Sommelier's Choice

Ilka Seitner's wine tip: 2017 Riesling Sommerberg E from Domaine Albert Boxler

(Updated on: Apr 06, 2024)

Ilka Seitner, sommelière at the Schwarzwaldstube*** restaurant, recommends the 2017 Riesling Sommerberg E, an outstanding product from Domaine Albert Boxler in Alsace. With her deep passion for wine, which she developed further at the renowned Traube Tonbach, Ilka Seitner represents the pinnacle of German sommeliers. The Riesling reflects the unique minerality and intense ripe fruit of its origin and offers a harmonious taste profile.

The Albert Boxler winery, known for its biodynamic cultivation, stands out for its conscious use of natural resources. The special "Sommerberg E" site in Eckberg is characterized by barren, granite-rich soils that give the wines an incomparable structure and minerality. For optimum enjoyment, Ilka recommends the universal glass from the SPIEGELAU Definition series, which brings out the characteristics of the Riesling perfectly.


The sommelier

Ilka discovered her love of gastronomy while still at school. The Bavarian completed her training as a hotel manageress in a tiny establishment in her home town of Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate, where she graduated as the best in the Upper Palatinate after just under nine and a half years.

This was followed by a move to Nuremberg to the Luma restaurant and her first contact with fine dining service, where she soon realized that this would not be enough for her and that she wanted to learn from the greats. She discovered her passion for wine in the Silberberg restaurant at Traube Tonbach, began traveling to wine regions and acquired more and more knowledge.

After a short time, she moved to the gourmet restaurant Schwarzwaldstube***, where she has been working as a sommelier alongside head sommelier Stéphane Gass ever since. In 2020, she graduated as an IHK-certified sommelière and WSET Level 3, followed by the title of "Best German Young Sommelière" in the Chaine des Rotisseurs competition in 2021.

The wine recommendation

2017 Riesling Sommerberg E, Domaine Albert Boxler

The region

Protected by the Vosges Mountains, Alsace stretches almost 100km along the Rhine on the French-German border. The prevailing westerly wind rains down on the western flanks of the Vosges and then falls to the east as a warm downslope wind in the vineyards, making Alsace the driest and one of the warmest wine-growing regions in France. The collapse of the edge of the Rhine almost 45 million years ago also resulted in a patchwork of soil structures that can hardly be surpassed in terms of diversity and small parcel variation. But as different as the Alsace wines may be, they generally have one thing in common thanks to the warm climate: an unmistakable melting texture.

The winery

In 1996, Jean Boxler took over the winery named after his grandfather Albert Boxler in the heart of Alsatian viticulture northwest of Colmar in a tiny winegrowing village called Niedermorschwihr, near Turckheim. He cultivates almost 19 hectares biodynamically with a Grand Cru share of no less than 80%, spread over the Brand and Sommerberg vineyards. In addition to Riesling, which makes up the largest share of the area at 38%, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Muscat and Pinot Noir complete the repertoire. Harvested by hand, fermented spontaneously and vinified in the classic Fuder style, the wines are hard to beat in terms of finesse, minerality and elegance.

The location

The Sommerberg parcel is located in a south-facing position directly between Niedermorschwihr and the neighboring municipality of Katzental. Covering 28.36 hectares, the site is divided into a total of eight individual parcels which, due to their altitude of up to 410 meters above sea level, benefit above all at night from the high day-night differences and cool draughts. As one of the steepest sites in Alsace, with a gradient of up to 45° in places, the Sommerberg is generally characterized by mica-rich granite weathered soil with a very thin layer, but the plots vary so much in their structure that each individual plot has its own unique characteristics. Especially as the site is divided into three amphitheaters, each of which creates its own unique microclimate. This is also the reason why Jean Boxler decided to vinify not only each grape variety separately, but above all each of the plots he owns (Eckberg, Wibtal, Vanne, Dudenstein and Mittelberg). Only in the eastern part of the Sommerberg, around the Schorr and Dudenstein parcels, are the soil structures characterized by clay and sandy colluvial soils as well as shell limestone, sandstone and marl.

The vineyard

Located in the cool, upper part of the central amphitheatre, the Eckberg is characterized above all by its slope and its heavily weathered, extremely barren granite soil. The thin layer and high mica content give the wines a unique minerality. Every year, Jean Boxler decides which parts of the parcel planted with Riesling will be planted in Sommerberg E and which in the regular Sommerberg.

The wine

After almost one year of maturation in the barrel and the subsequent four years in the bottle, the potential of the Eckberg with its barrenness is revealed in an extremely well-balanced nose, which creates a very harmonious picture with its unmistakably intense minerality and ripe yellow fruit. Characterized by a herbaceous, salty tannin structure on the palate, the fruit tends to recede into the background, but is united with minerality and density in an almost vibrant finish. It is precisely this ability to combine the salinity of the terroir and the incredibly straightforward, juicy acidity with the complex, very compressed texture that makes the Eckberg so unique and allows it to linger on the palate for a fascinatingly long time.


The glass

What's the pairing?

Lemongrass skewers of lobster and scallop, seafood ceviche, glazed celery and bell bell pepper chutney, served with a light coconut garnish

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