Olivier Humbrecht joined us in the FINE+RARE office to talk to us about the domaine and taste through his newly released 2012s, which mark his 25th vintage as winemaker. Here, we share some of our team’s favourites.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is one of, if not the, legendary wineries of Alsace. Based in Turckheim, the family domaine has been producing wine since 1959; however, their family’s viticultural roots can be traced back to 1620. The domaine own 40 ha across five villages in the Haut-Rhin, with 4 grand crus (Rangen, Goldert, Brand and Hengst) and several single vineyards (Rotenberg, Clos Hauserer, Herrenweg, Clos Jebsal, Clos Windsbuhl and Heimbourg).
Despite being one of the larger domaines, they do things a little differently. The wines, of which 99% are white, are grown biodynamically and the yields are very small in comparison to the average yields permitted in Alsace: circa 200,000 bottles per year – comprising of 30-35 wines. This amounts to less than 50% of the permitted amount. In the winery, gravity is used for the slow pressing of whole clusters for 12-24 hours (compared to the normal pressing cycles of 4-6 hours). There is no skin contact and fermentation is with indigenous yeasts found in the precious old barrels where the wines spend 1 and a half years on their lees. Olivier is a staunch advocate of biodynamism and organic farming, transforming the winery to be fully certified in 2002 and he played a key role in setting up the Biodynamic Association Biodyvin.
To help simplify the complex wine styles of Alsace, Olivier has created a sweetness index which is present on all post 2001 bottles. The index attempts to combine the residual sugars, alcohol, acidity and overall structure of the wine to aid consumers in better understanding the style and with what it’d be best served with. A level 1 wine will have less than 7g residual sugar per litre, while a ‘5’ is anything over 45g and some of the wines we tasted were upwards of 60g!
Olivier really treated us in the office with 12 of some of his finest 2012 wines. We liked them so much that we sent samples over to Hong Kong for one of their Friday office tastings. Highlighted are a few of the teams’ favourites:
Muscat Goldert Grand Cru (Index 1)
“An enticing nose of rich mango caught me by surprise. A frame of tropical fruit is embellished with hints of Turkish delight, rose, wild herbs and very subtle spice. Dry yet with superb acid/alcohol balance allowing the fruit to really shine, even at this early stage in development. Aromatic but structured. The Grand Cru quality is clear; this is Muscat that stands above all other Muscat –a welcome surprise.”
Steve McNeill, Private Client Sales.
Riesling Herrenweg (Index 1)
“Very mineral – stony aroma immediately apparent, followed by fresh green apple and white peach. Palate is direct, dry, already has wonderfully rounded acidity and is full of fresh lime and citrus rind. Finish is very precise, very mineral, long and already delicious.”
Simon Brewster, Private Client Sales
“Beautiful open, expressive nose with peach, apricot and subtle exotic notes with a herbal, mineral, flinty backbone and subtle smoke. The palate is richer with more powerful smokey notes and lots of flinty minerality. The balance is impeccable – beautiful acidity, super focussed and linear with a wonderful delicate, dry finish. Delicious.”
Lucy Rothwell, Assistant Communications Manager
Riesling Brand Grand Cru (Index 2)
“This is a little closed on the nose but opens up on the palate with yellow plum fruit and evocative honeysuckle perfume. Rich and ripe with just a touch of sweetness to offset razor sharp acidity. Very long.“
Camilla Bowler, Fine Wine Buyer
“A wonderfully inviting yellowy green complexion to this wine. Honey, melon and with minerality and smoke. A little reductive at first but once this blows off there is great concentration of flavour that is evident both on the nose and palate. The palate shows, again, the great minerality that this vineyard offers – the volcanic soil is in evidence here. Great balance, focus and a delight to drink. Who else is making Pinot Gris like this – I struggle to think of anyone that comes close. Brilliant wine.”
David Massarella, Private Client Sales
Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl (Index 5)
“A gentle, delicate nose of honey, apricot with a hint of spice and subtle aromas of a rose garden. The palate is full and well-rounded bursting with ripe tropical and citrus fruits with a minerality that reflects the terroir of this vineyard. The sweetness is mouth-watering yet not overpowering; there is a finesse and depth to this wine that is simply lovely. The low alcohol and acidity makes it an excellent accompaniment to spicy dishes or as a light dessert wine.”
Hannah Blair, Assistant Buyer
Gewurztraminer Goldert Grand Cru (Index 5)
“Gentle and delicate in style with a brilliant freshness and poise and a subtle touch of smoke: complex. Sweetness is surprising on the palate as it isn’t evident on the nose. Lots of lychee, white melon and spring flower; feminine, exceptionally elegant and beautifully balanced.”
Weibo Jiang, Private client Sales