Why Albert Mann is Essential
Alsace is rightly famous for its Riesling, but it is possible that a good chunk of its future lies is Pinot Noir. Climate change has made Alsace more and more suitable for the grape, and a perfect storm in Burgundy of high demand and devastatingly low yields have forced wine connoisseurs to look beyond the Côte d'Or — but still in France — for their favorite red wine.
Alsace is poised, and at the moment, I believe Albert Mann is making the region's best versions. Structured yet elegant, nuanced yet forthcoming, these wines are simply gorgeous: as a wine professional, I didn't know whether I should analyze them and pick their details apart, or just excuse myself with a glass and go sit under a tree. The Pinot Noir alone would earn the domaine a spot on this list, but the Riesling is highly compelling, too, with a sense of clarity and integrity that — again, as someone on the hunt for great bottles — made me want to quit searching so hard.
Lead by brothers Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé, this biodynamic winery is one of two impressive wineries in the tiny town of Wettolsheim, with Barmès-Buecher being the other. If you are arriving in Alsace, go to Wettolsheim first and taste from these two. You'll be up-to-speed on all-things-Alsatian in no time.
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris
Appellations/Cru: Alsace AOC + Grand Cru Hengst, Grand Cru Schlossberg, Grand Cru Steingrubler
American Importer: Weygand-Metzler
Originally listed: August 2018
Renewed: September 2020
Wines to Seek Out
As noted, Albert Mann's reputation is staked to Pinot Noir, but the white wines — particularly a very fine Gewurztraminer — warrant close attention. This is an estate with ample holdings in some of Alsace's most notable Grand Cru.
Albert Mann Grand Cru Schlossberg Alsace Riesling
Hailing from one of Alsace's most esteemed vineyards, this Riesling deals a royal flush of crisp apple, lime peel, custard and white flower-like tones with a mineral edge serving as the ace. Richer, more amplified and dramatic than Albert Mann's other Riesling, it could last for 20-plus years in the cellar with great ease.
Albert Mann Grand H Alsace Pinot Noir
Since Alsatian Pinot Noir cannot yet claim Grand Cru status, you often see a lot of letters on the label — a "cheat code" for the wine's vineyard of origin. In this case, the H refers to the Grand Cru Hengst, the "stallion" of vineyards where the Barthelmé brothers have a cherished plot of Pinot Noir that yields a savory, spicy and juicy wine with tremendous length.
Albert Mann Grand P Alsace Pinot Noir
The P here refers to the Grand Cru Pfersigberg — again, a work-around from the local wine laws. This Pinot Noir offers a more elegant counter to the muscular Grand H, detailing black-tone fruit and violets with a leading edge of minerality for an additional shot of energy through the mid-palate.
Albert Mann Les Saintes Claire Alsace Pinot Noir
Encountering a handful of great Pinot Noir is one thing, but this wine convinced me that Alsace really has the goods to be a future star for the grape. That's because as this luscious Pinot Noir ages — reaching the eight- to 10-year mark — it transitions into a more complex yet still ever-generous version of itself. There is a noticeably darker tenor here, conjuring memories of espresso and black plums. If you like your Pinot Noir to have savoriness, then this is a wine to seek out.
Albert Mann Grand Cru Furstentum Gewurztraminer
Last tasted with 13 years of age on it, Albert Mann's Gewurztraminer from the Grand Cru Furstentum swaddles the palate in a blanket of floral, honeyed, tea-like tones. It is quite possibly the best Gewurztraminer I've ever encountered.