Loew

Alsace wine producer: Etienne Loew, Westhoffen

Etienne Loew belongs to the young generation of well educated oenologists in their 30s and low 40s that will give us very much bottled joy during the decades to come. Several in this group are portrayed on this website. Together this group represents several philosophies and styles. Many have an ecological approach. Etienne Loew works according to biodynamics, which he does not see as an extra burden, but as a method to increase the sustainability, resilience and resistance of the vineyard. And, of course, to get a better raw material for his excellent wines.

Etienne Loew works out of Westhoffen, in the very north of the vineyards of Alsace – La Couronne d'Or. Westhoffen is situated in surroundings shaped like in an amphitheater. The geography causes clouds carrying rain to take routes either north or south of the village. The area is warm and dry and the exact exposition of a vineyard is not decisive for the maturation of the grapes. In this area  you also see vegetable fields and orchards among the wines – it is beautiful!

However, the geology in and around Westhoffen is very complex. For example, several types of marl add to the diversity of the wines of Etienne Loew. Westhoffen has only a few producers, despite 230 ha of vineyards. Hence, most of the productions flows into the anonymity of the cooperatives and recoltants. In many of the neighboring villages (Balbronn, Bergbieten, Traenheim och Dangolsheim) the situation is the same.

After studying at the university and working in Oregon, Etienne Loew came back to take charge of the family firm in 1996, starting with only 0.72 hectares. Another 5 hectares were kept by his parents, delivering to the coop. From those 5.72 ha, the firm has grown to 11,5 hectares, thanks to purchases and renovation of inproductive land. Today, Etienne Loew has not a single wine that can be considered a standard product. All wines are very individual and form a collection of small masterpieces.

The Muscat from the "Green marles" is one of the best in Alsace, and perfect to vegetable based dishes. Think fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Etienne also has a week spot for Sylvaner, where old vines provide grapes to Sylvaner Verité, a wine that is firm as a boxers' fist.

Etienne Loew sells his wines quite young, the yields are kept low and the level of extract is high. Therefore, if you visit the domaine you must be aware that some wines presented may need a few years in the cellar to become fully integrated.

I visited Etienne Loew the first time in 2006 at a time when he sold his second vintage. On the surface, not much has changed. There are a few more cuvées, a new cellar, and an increased area of vineyards. But since then Domaine Loew has become one of the few producers in Alsace to earn two stars by La Revue du Vin de France. The success and the recognition is a result of a systematic quest for perfection in all aspects of a winegrower/winemakers work.

First visit: 2006
Second visit: 2008 –  Very, very good wines across all grape varieties at very attractive prices.
Latest visit: 2014 – Simply a privilege to visit, to taste and to buy.

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Facts

Key persons
Etienne Loew
Address
28, rue Birris.
Contact
+33 (0)388 50 59 19
+33 (0)975 67 02 85 (mobil)
+33 (0)681 58 08 01 (fax)
domaine.loew@orange.fr
Price range (2014)
Riesling Muschelkalck €8,80
Riesling Altenberg de Bergbieten €17
Style
Personal, full and complex wines including many surprises.
Reception
Serious, cheerful and generous. Perfect English.
Terroir
Grands crus: Altenberg de Bergbieten, Engelberg
Lieux-dits: Bruderbach, Cormier, Marienberg, Ostenberg, Suessenberg

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Selected representative wines 2014

Hidden Treasure
2013 Sylvaner Verité Restrained aromas of almond, melon and fresh herbs. Dry, powerful taste with refreshing salinity and a hint of hops that gives the wine structure and character.
Basic Riesling
2012 Riesling Bruderbach Clos des Frères Classic Riesling aromas of citrus, honey and ripe apples. Medium bodied, wonderfully balanced taste with mouthwatering acidity, and a dry balance where the mature fruit rests long on the palate.
Top Range Riesling
2012 Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim Fresh, restrained, complex aroma with fresh citrus, passionfruit and hints of smoke/mineral. Quite full, firm, spicy taste with a sense of sweetness and a marvelous refined acidity that provides a great backbone. Long and dry finish. A wine full of character but not as accessible as young as Riesling Bruderbach.
Do not overlook
2013 Muscat Marnes Vertes Pale yellowish. This model Muscat displays a grapy aroma, a whiff of mineral and some mint. Almost medium bodied taste with very pure and gentle fruit flavors, elegant acidity and perfect balance. One of the most attractive Muscats in Alsace. Develops additional complexity with cellaring.
Most Exciting Wine
2012 Gewurztraminer Ostenberg Generous aroma of cardamom, ginger, tropical fruits and Gertrud Jekyll English Roses. Rich, elegant citrus taste with superb acidity that balances a good deal of residual sugar. Just like velvet. A stunning wine from a vineyard that deserves a classification as Premier Cru.