Introducing Domaine Dirler-Cadé
In the vineyards at Dirler-Cade in Alsace
It’s official! We welcome the addition of Domaine Dirler-Cadé of Alsace to our French Portfolio. “When I was visiting the Domaine several weeks ago,” said TB, “my morning meeting ended up being lunch with the family.” And as we reflect upon the history of Dirler-Cadé, it is clear that family is at the foundation of this Domaine, in its founding, its expansion and in its conversion to Demeter/Biodynamic farming. “As life happens when merging families and concerns,” said TB, “she [Ludivine Dirler] very wisely, quietly and purposefully started directing the evolution of Dirler. The Demeter/Biodynamic piece was carefully woven in, and ten years later, the newly labeled Dirler-Cadé is light years ahead in finesse, elegance and depth with every wine tasted.”
In 1871, Jean Dirler settled in the tiny village of Bergholtz and founded Vins Dirler. Bergholtz and its 1,000 inhabitants are tucked up in the lower hills of the Vosges Mountains, 25km south of the city of Colmar in the Upper Rhine department of southern Alsace. Today the Domaine is run by the latest Jean Dirler, who represents the 5th generation, and his wife Ludivine who he married in 1998.
An important year at the Domaine, 1998 is when the family began the conversion of their vineyards to biodynamic viticulture as prescribed by Rudolf Steiner. Jean and his father began by converting the easier, lower slopes of vineyard (6ha) and continued in 1999 with converting the remaining 3ha, which are the steepest and narrowest and thus necessitated the use of horse and plough, still in use today.
In 2000 the Domaine increased in size as Dirler was joined by Ludivine’s familial vineyards, Domaine Hell-Cade, in nearby Guebwiller. The merger, now known as Dirler-Cade, brought the total vineyards planted to 18 hectares, and these new vineyards were added in stages so that they too could be properly converted to biodynamics. Completed in 2003, the process allowed Dirler-Cade to label their entire production as AB (Agriculture Biologique) and BIODYVIN (Bio-Dynamic), as of the 2007 vintage. Close to half of the Dirler-Cade vineyards (42%) are in the Grands Crus of Saering, Spiegel, Kessler and Kitterlé. In addition, the Domaine also has plantings in the 5 lieux-dits known as Belzbrunnen, Schwarzberg, Bux, Schimberg and Bollenberg.
Winemaking at the Domaine follows some simple guidelines because the Dirler-Cade philosophy follows the idea that wine is made in the vineyard. Since 1987 each parcel or group of parcels within a single vineyard has been whole cluster pressed with a pneumatic press into either large oak foudres or stainless steel tanks. The juice is then left to ferment for anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending upon the cuvée. The wine is aged on its fine lees for 9-12 months before a light filtration and bottling takes place. A tiny amount of sulfur is then added at this time.
“…[Domaine Dirler-Cade] remains one of the most frequently exciting – and generally consistent – sources of wine in Alsace, making it unfortunate that one doesn’t see Dirler-Cade wines more often in the U.S. Moreover, this is an estate that’s rendering highly distinctive; often deliciously unorthodox; but never fashion-pandering innovations while retaining a clear and constant vision of how the classic cepages of Alsace should perform in sites that can boast some of the longest – not to mention most-deserved – reputations of any in their region.” David Schildknecht