There are 6 reasons to visit Alsace, or rather 7.
France’s most picturesque wine route located on the sides of the Vosges Mountains and offers beautiful vineyards and villages with unique architecture. Flavours and colors, appellations, soil and sunshine and more than 900 cellars are ready to welcome you. The Alsatian wine route provides the opportunity to feel the authentic atmosphere of winemaking and taste outstanding AOC wines, AOC Cremant as well as AOC Grand Cru. Τhe seventh reason to visit Alsace is the recently renovated Maison Joseph Cattin. The classic artwork of the winery so far is ruined when you park outside a building out of the future. Smooth lines, minimal architecture, impressive show room and a rooftop view from Belvedere, enjoying the stunning view of Alsatian nature. Maison Joseph Cattin, is an independent and family-owned winery united for 300 years, (1720), has been dedicating to develop the originality of the soils to the richness of the grape varieties in order to give birth to a noble and elegant collection of Alsace wines. The best period to visit Alsace, is in summer. Here is hot but very green, people can enjoy many outdoor activities such as cycling in the vineyards, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lakes. We visited during the summer of 2018 in Voegtlinshoffen, where Jacques and Anais Cattin offered us a genuine French hospitality.
How did you get started in the wine business and have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?
I was born in it, my father was a winemaker and I’m today the 12th generation of winemakers in our family! However I decided to study wine and food engineering to look at a broader picture. I’m a real epicurean, and I’ve always been interested in the gastronomy. I even interned in a cheese farm to produce my own cheese. I eventually chose winemaking but I was very curious about the differences in terms of process in the various regions of the world so I decided to go to the USA for 1 vintage, I worked at Schug Estate in Sonoma, California; I also worked in another estate in Cahors and I spent half a year studying winemaking in Austria. I chose to use this experience when I came back home in the family winery.
What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker?
My greatest achievement as a winemaker was to produce a Pinot Noir from a very specific terroir in South of Alsace in Steinbach. The soil there is made of sandstone and is very red in color due to high concentration of iron.
This plot was famous for its Pinot Noir in the past, before WW1, but then was forgotten. When I decided to make Pinot Noir again I was convinced that this particular soil would give the best pinot noir in our range. In 2009 we got a unique level of concentration and I adapted the winemaking accordingly. Three years later our first client was L’Auberge de L’ill, the only 3 Michelin star restaurant in Alsace. This was for me and the whole team a great sense of achievement.
What is your winemaking style?
I think wine brings joy. It’s meant to be shared and it’s here to combine perfectly with food for a pure moment of pleasure. Therefore I want my wines to be enjoyable. Some can be enjoyed young, some other are released after several years of ageing in our cellars.
All of our wines are aromatic. The younger are more dry and crisp. If fruity there are always balanced with a nice acidity. Our terroir driven wines are only released when they are ready to be served. We can keep our wines for several years in our cellar before release.
What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your wines different to others in this area?
“I don’t really believe in secrets I just try to produce wines that echoe our values and our strongest family value is conviviality. So I’m always thinking of people sharing our wines around a big table and that’s what inspires me.”
Does one year or one vintage come to mind when you think about one of the best Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris or another local variety that you’ve made?
Sure 2009 was exceptional for the Pinot Noir, 2010 a great vintage for a Cremant that is still ageing in our cellars! 2013 was excellent for our Riesling and we look forward to 2018 as we expect a great vintage with excellent maturity!
What is the most difficult thing in making wine.
Your work also depends on elements you (hopefully) cannot manage, such as Nature. So sometimes you’ve got high expectations and you then you get hailed and everything is ruined… however this is also the nicest part as well to work with Nature.
What distinguishes have Alsatian wines from others in the world?
Alsace is a really special place: a small wine growing region which counts many different terroirs. Each will produce a different style of wine. This is unique in the whole world. Our vineyard and therefore our wine range is the right example of this pallet of styles.
Tell us a story behind a label.
I chose with our Cremant ICE CATTIN, very different from all of our other wines. This Cremant bottle is covered by a sleeve – all white – which has been designed by Missy, a street artist from Alsace. This decoration illustrates the concept behind this Cremant : enjoy life and its pleasures.
This is a Cremant demi sec (so sweeter than our other Cremants) which I decided to make for customers who’d like to enjoy this wine anytime in the day or at night, with or without food. In France we speak of “Consommation décomplexée” which would translate as “a way of consuming you should not be ashamed of. So it’s a celebration of Life.