The Munster valley is famous for the Munster cheese. This pungent cheese is sold from small dairies here and in the valley of river Weiss. The Munster valley hosts storks that search or frogs in the fields, and at the end of the Valley starts the serpentine road that leads to the ski resorts of Col de Schlucht.
The only grower with a reputation in the Valley is Schoenheitz, a family domaine in Wihr-au-Val. Until 1940, Wihr-au-Val was a medieval town as charming as Riquewihr, but the town was destroyed by the intruders as retaliation for the local French resistance.
Henri and Dominique Schoenheitz make dry, focused wines with pronounced minerality. The vineyards are situated on granite slopes, facing due south. A couple of miles further down the valley, the hillsides become Grand Cru Brand.
The family has three Lieux-dits, Herrenreben, Holder and Linsenberg. Herrenreben (sandy soil) is best for Riesling and Pinot Noir, Holder (clayey soil) is best for Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, while Linsenberg (gravelly soil) hosts Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer.
The Rieslings, wich account for over 30% of the area, keep very well and the three Lieux-dits all have different virtues.
The vineyards are on the very limit of the viticultural area, and the microclimate is relatively cold. Hence, the Pinot Blanc made from Auxerrois is particularly successful. Here, Auxerrois is generous and spicy but keeps the freshness that can easily be lost.
Henri Schoenheitz makes very good Pinot Noir from Herrenreben and Linsenberg. The élevage is very careful and involves ageing in classic barriques. All in all, Henri thinks Pinot Noir is very fun to work with, since making of red wines leaves much to the winemaker. The Crémant of Schoenheitz is also very successful and is highly recommended.
If you call in advance you may get a guided tour through the vineyards. Do not fail to visit this quality conscious producer in the "back-of-beyond"!
Latest visit: 2006