Grand Cru

Praelatenberg

Kintzheim

The panoramic viewpoints from the majestic Haut-Koenigsbourg castle overlook the sharp slopes of Praelatenberg. This rich terroir produces generous and structured wines founded on a base of intense minerality.

  • Soil type Granite-gneissic
  • Surface area in hectares 18,70
  • Exposure East, South-East
  • Village Kintzheim
  • Altitude 250 to 350 metres
  • Grape varieties (in % per variety)
    • Riesling 43%
    • Gewurztraminer 42%
    • Pinot Gris 11%
    • Muscat 4%
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Grand Cru Praelatenberg

The wines

Praelatenberg wines are sensual, balanced with elegant minerality and astonishing consistence.

The terroir-tie

Wine specificities

Praelatenberg stands out by the combination of its microclimate and the terroir gneiss content. The latter provides wines with crystalline and elegant minerality, regardless the grape variety. However, this minerality particularly marks Riesling whereas Gewurztraminer presents spicy notes and Pinot Gris a great freshness. Praelatenberg appears like a balanced and consistent wine, barely affected by the impact of vintage years. It really unravels its personality after two years in the bottle.

The rich terroir produces generous and full-bodied wines.

La matière noble et concentrée des vins est marquante. The noble and concentrated matter of these wines is striking. The generous acidity is central on the palate.

Coated by the wine substance, it gives an exquisite sensation. A length characterised by its intensity and noble bitter touches, the base of intense «gunpowder» minerality.

Les Riesling trouvent ici leur équilibre grâce à la tension naturelle du terroir, qui renforce leur caractère élancé. Gewurztraminer vigorously allows its spicy character to explode. They evoke coriander and almonds. Exotic fruity aromas and dried herbs often appear with Praelatenberg wines.

Romain Ilitis
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)

Choose and serve

Vintage years

Even young, the concentration of these wines makes them very pleasant to drink. But after four or even six years of ageing, the wine minerality of this Grand Cru is refined and truly asserts itself.

Millésimes Précoces : la richesse en sucre marque les vins. But they keep an extraordinary balance, filling the mouth with succulence. Honey-like notes finish off this aromatic spectrum.

Millésimes Tardifs : l’acidité donne plus de relief aux vins, qui demeurent larges et charnus. The fresh fruit sensation is mesmerising. The wines are lingering and more vivacious.

Romain Ilitis
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)

Wine and food pairing

Praelatenberg wines fill the mouth with pleasure and even pair with game. For example, fillet of wild boar, roasted deer or terrines are all winning gourmet matches. The fruits or spicy sauces which generally accompany these preparations produce a unison which could surprise even the most discriminating connoisseurs. Poultry, roasted or in sauce, will pair perfectly with this wine once it has aged a little when its fruity flavour has settled. Minerality will then play its role of aromatic detonator.

Romain Ilitis
Best Sommelier of France, 2012 and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, 2015 (in the Sommelier category)

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Grand Cru Praelatenberg

The terroir

The nature

Gneiss, quartz and mica make this terroir sensitive to light and heat. These components give the soil a light character which bestows fantastic aromatic transparency and crystalline harmony to these wines.

Location

To the west of Sélestat, the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle stands out like a bastion protecting the vineyards which are terraced down on the slopes of the sub-Vosges hills.

At the foot of this imposing edifice, thePraelatenberg Grand Cru wonderfully symbolises the terroirs and men of the Alsace wine-growing area.

This cru is at the geographical centre of Alsace, marking the southern boundary with the Bas-Rhin department. Here the Vosges and Rhineland faults intermingle. The sub-Vosges hills are absent and the Vosges mountain range is directly in contact with the Alsace plain.

Soil

The metamorphic parent rock (gneiss) produces a brown acid soil full of pebbles. Further down, the friable crystalline components develops into very deep sandy-clayey loam. The useful water reserve of these soils is very good (140 to 160mm).

This light and pebbly substrate greatly helps with the rooting.

3>Microclimate

The south-east exposure and steep slopes stimulate the excellent sunshine which prevails. The eastern horizon is perfectly open with the Rhineland plain which spreads out at its foot. The altitude is between 250 and 350m and the nearby presence of the forest makes it a late-ripening terroir. The dominating west winds lose their humidity on the western side of the Vosges, appearing in Alsace transformed into a foehn, a dry and warm air.

The rainfall is particularly low here with about 600 mm in the year.

Grape varieties

The late-ripening nature of this Grand Cru makes it a particularly favourable terroir for great physiological ripening which is so essential for Riesling.

Despite a highly sun-filled topography due to the slopes, soil composition and cru exposure, the grape evolution is slow and harvests often late.

The people

Prelate’s hill (Praelatenberg) attests to monastic work accomplished on this terroir over a thousand years ago. But this site was also known and cultivated by the Romans. Thanks to the tenacity of wine-makers today, the depth and affluence of this local viticultural tradition is perpetuated.

Heritage transmission

It’s a fact that Romans introduced vineyards in Alsace at the beginning of our era: they needed enormous quantities of wine for their armies. The local terroir attests to this culture by the presence of a Roman military post (Zollstoeckel).

With the donation of Charlemagne to his chaplain Fulrad in 774, it delimited this donation from Steinbach to Eckenbach under the name of Andaldovillare.

The Praelatenberg Grand Cru, or its translation Prelate’s hill, pays tribute to the monk-winemakers who cultivated its granite and gneiss hillsides over a thousand year ago. The Ebersmunster abbey farmed it as of 823. Later, it was coveted by the various lordships who sought protection behind the ramparts of Haut-Koenigsbourg. The latter’s destiny led it to be attached to the town of Sélestat which sold it to the town inhabitants after the French Revolution.

In 1930, Prelate’s hill was abandoned. When the difficulties hit the Alsace wine-making trade, the Sélestat industrialists neglected the unproductive craggy terroirs and turned towards more profitable income sources. As the historian Antoine Dauger remarked, «They didn’t have the spirituality of monks». At this time, Praelantenberg was just an immense wasteland where the natural resources were left forgotten.

> But as of 1960, Orschwiller wine-makers finally decided to change things radically and vine stock by vine stock they rebuilt this historic vineyard. Thanks to the tenacity of a new wine-maker generation, Praelatenberg was classed as a Grand Cru in 1992.

Beloved vineyards and land

Specific rules

On the steep Praelatenberg slopes, cultivation practices highly respect the environment.

Here grass cover is very common: it allows a certain biodiversity to be maintained and limits the erosion of steep slopes characteristic of this cru. Tillage work is favoured to allow indigenous flowers to appear. Thanks to the friable nature of the soil, rooting happens quickly and stimulates the terroir expression as of the fifth leaf.

To boost terroir expression as well as the wine quality, Praelatenberg wine-makers respect the specifications book for the Alsace Grand Cru appellation, imposing additional objectives: raise the minimum degree up to 0.5 point and forbid chaptalisation.