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2002 Christmas letter

2001 Christmas letter

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Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and clients,

Did you know that in the historic cellar of the Hospices de Strasbourg there is the oldest wine in the world in a barrel dating from 1472? It has been kept in the barrel which is regularly topped up. One of the last tasters to be worthy of this wine relic was General Leclerc, the soldier who liberated the town of Strasbourg in 1944.


A jewel from the 18th century coopers’ trade. 

For me, an unconditional lover of old white wines, the idea of smelling this unbelievable nectar, immediately made me want to take part in the renovation and rebirth of this historic cellar and heritage which includes among other things rare and precious barrels.

Thus, like a few other valiant Alsace winemaker colleagues, I became the owner of a renovated cask with a capacity of 12.34 hl which I use to mature 1,600 bottles of a reserve wine chosen each year from a different grape variety. Every year after the harvest, I take my wine to Strasbourg.


Then in September of the next year, I get most of it back, bottled and with its symbolic label showing the Hospice Cross. The rest of the bottles are sold directly by the hospital cellar which has a store. The profit is reinvested in medical equipment for the hospital.

If today, the patients still received their 2 litre daily ration as they did in the Middle Ages, not only for their thirst and their aches and pains, but also for their spiritual nourishment and the peace of their soul, my barrel would hardly succor two people for a year… 

Since the end of the 20th century, things have changed, wine like food and medicine has become a cult and an intellectual culture of pleasure for the senses at least for the amateur wine lover that we all try to be.




Unfortunately our Health Minister does not see things the same way and is trying to enforce with false enthusiasm the Evin law that is supposed to limit the use of wine and tobacco. A difficult exercise, because our hypocrite of a Minister cannot take the risk of making the State bankrupt as 40% of the cost of the 35 hour week is being paid from these taxes. This law is a scandal.

To ensure that this unbelievable source of finance continues to fill the coffers of the State, our good doctor Kouchner, Minister of Health, decided not to vote another law to prevent children and teenagers from smoking at school: Obviously, he has to educate the future generations who pay... (Journal DNA, 31 May 2001: "Kouchner is withdrawing his motion: the Health Minister affirms that it is not a question of ending children smoking by prohibiting smoking for those aged under 16 years of age... he did this after signing the charter of the World Health Organization recommending just that!").

Now, our politicians talk and take inefficient action to demonstrate that there are 60,000 deaths per year from smoking, 45,000 from alcoholism (mainly from imported liquor: whisky, tequila, vodka, beer, etc...) and show off our 8,500 road deaths per year to justify ever increasing taxes on the car drivers.

Thus, they are still trying to make us believe in the efficiency of alcohol tests with very questionable and scandalously discriminatory standards and apply them to the innocent motorists (the Swiss still have their 0.8 g limit).

The powers that be still do not have the will to allow the police to check the contents of the car trunks of terrorists or other wrong doers. This would be against the principle of individual liberty of our members of Parliament; even the Prime Minister agrees!

How many less deaths have we had on the roads since lowering the alcohol limit from 0.8 g to 0.5 g? And the increase in insecurity in France has become quite unacceptable. Is not it due at least in part, and as I have always thought, to changing the role of police who no longer have the time or the financial resources and even more importantly the orders from above to deal with the real delinquents.

These topics make people angry because they reveal the contradictions in our society and will be on the agenda of the next presidential elections in May 2002.

Dear friends, to avoid the sabotage of our beautiful Latin culture, so enviable and envied, try to enthusiastically apply around you the wonderful proverb of Montaigne:

"Pour them a little bit of good wine and they will make good laws for you."



Let us hope that the Hospices de Strasbourg wine that is part of our heritage in France, and that I am marketing for the first time this autumn, will help you with your crusade. No, good wine from France is not a drug and not even alcohol, as some would like to make out by having us believe in an insidious manner that a drop of wine every day is the same thing. Wine is our culture, it is part of our existence giving moments of pleasure and happiness... It is what makes us different from barbarians, from killjoys, it helps us to face the harsh realities of life, the stupidities and the aberrations of our society.

It gives us strength, a fighting spirit and a critical sense: a corked wine is always corked no matter what you say!

I must remember to thank you for your trust and faithful support. It is thanks to you that this year, I am putting my 20th harvest into the cellar. My journey through life has been fascinating, but difficult from a financial point of view because one never starts a business with nothing. Thank you to all of you who have helped me with your futures buying. This enables me to take risks with harvesting dates, ice wine and late harvest wine.

The 2001 vintage starts the new century well. Quality is there again, but due to the dry month of October, the noble rot wines will be rare because last year the noble rot did not develop on the grapes. However, the weather was favorable for the Riesling classified growths, late harvest, the reserve Z and outlaw Sylvaner.

Like every year, I am looking forward to hearing from you (you can use the form on the Contact page). Don’t forget to send in your reply quickly (have a look at futures buying offer) so that your orders (grouped or not) can be handled properly before the end of the year holiday period. For Christmas, new year and business gifts. I am, as usual, at your service to try and adapt to your needs and wishes.

Happy holidays and my most wine loving wishes for 2002!

Soultzmatt, 2 November 2001

Your winemaker, Seppi Landmann