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Olivier HumbrechtDomaine Zind Humbrecht Circle of Wine Writers Tasting 14th June 2005
Kettners Restaurant, Soho, London.

Zind Humbrecht – perhaps one of the top producers in Alsace produces a host of differing wines all under biodynamic principles. A superb tasting hosted by the Circle of Wine Writers had Olivier Humbrecht MW (France’s only live in French MW) discussing these wines, his drive for quality and the vineyard experiments he has overseen to propel his wines to the upper echelons of excellence.

Humbrechts have been producing wines in Alsace since 1620, although the present domaine was only created in 1959 when Leonard Humbrecht married Genevi?ve Zind, thereby uniting the two families` vineyards. Today it is unquestionably one of the star estates, producing rich and expressive wines that reflect their individual sites and terroirs.

The domaine has 40 hectares of vineyards with vines in 4 Grands Crus areas – Rangen, Goldert, Hengst and Brand. Production is generally 130,000-140,000 bottles a year.

  • Humbrecht Zind, 2002
    Available from Waitrose for £13.99.
    This is the domains only blend, a mix of 50% Auxerrois and 15% Pinot Blanc with the remainder being Chardonnay. A superb start to the range – good weight, ripe honeyed pea edge, nutty on the nose. Elegant with gently spiced apricot flavours.
    Scribblings Rating – 92/100

    Saint Urbain is a parcel of vines in the Rangen region of Alsace which, unsurprisingly has a chapel in the centre. There is also a river at the bottom of the steeply sloped vineyard which aids the development of botrytis. The vineyard is so steep and is formed from abrasive soils that the domaine supplies shoes every two months for the vineyard workers. Rangen itself lies in the south of Alsace.

  • Humbrecht Clos Saint Urbain Riesling, 2003
    Lovely honeysuckle nose, fresh, young, clean. Sharp acidic edge, sherbet and lime-drenched. Dry, weighty with a delicious richness. 13% Alcohol.
  • Humbrecht Clos Saint Urbain Riesling, 1999
    A more developed nose – oily rag and apricots and a dash of orange pith. Lovely palate with good complexity – orange, floral, apricot flavours follow though on the good long length. 1999 was a difficult year but produced this “real gem”. Alcohol 14%.
  • Humbrecht Clos Saint Urbain Riesling, 1994
    Really getting into the petrolly developed Riesling character now. A touch of sweetness evident here, still high acidity very fresh. “smoky, lean, austere” a “most interesting vintage – a true great vintage of the decade.” Alcohol 14%.

    Clos (walled vineyard) Windsbuhl is a 6 1/2 hectare in size.

  • Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris, 2003
    Touch of aniseed to the full ripe palate. Full long length and a stony finish. Too young and a touch closed. A surprising 16% Alcohol.
  • Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris, 2000
    Some sweetness making for a deliciously rounded palate. Softer acidity. Good long length leading into a honeyed richness. Alcohol 15%.
  • Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris, 1996
    Very developed nose, full rich, pea shells a prickle on the tongue and a little sweetness. A little botrytis giving complexity to the green apple, apricot and pineapple flavours. Delicious. High acidity here keeps the extra sweetness in check. This vintage had a very late harvest – 2nd week of November. Alcohol 13.5%.

    Goldert is 10 miles south of Colmar. It has rich, deep soils and a gentle east facing slope.

  • Humbrecht Goldert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer, 2003
    Subtle floral nose – roses, turkish delight, honeysuckle. Dry, sherried (?) then a pure turkish delight flavour emerges and carries on into a long, long finish, Very refined and classy. Bone dry finish. No botrytis. A huge 17% alcohol apparently. “Not everyone will like this”.
  • Humbrecht Goldert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer, 2001
    A more honeyed nose – less floral as would be expected with a little age. Floral edge and subtle chocolate appears on the finish. Touch of sweetness but no botrytis.
  • Humbrecht Goldert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer VDT, 2002
    Botrytis applenty. Lovely honeyed pineapple with crisp apple underlay. Good structure, botrytis really evident on the nose. Nice spice edge – cinnamon – appears on the finish.
  • Humbrecht Clos Jebsel SGN Pinot Gris, 2001
    Fascinatingly complex aroma – botrytis,
    orange, biscuits. High acidity to match the rich lightly toffee edge on the palate. Syruped oranges but not sticky. Wonderful balance.
  • Humbrecht Clos Jebsel SGN Pinot Gris, 1995
    Deep copper colour and a stunningly ripe and complex nose in support. Deep toffee oranges, more botrytis, very high acidity but very rich palate. Intense. Delicious.

Quotes are from Oliver Humbrecht. No ‘scores’ have been recorded for the majority of the wines as retail prices are unavailable.

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