and the grapes.

The wine was matured in a steel tank and then bottled by hand early so that it would retain its freshness. It is 12% alcohol.

RRP: $66 (SOLD OUT)

Geschickt Vin d’Alsace Cadavre Exquis

Cadavre Exquis, of which we have a tiny quantity, is a solera which began in 2015 and has been added to each year since.

It is in an old 26 hectolitre foudre from which a proportion is taken off each year and replaced with a new vintage.

This first draw, bottled at the end of 2019 contains the vintages 2015 through to 2018.

The grapes are all the pinots (basically the same wine as Le Pino – Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Auxerrois – which grow in limestone and granite soils. Only 1300 bottles were made in this first tirage.

And what about the “exquisite corpse”? This derives from a game that was played by the French Surrealist artists of the late 1920s and early 1930s. One person would write down one word on a piece of paper, fold it over to hide the word then pass it to the next person to add another word.

The first sentence they formed was “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau” which in English reads as “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine”.

When the Geschickt family described how the wine was made to their artist friend STom500 (who also did the labels for Phenix, Le Pino their pet-nat) he immediately thought of the story of the surrealist game and said “Ah yes! like a cadavre exquis” (each vintage is a part of the work, without knowing what the next will make).

And so the wine was named. In keeping with its inspiration STom500 asked three of his Alsace artist friends to each draw part without consulting with each other and then joined them together to form the beautiful label.

At a recent tasting everyone was blown away by the complexity of the wine. It opened up slowly but soon revealed gorgeous oxidative notes, complex, lifted fruit and incredible length. This is an amazing wine, but we only have a tiny amount available!

RRP: $90 (SOLD OUT)