Trim-Bach, Mozart & Dowland
Maison Trimbach is one of the most genuinely interesting and remarkable winery stories that you'll come across in France. Or Europe for that matter. Or perhaps the world, really.
Why? Well, they've been making really high quality wine in France for 13 generations, since at least the foundation of the house in 1626.
13 generations, 400 years.
Just to put that into context. Famous composer Bach hadn't been born yet, nor had Mozart, or his grandparents! And 1626 was also the year the Renaissance-Tudor English (or was he Irish?) composer John Dowland died. And it was only a few short years after the start of what was to become the American slave trade.
But back to wine, this was 85 years before the establishment of the first of the demarcated places of origin for wine growing and production in Europe - Chianti, Carmignano, Valdarno di Sopra and Pomino. It's quite amazing, that after all this time the Trimbach family still do what they did all those years ago. They've got greater legacy than many a royal family.
They are based in the town of Ribeauvillé, one of the oldest medieval towns in Alsace. Now, this is important because of the town's situation and relationship to the vineyard area that surrounds it.
In the four hundred odd years that have followed, they have grown a bit and now have farmland in six different villages, which means that they have the ability to blend and maintain a house style with greater ease and consistency than otherwise would allow.
It also means that they are able to produce higher volumes of the top single vineyard wines as the grapes from these places don't need to be shared around to beef-up other cuvées.
It's a clever plan but they still only own about 40 hectares in total, which is really quite meagre compared with other regions... but they are in long-term relationships with many other growers who, as they say, are "loyal to the Trimbach cause".
Soils & mountains
The soils in the region vary, as you might expect over six villages, but are a mixture of limestone, sandstone and marl, which give enough drainage and support to the needs of the vines.
The next important feature is the presence of the Vosges mountains to the West. These act as a rain barrier - remember how far north Alsace really is and it's pretty astonishing to realise that it is the second driest wine region in France.
Clouds move east across the French landscapes but break over the top of the mountains, leaving the vineyards in Alsace to be perfectly dry for much of the year.
Bottle in Spring
Trimbach make one decision that is really very much a winery one rather than a vineyard one, and that is to bottle their wines in the spring following the harvest - uniformly.
This certainly retains freshness, but it also prevents further aging impact from oak barrels or from grape skin contact.
It's a very considered move and the fact that the Trimbach wines are so varied and stunningly good year after year, shows just how right they get the decision and just how high the quality of the vineyards really is.