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Alexandre Dupont de Ligonnès
viticulture reborn during Communism, or
finding order in chaos

{ About 15 minutes outside of Dresden, driving east just over the Elbe river, is a small garden-like vineyard, surrounded by trees, gazing just out over the city's rebuilt horizon. }
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This 700-year-old vineyard was bought by the royal family of Saxony in the mid-18th century; one of the many princes wanted a country estate, thus the superbly elegant chapel next to the vines, pictured above.

If things were already in some decline, the first half of the 20th century was devastating: phylloxera, two world wars, the razing of this entire city. By the time this region was cut off from the west, the vineyard was already something closer to a chaotic garden, unkempt and in parts fallow.

Yet, during this time of ubiquitous neglect in East Germany, a small miracle took place in this vineyard: A group of passionate young people brought the site back to life, clearing away the dead vines and replanting what was necessary. Despite the steep slopes and demanding hand labor involved, despite the intimate scale (or perhaps because of it?), the vineyard was reborn.

There is very little documentation, yet it seems that for a vineyard less than one hectare in size, there were over ten individual growers(!), each working tiny parcels, each one planting whatever they could find. Amazingly, most of these tiny parcels have between 3 and 5 unique varieties planted, from Riesling to Muscat to Müller-Thurgau to Pinot Noir and back again. These were true labors of love; all most likely homebrews made for and by the families that worked the parcels.

This chaos - a lone, miniscule vineyard with over 15 varieties planted - is what the French-German Alexandre Dupont de Ligonnès found when he first saw, and first fell in love with the vineyard. Since 2016, he has been trying to tell this vineyard's story, to make some order from this chaos.

The resulting wines are like characters from a Wes Anderson movie, complete with the vague and slightly absurd aristocratic names and flourishes. 

The wines are also among the most delicious and provocative wines we have ever tasted from this northern region. They are kaleidoscopic, effusive, technicolor, complicated. There is no easy narrative here; the wines draw references from the sterner skin-contact growers of Italy's Friuli (think Gravner and Vodopivec), to Valentini in Abruzzo, to the wild, aromatic whites of southern France.

If in many ways Alexandre's wines are supremely classical - "beauty" and "deliciousness" are obvious concerns - they are also indescribably different.

All the wines have a fascinating push-pull, glycerin-rich, palate-staining flavors, yet they are also finessed with a serpentine grace. Baroque, yet defined - restrained?

While we are beyond excited about this offer, we also acknowledge there is obviously little to no context for what the wines of Saxony are, or have been, or can be. This is the very first step. We have written a rather large treatise on what winemaking at this northern latitude is; please click here to read our article "So you wanna know about Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen, eh?" Some of you may remember this article in reference to the Konni & Evi offering from Saale-Unstrut we did some months ago. Either way, a few things are probably worth introducing, or reviewing, in this email.

First, while Saxony (Sachsen in German) is, along with Saale-Unstrut, the most northern winemaking region in Germany, it is really more east than it is north. As such, while it is cool, the temperatures here are not dramatically lower than that of say Trier (in the Mosel region) or Würzberg (in Franconia). What is different is the severity of the winters and the shortness of the growing season. Grapes that need longer growing seasons, like Riesling, are rarer in these northern haunts; grapes like Müller-Thurgau and Sylvaner are much more common. While the Pinot varieties have been here for decades if not centuries, certainly they are becoming more and more fashionable and, with global warming, the fruit is ripening further, the wines are getting better.

While the history of viticulture here is deep and profound, the truth is that the 20th century marked a very severe watershed moment for this region. Even if viticulture wasn't on the brink of extinction here, things were very bad - exactly how bad is very difficult to document. The narratives that existed, they are being researched and explored. A young, eager generation is looking to the older vines and to the periods before communism, to rebuild this culture - perhaps even, in the case of Alexandre - to reshape this culture.

It is a very, very exciting time here in Saxony, and the story is just beginning. But taste for yourself.

This offer is now closed. If you need help finding the wines please email

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