Despite being only a few kilometres away from the touristic Andlau, the village of Reichsfeld is off the beaten path, idyllic and preserved, almost stuck in a time warp. Tucked away, up a valley and protected by the Ungersberg mountain (culminating at 901m). Reichsfeld and its schist soils have been considered prime location for winemaking and produced some of the most sought-after wines as early as the 12th century. The Comtes of Andlau showed interest first and during the 14th century the Cistercian monks planted the steep côteau of Schieferberg (hill of slate) before extending the plantings to the neighbouring village of Nothalten, now famous for its Muenchberg Grand Cru on pink sandstone and volcanic soil. The Bohns have been vignerons in Reichsfeld for over three centuries, passing down savoir-faire and knowledge from generation to generation. Nowadays Bernard and Arthur, father and son, look after their heritage with biodiversity and wildlife conservation as core values. Wild cover crop is not mowed but instead crushed and rolled with a rolo faca (knife-roller) to preserve humidity and increase life (e.g. humus, insects) in the vineyard. Bernard has always had an experimental mindset trialling with vintage blending, perpetual reserve, fermentation in receptacles of any shape or form, straw wines etc. With the arrival of the young (now in his mid-20s) and talented Arthur at the domaine around 2010, this pioneering spirit has reached another level with the making of sulphur free and skin contact wines. Those are the wines which stroke us the most with their vitality, strength and authenticity; unique wines we are hugely excited about.
L'Indigène is one of Arthur's creations and uses what is often perceived as a lesser grape of the region, Sylvaner, to great effect. A little like some of the macerations with Pinot Gris from the Alsace (notable examples by the likes of Pierre Frick and JM Dreyer), when the Sylvaner is macerated on its skins it lends the wine a peachy, almost purple blush - something that is pleasantly confounding to drinkers who expect the wine to have been extracted from red grapes. The character is very distinctive - the fruit is all dried apricot and peach, the tannins giving the wine a structure that makes you feel you could quite easily be drinking an alcoholic iced tea. Whilst we love the classic wines of the Alsace we also get a big kick out of those taking a more experimental approach to show what else is possible - Bohn is one of those producers.