^ Jerome Poisson, Pfaff's vine & vineyard director, and the trophy-winning Riesling 2018 & Cuvée Ancestrum Gewurztraminer 2018
What a year it's been for Alsace's La Cave des Vignerons de Pfaffenheim
. Its 2020 medal haul includes everything from the innovative, award-winning 'Tie' blends to the more traditional, single-varietal wines - each made with 100% of a single grape variety. And, if the team thought that the highlight of the year would be taking home two trophies for both the Grand Cru Riesling 2018 and the Cuvée Ancestrum Gewurztraminer 2018, they must have pinched themselves when they found out they had been crowned IWSC White Wine Producer of the Year.
Founded in 1957, Pfaff, as it's become known, came about as a way for a handful of winegrowers to work more efficiently together, with the first bottlings launched in 1959. Today, the co-operative has close to 200 growers, and is one of the major players in the region, producing around 3 million bottles a year – with every single grape harvested by hand.
With a proven track record of delivering the kind of top quality single-varietal Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurtzraminer wines for which Alsace is renowned, Pfaff is also shaking things up by releasing a range of blends spanning the Silver medal-winning 2019 Blue Tie Pinot Gris/Muscat/Gewurztraminer. Next year's projects include a new raft of varietal wines: ‘1957 by Pfaff’; a three-strong oak-aged range; and a new Crémant for Pfaff’s La Griffe du Diable (‘Devil’s Claw’) brand.
We caught up with Jerome Poisson, Pfaff's vine and vineyard director, to find out more about his winemaking philosophy. Spoiler: the hard work begins in the vineyard.
How did you get into wine?
Like most French people, I love food and wine. I'm also very fond of nature, which is why I studied life sciences. I got into wine via an interest in plant biology and grapegrowing, as an agronomist. I then went on to study winemaking.
^ The upcoming '1957 by Pfaff' range
What is your winemaking philosophy?
I have a strong scientific and technical background, so my priority is to limit the amount of intervention in the winery. Ultimately, wine is there to be savoured, so my main objective is to make great wine. I believe that hard work in the vineyard goes a long way and minimises the work in the winery.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given and how did you use that in your winemaking?
You will never make a wine better than the grape it came from. We try to select the best vineyard blocks, keep them separate and respect the fruit as much as possible.
Who or what has been your most important influence and why?
My boss in Lapostolle winery, Jacques Begarie, for his passion for wine, his information gathering and his objective view of looking at the vineyard as a farmer would.
How can we best enjoy your wine?
Always in good company. Pfaff has a large portfolio which means there's a wine for every occasion. From a fruit forward, easy-drinking wine to share with an appetizer, to a very precise grand cru that shows all the complexity of our terroirs best paired with refined dishes.
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