Alsace villages to visit: Bennwihr, Haut-Rhin



Alsace Map

6 km north-west of Colmar.
Vineyard area
280 ha
Grand cru
Rebgarten, Vogelgarten
Link to more information
Alsace-route-des-vins  Andlau

Bennwihr dates back to the 8th century. The location is natural for a village of importance, overlooking the plain from the rim of superb vineyards. But in 1944-45, Bennwihr shared the fate of the twin town Mittelwihr, it was wiped out from the surface of the Earth during the battle of the Colmar pocket.

After the war, the vineyards were replanted. However, in the absence of a strong personality backed by a fortune, the growers decided to work together in the local cooperative.

Today, the coop is known as Bestheim. It was formed as a merger between the coops of Bennwihr and Westhalten, 20 kilometers south of Bennwihr. Bestheim is very successful on the export market, with a strong position in countries such as Sweden. It is not obvious that this does the Swedes any good.

Bestheim vinifies 80% of the grapes grown on Grand Cru Marckrain, so it is interesting that several new growers have started to produce splendid wines from this neglected Grand Cru.

Certainly, Marckrain is misunderstood. However, in the hands of fantastic growers such as Fabien Stirn of Domain Stirn in Sigolsheim, Michel Fonné of Barth René and Laurent Barth in Bennwihr, Marckrain can look forward to a renaissance.

Marcel Deiss of Bergheim is also present in Bennwihr, making a light and pleasent Riesling.

Producers to visit

Barth René (Michel Fonné), 24 rue général de Gaulle, +33 (0)389 47 92 69
Michel Fonné is a well educated oenologist who took over the winemaking from his uncle RenéBarth 1989, starting his own company in 1997. In 2001, the last grapes were shipped to the coop. Michel Fonné has invested € 380 000 in a new winery and builds a business with emphasis on the export market. The wines are very, very good. A great Pinot Blanc, an award-winning Riesling Rebgarten and a seducive Muscat Marckrain are just tree examples of a very promising product line.
Laurent Barth, 24 rue du Maréchal De Lattre, +33 (0)389 47 96 06
Laurent Barth is newly established producer on 3.5 ha on vineyards including Marckrain and Rebgarten. The domain dates from 1999, before then Laurent Barths family delivered to the coop. The production is (2005) only 11 000 bottles per year. You need to call in advance if you plan a visit.