Jean-Marie Bechtold is a dynamic and very energetic person who carefully tends ca 12 hectares of vineyards in and around Dahlenheim. Dahlenheim is within Couronne d'Or, The Golden Circle, which is a name used to promote the wines and the villages situated only a few tenths of kilometers west of Strasbourg.
The heart in the production of Bechtold is the Grand Cru Engelberg. This splendidly located Grand Cru is situated high above Mossig, a small river which has given name to the regional but apparently redundant denomination Côte de Mossig. Engelberg is a hill of jurassic limestone with some marl. This vineyard of 14,2 ha is very good for Riesling but Pinot Gris is also very, very successful.
In addition to Engelberg, Bechtold actively develops three interesting Lieux-dits; Obere Hund, Silberberg and Sussenberg. Furthermore, Bechtold has recently aquired land for Pinot Noir on the northernmost of the Grands Crus of Alsace, Steinklotz in Marlenheim. One should expect that the mere presence of a vigneron of the caliber of Bechtold on Steinklotz will revitalize this historic Grand Cru.
Jean-Marie Bechtold has a profound ambition to run his domaine in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. For several years, the use of chemicals have been minimized while the biodiversity in the vineyards has been given high priority. Bechtold is now in the process of formally adopting biodynamic viticulture.
But Jean-Marie Bechtold has interests outside of vines and wines. In the large barn-like building at the domaine in Dahlenheim, the wooden structure of a complete half-timbered house lays waiting to be erected. At present Bechtold is making up the plans for recreation of the cultural treasure from the 18th century.
The wines of Jean-Marie Bechtold differ, in a positive manner, from the main stream in Alsace. The style is light, pure and elegant. The wines have a silky structure without being soft, and they are complex without being rich or powerful. A comparison could be that the wines of Bechtolds wines are more similar to a St Emilion than a Pomerol, or to a Musigny rather than a Chambertin.
It is a pity that Dahlenheim, with Jean-Marie Bechtold and other very good producers, is located off the official Route des Vins d'Alsace and thus sadly unknown to the international public. But you should now know better and find your way there, because it only takes a short detour to discover the excellent wines of Jean-Marie Bechtold.
Latest visit: 2008