Tucked in between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine river in the north-east of France, Alsace was for a long time part of Germany and the tall green tapered bottles, the dominance of Riesling and aromatic whites reflect this.
With more than 20 harvests of experience, Christian Binner farms 3 grand crus vineyards, a couple of lieux-dits (premier crus), working with old vines, and makes around 20 different cuvées.
The history of the Domaine goes back to 1770, with even older vines - grand Cru Kaefferkopf dates back to 1328 - being a polyculture farm first and focusing solely on wine from the 1940s with Christian’s father. When the ‘green revolution’ hit and many growers started using chemicals, he kept farming organically and when Christian took over in 2000, he pushed the envelope even more, leading the way with biodynamic viticulture. Nowadays the Domaine is run by Audrey and Christian Binner and consists of 8 hectares
10 hectares in the village of Ammerschwihr
Mainly Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Pinot Noir
Granite, pebbles, sand, mica-schist, loess, limestone
The grapes come only from their own harvest and are harvested over-ripe, well after the traditional harvest. The vinification follows a route without oenological input: the transformation of their grape juice into wine is done in a “natural” way, in their new bioclimatic cellar since 2014.
Grapes grown in a natural way require quality storage conditions with a cellar at less than 14°C, humid, without temperature variations, vibration or electromagnetic fields.
- Binner started Les Vins Pirouettes in 2015 – a small collaborative project with other organic and biodynamic growers in the Alsace region. It's resulted in a uber-successful brand that's highly sought after.
- Binner's family have been farming since 1770 in the village of Ammerschwihr. It firstly was in polyculture, and then full-on wine growing since WWII. Christian Binner took over the domaine in 1999.
- The vines on the domain were planted by Christian's grandfather, making the average age of the vines to be more than 30 years old.
"This [natural winemaking] is the form of viticulture that respects humanity the most, as well as one's health and that of our planet." - Christian Binner
DOMAINE CHRISTIAN BINNER'S LOCATION
Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wine. What’s the difference?
To understand this concept and its various ramifications, it is necessary to keep something clear in mind: before the 20th century and the spreading of affordable synthetic fertilisers, all farming was organic. When the shift to the use of synthetics and pesticides happened, it became necessary to diversify traditional organic farming from the new modern farming.
Simply put, organic farming forbids the use of synthetic fertilisers, synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms. The basic requirements are generally specific and engage the farmers not to use any chemical fertilisers and other synthetic products in the vineyard. It does not prevent the vintner from using the conventional winemaking process after harvesting.
Let’s take organic farming one step further: Biodynamic. The creator of this agricultural system is the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who developed the principles of biodynamics in a series of lectures given in 1924 in Germany. Here lies the foundation of true organic wines, with a strict limit in the use of additives, stringent requirements and at the end obtaining a biodynamic certification.
The previous definitions are usually, and rightfully, associated with it, because most natural wine is also organic and/or biodynamic. But not vice versa!
Natural wine is wine in its purest form, simply described as nothing added, nothing taken away, just grapes fermented. No manipulation whatsoever, minimal intervention both in the vineyards and in the winery. Healthy grapes, natural yeast and natural fermentation, with no filtration nor fining. Sounds easy, right? However, making natural wine is unforgiving and it requires a bigger amount of work than conventional wine. To this day, natural wine has no certification yet.