Maison Beyer vineyard
Eguisheim and its Châteaux
Standing proudly side by side on a wooded crest, "three châteaux", a trio of quadrangular keeps named Weckmund, Wahlenbourg and Dagsbourg - a light, visible for miles, from Eguisheim to Husseren.
Eguisheim is a spectacular wine-producing town, arranged in concentric circles - its circular streets following the traces of three ancient lines of ramparts. The past is deeply rooted here, around the remains of a château, once the cradle of the powerful Dabo-Eguisheim family, the same line that gave birth to Bruno d'Eguisheim, elected pope in 1049 under the name Léon IV and later canonised. The city of the Counts of Eguisheim, which passed into the hands of the Bishop of Strasbourg in the 13th century, had always been at the centre of a flourishing vineyards, as several tithe-collectors' courtyards bear witness. Once the property of the Augustinians of Marbach, the Benedictines of Ebersmunster, the Cistercians of Paris and the Dominicans of Colmar, the buildings still stand today.
present day vineyard, one of the most extensive in all of Alsace, with
its more than 300 hectares, is shared between multiple independent estates
and the omnipresent Eguisheim wine cooperative, the zone of influence
of which greatly exceeds the local area. It brings together two grand
crus: Eichberg and Pfersigberg, of a very considerable area. Each year;
at the end of March, Eguisheim hosts the first presentation of the latest
Alsace wine vintage.
At a crossroads, a little way out of the village, the Léon BEYER firm are quietly perpetuating the time-honoured tradition of great classic Alsace wines. The family's history is inextricably linked to the history of Eguisheim, as the Beyer family have been wine-growers since 1580. It was in 1867 that Emile BEYER founded the firm, initially based in the centre of the village, before relocating to a former post-house outside the village walls, at the end of the First World War.
The business was then managed by Léon BEYER, who was succeeded by his son of the same name in 1959, who was also Mayor of Eguisheim, as was his father. An enlightened gourmet, the elegant and affable Léon BEYER II - actively seconded by his son Marc, above all focused on creating the prestigious gastronomic aura that sets the firm apart from the others.
Specialist in gourmet restauration (it supplies the vast majority of France's "three-stars"), it also turned its attention to export, which today accounts for two-thirds of its production.
The Maison Beyer vineyards comprise some twenty hectares of vines in Eguisheim and its surrounding area, primarily in the Eichberg and Pfersigberg grand crus - although they are not marked on the label, with an eye to wine merchants desirous of privileging their signature. Nonetheless, the "grandes cuvées" of the house are marked by the easily recognisable clayey-limestone characteristics so typical of this "terroir", or soil. Moreover, the Beyers bring in grapes (equivalent to some fifty hectares) which go to produce their selection and reserve wines.
With their never-changing label - image continuity - Léon BEYER Alsace wines are above all dedicated to gastronomy. Sappy and, racy, with elegant acidity and dry and vigorous character, they deserve the place of honour on any fine table. Although Pinot Blanc de Blancs may be fresh and supple, the Riesling asserts itself like royalty through its two "grandes cuvées": distinction of the Riesling Les Ecaillers (1990 combining floral notes with its nascent, lean, elegant and vigorous mineral characteristics), the obvious class of the Riesling Comtes d'Eguisheim (1983 with a superb mineral and lemon nose, supple, slightly bitter and perfectly balanced in the mouth, revealing all the beauty of a great wine).
Tokay Pinot Gris 1989 Vendange Tardive, with hints of honey, generous,
well-developed and perfectly balanced. The Comtes d'Eguisheim 1990 Gewurztraminer,
with pure and frank aromas, boasts a delicious richness although needs
more time to express itself fully; the 1989 SGN (Sélection des
Grains Nobles) offers a concentrated basketful of crystallised fruit,
taking the cepage to a new dimension, a veritable delicacy (Léon
BEYER, an expert in matching wines and food recommends it with either
chicken à la crème or roast figs).
The Maison Beyer ageing cellar
Like those village museums that we hope will never disappear, the Maison BEYER is an integral part of Alsace's heritage that we hope will never change, as it has indeed set the standard recognised by wine lovers the world over.