From Alsace's most southerly Grand Cru, grown on perilously steep volcanic soils at an elevation of 350-450 metres. This combination of factors makes Rangen de Thann a later-ripening site with a long growing season. The volcanic soils give the wines of Clos St Urbain a distinctive flinty, smoky aroma, with a saline ripple and twist of fresh lime on the palate. This is a complex wine is deep and flavourful, with many layers waiting to unfurl over time.
The 2015 Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain opens pure, deep and cool; it is very fresh and stony, as if a giant had crushed lava! On the palate this is a silky textured, yet firmly structured wine that shows fine tannins rather than acidity. The latter plays the first fiddle only in the finish, which is salty, pure and finessed, provided with great tension and an endless flow of wet stones. It is, perhaps, less dramatic than the Brand, but even more balanced and elegant at this early moment. So pure and vital!
On the Eastern border of France lying between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine river, this much-disputed area has for a large part of its existence been in the hands of Germany. This is visually apparent in the half-timbered houses lining the streets in medieval-looking villages and vinously evident in the prevalence of white wine in the region. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat make up the majority of plantings and are the only varieties permitted in the Alsace Grand Cru appellation. Pinot Noir (the only significant black grape variety), Pinot Blanc, Chasselas and Sylvaner also get a look in. Wines are made in all styles from sparkling and dry to the most unctuously sweet botrytised pudding wines.