The Boeckel family's roots have been firmly planted in the mefieval Alsace village of Mittelbergheim for 400 years or so, and it was in 1853 that one Fréderic Boeckel established the family business that flourishes there to this day.
The family's 23 hectares of vineyards are overseen today by brothers Jean-Daniel and Thomas Boeckel. They follow sustainable principles, and they acquire grapes from a further 20 hectares owned by other growers who follow the same quality-conscious principles. All the fruit is hand-harvested and then sorted on arrival at the winery to ensure that only the best grapes make it into the presses.
A slow, temperature-controlled fermentation follows and the wines are then aged in large wooden casks, ranging from 10 to 140 hectolitres in volume. Some of these casks are a hundred years old and the range of sizes allows individual vineyard parcels to be vinified separately. The wines may spend a year in barrel, and often longer for particular cuvées, but the intention is not to impart oak flavour and the age of the casks in tandem with a lining of thick tartrate deposits do not allow any such flavours to emerge from the wood.
Though the winery has been modernised in recent years there remains one vestige of the past that has been retained even though it is no longer used - a 250 metre electric 'bottle train' designed and installed by the Boeckels in 1950 to transport bottles from the bottling room to the cellars for storage, and thence to the labelling room, with the minimum of effort. It is a nod to the balance between tradition and innovation that is typical of the best producers in Alsace.
They have parcels in the grands crus of Wiebelsberg and of Zoetzenberg, the latter of which Mittelbergheim is best known for and where sylvaner takes precedence over other varieties.