The picturesque town of Eguisheim has been at the heart of wine production in Alsace for over a thousand years and for over 400 of those years, the Beyer family has been making wine there. Maison Léon Beyer was founded in 1867 and is one of the Grandes Maisons d’Alsace, part négociant but also important land owner.
For many years the driving force behind this house was the late Léon Beyer. Without question he was one of those figures who helped raise the quality of Alsace wines, championing his cause through the world’s greatest restaurants. In charge today are his son Marc and grandson Yann, both qualified oenologists.
Maison Beyer produces around a million bottles a year from all Alsace’s grape varieties. Bought-in grapes are used to make all the entry level wines and may sometimes be included in the reserve but in general all the better wines come from Beyer’s 20-odd hectares of vineyard which include important holdings in Eguisheim’s two grands crus, Eichberg and Pfersigberg. Curiously though, Beyer, like Hugel, have not tended to market their wines as grand cru, but today that, too, is changing.
The Beyer style is highly individual and readily recognisable. Grapes are picked fully ripe, and fermented at high temperatures often in large in large oak foudres. The Beyers' epicurean passions have helped mould the style so that the wines are perfect with food. An essential requirement here is that wines are fermented to dryness, even in the case of pinot gris and gewurztraminer. The top wines are marketed as Comtes d’Eguisheim and are all from grand cru vineyards, always needing many years to come round.
Beyer always have several vintages in stock and are these days one of few houses to be able to provide restaurants with fully mature wine. Best for value is Riesling Cuvée les Ecaillers, which always comes from the Pfersigberg.
Beyer wines are always full-flavoured, full-bodied and concentrated, gaining in complexity with time. When young, they may seem closed but the heavy soils and particularly dry climate tend to highlight a certain generosity and breadth of flavour in the wines.
Riesling is probably their strongest suit but they are capable of making outstanding pinot gris and gewurz as well. Pinot noir, traditionally made and aged in foudres (large oak barrels) can also be exceptional.