It was in 1871 that Jean Dirler settled in the tiny village of Bergholtz and founded Vins Dirler. Bergholtz and its 1,000 inhabitants are tucked up in the lower hills of the Vosge Mountains 25km south of the city of Colmar in the Upper Rhine department of southern Alsace. Today the Domaine is run by the latest Jean Dirler, who represents the 5th generation, and his wife Ludivine whom he married in 1998. This was an important year at the Domaine because it was also the beginning of its conversion to biodynamic viticulture as prescribed by Rudolf Steiner. Jean and his father began by converting the easier lower slopes of vineyard (6ha) and continued in 1999 by converting the remaining 3ha which were the steepest and narrowest and thus necessitated the use of horse and plough, still in use today. In 2000 the Domaine increased in size as Dirler was joined with Ludivine's familial vineyards, Domaine Hell-Cade, in nearby Guebwiller. The merger, now known as Dirler-Cade, brought the total vineyards planted to 18 hectares. These new vineyards were brought on in stages so that they too could be properly converted to biodynamics. The process was completed in 2003 which allowed Dirler-Cade to label their entire production as AB (Agriculture Biologique) and BIODYVIN (Bio-Dynamic) as of the 2007 vintage. Close to half of the Dirler-Cade vineyards (42%) are in the Grands Crus of Saering, Spiegel, Kessler and Kitterle. In addition the Domaine also has plantings in the 5 lieux-dits known as Belzbrunnen, Schwarzberg, Bux, Schimberg and Bollenberg.
Grand Cru Saering: 26.75ha exposed E and SE at altitudes between 260-300m, gentle slopes
Grand Cru Spiegel: 18.26ha exposed E to S at altitudes between 260-315m, mild slopes
Grand Cru Kessler: 28.50ha exposed SE at altitudes between 300-390m, steep slopes
Grand Cru Kitterle: 25.79ha exposed E, SE and SW at altitudes between 270-360m, steep slopes
Winemaking at the Domaine follows some simple guidelines because the Dirler-Cade philosophy follows the idea that wine is made in the vineyard. Since 1987 each parcel or group of parcels within a single vineyard is whole cluster pressed with a pneumatic press into either large oak foudres or stainless steel tanks. The juice is left to ferment for anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months depending on the cuvee. The wine is aged on its fine lees for 9-12 months before a light filtration and bottling. A tiny amount of sulfur is added at this time.
Click here to visit Domaine Dirler-Cade.