Domaine Pierre Frick is a Biodynamic estate winery in Pfaffenheim in the Haut-Rhin region of Alsace in France. In 1968 Pierre Frick handed the domaine (an EARL) over to his son Jean-Pierre and his wife Chantal (their own son is called Thomas), who became the twelfth generation of the same family to run it. Under Jean-Pierre and Chantal Frick the estate went organic in 1970, switching to Biodynamics in 1980 (see below), making it one of Alsace’s pioneering organic-Biodynamic wine estates along with fellow organic Alsace growers Domaine Eugène Meyer and Henri Bannwarth. In 1985 it became one of three French wine estates to gain official recognition as ‘AB‘ or Agriculture Biologique or organic (Nicolas Joly and fellow Alsace grower Eugène Meyer being the others). It is also one of the world’s most quietly influential wineries in the natural wine scene, wines with no added sulfites having been made here since the late 2000s.
When Jean-Pierre and Chantal went organic in 1970, mowing rather than ploughing weeds and only occasionally sub-soiling, when a blade cuts just under the sward, but does not turn over the soil so each soil layer stays in its rightful place. From 1970-1980 they also adopted the the Lemaire-Boucher method. However, Jean-Pierre Frick says this method’s reliance on calcareous algae (lithotham) was inappropriate for his particular soils whose pH was 8 or higher (meaning already strongly alkaline, being mostly on limestone). ‘The vines did not reach the balance we wanted and remained very sensitive to pests and diseases,’ he says and the switch to Biodynamics was made in 1981. Light ploughing was readopted in spring to allow vegetation to grow between the rows until the following spring. From 1999 machinery which rotated or turned the soil in any was was abandoned, to preserve the soil structure.
Jean-Pierre Frick: ‘Initially Frick comes across as quite an austere character but this is shyness, rather than caprice. He is a very modest man, but is regarded with great reverence by his Alsace peers, partly for being a something of a figurehead in the Biodynamic movement in that unlike some of the more traditional Alsace Biodynamicists “he never closes his door and will always be ready to help”. Frick also shows a willingness to push boundaries with his wines, whether this be stylistic (he has made a noble rot affected Pinot Noir red called L’Insolite, a near impossibility and Vendanges Tardives Sylvaner when such a grape is usually first picked and first forgotten) or technical, with increasingly successful unsulfited wines. His facial features are not disimilar to those of Rudolf Steiner’s, with large ears, deep eyes and a thin nose with a pronounced, round tip.’ (Monty Waldin, 2004, p.129-131).
Certification: 1970 First vintage with full organic certification. | 1981 First vintage with full Demeter Biodynamic certification. | 1985 One of three French wine estates to gain official recognition as ‘AB‘ or Agriculture Biologique from the French state (Nicolas Joly and fellow Alsace grower Eugène Meyer being the others).
Grands Crus: Eichberg in Eguisheim. | Steinert in Pfaffenheim. | Vorbourg in Rouffach.
Site specific terroirs: Bergweingarten in Pfaffenheim. | Bihl. | Grosstein. | Krottenfues in Rouffach. | Lerchenberg. | Rot-Mürlé. | Strangenberg.
Crémant d’Alsace AOC:
Crémant d’Alsace AOC Rosé:
Chasselas: 2005 Cuvée Classique From three plots on mainly sandstone marl (marno-gréseuse). | 2009 Zero Sulphites Ajoutés No added sulfites. Lovely punchy weight and oxidation (Natural Wine Fair 2011).
Alsace AOC Gewurztraminer: 1997 Cuvée Précieuse 13.9% alcohol, RS 22.5g/l.
Alsace Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles: | 1990 13.2% alcohol, TA 4.3g/l, RS 84g/l.
Alsace AOC Muscat
Alsace AOC Pinot Blanc:
Alsace AOC Pinot Gris: 2014 Pinot Gris Sans Soufre This had originally been destined for Crémant, so the juice had been settled leaving few nutrients, thus a slow ferment. Full MLF. Very nice texture and savoury flavours, really very good (Real Wine Fair 2016).
Alsace AOC Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles:
Alsace AOC Pinot noir
Alsace AOC Riesling
Alsace AOC Sylvaner: 1998 Clean, easy, earthy, dry (Millésime Bio January 2004). | 2000 Cuvée Precieuse.
Site specific wines
Bergweingarten, Sylvaner: From the Bergweingarten lieu-dit in Pfaffenheim. | 1995 5,200 bottles. | 1997 13.8% alcohol. TA 4.7g/l. | 2001 Picked 21/10/2001. 13.5% alcohol. 37g/l residual sugar. Lovely firm fruit at Millésime Bio January 2004.
Bergweingarten, Sylvaner Perles Noirs: 2001 Made from 100% noble rot grapes. 12.0% alcohol. 195g/l residual sugar. Clarity and freshness at Millésime Bio January 2004.
Bihl, Riesling | 1997 13.1% alcohol, TA 6.9g/l, RS 4.1g/l.
Bihl, Sylvaner | 1996 13.0% alcohol. TA 7.5g/l. 9.3g/l residual sugar. | 1997 12.8% alcohol. TA 5.3g/l. 7.4g/l residual sugar. | 1998 11.5% alcohol. TA 5.3g/l. 2.5g/l residual sugar. | 2001 Nice cream, bitter twist, crisp and well made at Millésime Bio January 2004.
Rot-Mürlé: From brown-coloured ferruginous calcareous soil over a hard limestone slab, on a rise in the land near the plain (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p.183).
Rot-Mürlé, Pinot Gris: 2003 14.2% alcohol, 11g/l residual sugar. Lees aged. Rich, earthy, spicey, pepper, still too young (Millésime Bio 2004).
Rot-Mürlé, Pinot noir: 1997 Sourced from 0.6-ha in conversion and labelled ‘en conversion’. 13.7% alcohol, 1.3 g/l residual sugar. 3,200 bottles. 2001 Fermented in foudre. Dense (Millésime Bio 2004). | 2002 Vinifié Sans SO2 No added sulfites. | 2012 Sans Soufre From two blocks averaging 35 years old. Nice tannin, wild, a very good exampe of a no added sulfites wine (Real Wine Fair 2016). | 2010 ‘From 100-year-old Pinot Noir,’ (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p183). | 2015 Crunchy, good texture (Real Wine Fair 2017).
Rot-Mürlé, Riesling: 1996 12.4% alcohol, TA 9.0g/l, RS 21.5g/l.
Alsace Grand Cru wines
Eichberg Grand Cru, Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives: 1996 13.8% alcohol, 34g/l residual sugar. | 1997 14.4% alcohol, 28g/l residual sugar.
Steinert Grand Cru, Gewurztraminer: From 0.62ha. Planted 1978 on SO4 and 34EM.| 1996 3,300 bottles. | 1998 13.5% alcohol, TA 4.8g/l, RS 25g/l. Restrained style, in keeping with most of the Frick wines. / 2001 16g/l residual sugar. Soft cream pineapple and terroir (Millésime Bio 2004).
Steinert Grand Cru, Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives: 1997 15.1% (14.9?) alcohol. TA 4.50g/l, RS 30.0g/l.
Steinert Grand Cru, Muscat: 1995 From 0.20 hectares (0.49 acres). 1,700 bottles.
Steinert Grand Cru, Riesling: 2002 From 0.5ha on two plots, planted in 1973 and 1978 on 34EM and 5BB. Jean-Pierre Frick fermented this one year as wanted it to go to dryness. Bottled Nov 2003. Lovely zip, elegant, bodied Riesling, can feel a warm site with a cool soil ( Millésime Bio 2004).
Vorbourg Grand Cru, Pinot Gris Maceration: 2015 Reddish colour from skin contact, savoury (Real Wine Fair 2017).
Vorbourg Grand Cru, Riesling: 2007 Nice mineral, acetaldehyde, interesting (Natural Wine Fair 2011). | 2012 Very nice citrus (Real Wine Fair 2016).
Vorbourg Grand Cru, Riesling Vendanges Tardives | 2000 Coffee and hazelnut plus great acidity.
Domaine Pierre Frick & Fils
5 rue de Baer
F-68250 Pfaffenheim (Haut-Rhin), France
Tel+33 (0)184.108.40.206.99 / www.pierrefrick.com | Directions On the RN 83 (Route Nationale), 6.2 miles (10 km) south of Colmar (vehicular entrance to the domaine is via 9, rue du Fossé).
Monty Waldin (‘Biodynamic Wines’, 2004), p.129-131.
Natural Wine Fair 2011, Borough Market, London 15-17 May.
Real Wine Fair 2016, Tobacco Dock, London 17-18th April.
Real Wine Fair 2017, Tobacco Dock, London 7-8th May.