BEST WHITE WINE MAKER ON THE PLANET? WE THINK SO!

wi_uncorked16_023_lh_t2007 Domaine Zind Humbrecht

Riesling Turckheim

Bottling date: 9/2008 Alcohol: 13.2°

alc Residual sweetness: 3.5 g/l

Yields: 58 hl/ha Optimum drinking period: 2012-2022

Average age of the vines: 24 years Surface: 0.7 ha

Terroir: gravely soil/silt; granite and marl

Indice 1

 

Our village range wines are made of various vineyards located within the same village. Sometimes, some of thosevineyards can be located in some very good single vineyards, but for various reasons (age of the vines, ripeness, location), we decide to declassify some of them.  The Riesling Turckheim is made from vineyards planted between 1978 and 1990 in the Brand vineyard (80%) and a younger vineyard planted in 2001, located just below the Clos Jebsal in Turckheim on a richer marl/gravely soil. The 2007 crop was unbelievably healthy despite a relatively high ripeness for Riesling. An early harvest and very dry weather also helped to create perfect conditions for a continuous and steady fermentation, capable to transform all the sugars of the grapes.                                                                                                                                                             12/2008: for me this is perhaps the most typical Riesling in our range. Still slightly closed at first approach, but some air will reveal beautiful fruity Riesling aromas. The mouth is classic: dry, crisp acidity and long mineral after taste, with a good volume. Like all previous vintages of this wine, the high quality of the vineyards used to make this wine show on the length. Classic sea food wine!

 

Riesling Clos Häuserer

Bottling: 2/2009 \Alcohol: 12.5 ° alc Yields: 67 hl/ha

Optimum drinking period: 2012-2019+

Vineyard planted in 1973 Surface: 1.2 ha

Terroir: Calcareous Marl from the Oligocene period. Very

gentle slope.

Indice 1

 

The Clos Häuserer vineyard is located at the bottom of the Hengst hillside, just under the Grand Cru limit, where theslope becomes gentler and the soil is much deeper. The Oligocene calcareous rock is in fact under 2 or 3 feet of rich marl. This area enjoys a very dry and warm climate. The secluded situation of the Clos Häuserer, circled by hills, accentuates both heat in summer and cold in spring or autumn. It certainly was a gamble for my father to choose Riesling in this location! The richness of the soil refrains Riesling of ripening too quickly and help to keep higher acidity, however, warm periods allows for eventually good ripeness. Most previous vintages, this vineyard saw quite some noble rot development, but in 2007 the grapes couldn’t have been harvested healthier. The fermentation was slow, despite a moderate alcohol level and the wine gained a lot of complexity and character after spending a long time on the fermenting lees.                                                                                12/2008: still on the lees and un-racked at this stage! This Riesling shows all the limestone/calcareous character this grape variety can acquire from a healthy slow ripening vintage: lots of minerals, juicy acidity and good weight. The lower than usual alcohol level makes it a fantastic food wine and its delicate finish is more enhanced by its acidity and minerality than sheer power. This reminds me a lot of the 2001 vintage

 

Pinot-Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim

Bottling date: 9/2008 Alcohol: 15.6°

 alc Residual sweetness: 20 g/l

Yields: 51 hl/ha Optimum drinking period: 2010-2019+

Average age of the vines: 16 years Surface: 1 ha

Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor.

Indice 2

 

The Herrenweg vineyard enjoys early ripening conditions. Despite the valley floor location, this vineyard is located in a warm micro climate, detached from the shadow of the Vosges Mountains, and therefore benefits from longer sunshine hours. The gravely soil is capable of draining water as well as a steep hillside. The above normal rainfalls of July and August 2007 didn’t in fact create too many problems, except the fact that it is always more complicated to access and work in vineyards after heavy rains. Only important rainfalls just before harvest could affect this type of vineyard, which would then show their limitation compared to Grand Cru sites. In 2007, the weather was very dry just before and during harvest, allowing the Pinot Gris in this type of vineyard to fully ripen, develop some noble rot but also to keep a vivid acidity. The grapes were harvested at near late harvest style ripeness, despite a very early picking date, so it was impossible to see this wine finishing dry!     12/2008: the nose is an explosion of ripe exotic fruits, mangos, passion fruits, mixed with some more classic Pinot Gris nutty, and toasted flavors. The palate shows ripeness, but also elegance. The sweetness is almost more obvious on the nose than on the palate, thanks to some great acidity presence, especially on the finish. Like most Herrenweg wines, it is already very enjoyable and showing most of its potential today.

Pinot-Gris Rotenberg

Bottling date: 9/2008 Alcohol: 14.4° alc

Residual sweetness: 29g/l Yields: 26 hl/ha

Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022+

Average age of vines: 26 years

Surface: 1.2 ha

Terroir: Oligocene calcareous. West to Northwest facing. Strong slope.

Indice 3

The Rotenberg vineyard was acquired by the Zind family a long time ago. The cool, higher altitude red calcareous soil always allowed the pinot grapes to express delicacy and subtle fruity aromas. As Alsace warms up, these less sunny sites become real gems. They allow the grapes to mature slowly while keeping good acidity. The 2007 Rotenberg was on its way to become a late harvest or SGN wine. We decided not to wait too late to harvest it so the wine would not end up too sweet and, mostly, keep this 2007 classic delicacy. Of course, we always under-estimate the potential of such vineyards, and despite the relatively low amount of noble rot, this wine reached a high ripeness.                                                 12/2008: the nose is today in between a very serious mineral, stony calcareous type aromas and very fruity (peach/apricots) expression, slightly influenced by some noble rot. The palate is ultra classic for this vineyard, showing great acidity, capable to cover up the sweetness like no other vineyard, and delicate smoky/earthy aromas. This isn’t perhaps the fruitiest Rotenberg style on the palate, but 2007 is a very ‘mineral’ vintage, and it shows on the intensity of the finish.

Pinot-Gris Vieilles Vignes

Bottling date: 9/2008 Alcohol: 13° alc

Residual sweetness: 85 g/l

Yields: 27 hl/ha Optimum drinking period: 2010-2025

Average age of the vines: 62 years

Surface: 0.5 ha Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor.

Indice 5

The Vieilles Vignes selection originates from two small parcels planted in the late 40’s by my grandfather Emile Zind.  One is located in the Herrenweg vineyard, the other one amongst the old vines we use to produce our Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim. They both share the same soil and climate characteristic, similar to the Herrenweg vineyard (gravely soil). These old vines were planted from very good quality massal selections. They have the rare character of carrying only one small cluster per shoot. The crop is always minuscule (and that is why modern selection emphasized mostly on larger/more fertile selections) and concentrated. Very often these grapes are actually harvested very healthy. Older vines are in fact more botrytis resistant (deeper root system, less vigour), but in 2007, it was the opposite!  There was a huge noble rot development on these grapes and the result is a Vendange Tardive style wine.                                                                                                                          12/2008: despite the high indice (5), most people would question our decision not to label this wine Vendange Tardive!  Right from the beginning, this wine showed great balance, fine acidity and delicate aromatic expression (honey, bee wax…). In fact, I think this wine is so delicious today that we perhaps feared that it would be stored away if labelled VT and not enjoyed today!

Gewurztraminer

Bottling date : 9/2008, Alcohol: 15.4° alc,

Residual sweetness: 14 g/l

Yields: 45 hl/ha, Optimum drinking period : 2009-2019

Average age of the vines : 29 years Terroir

 : gravely soil on valley floor, marl limestone

Indice 2

Like all previous years, this gewürztraminer mostly originates from the Herrenweg vineyard. We added some grapes from the Heimbourg and Wintzenheim in order to complete the cask. 2007 had the ideal type of climate profile that suited perfectly this complicated grape variety: early flowering, cool summer which prolonged the ripening process and then perfect dry and sunny weather to concentrate flavors and bring a lot of richness to the grapes.  Before August, we feared that it would be a too precocious vintage, but in fact 2007 had an extremely long growing season, giving strong spicy flavors to the gewürztraminer. Better than 2005? I think so…                                                                                                   11/2008: a relatively fast and easy fermentation produced a powerful intense gewürztraminer. The nose is a perfect  combination of the classic ancient rose, litchi fruits and more complex spicy, peppery, new leather aromas. It really is very powerful and profound. The palate is of no surprise at this stage. The gravely soil allows the aromas to be very expressive at an early stage, so there is no need to wait to enjoy this wine. There is some roundness, mostly on the middle of the palate, but high ripeness and cool summer also mean more natural phenols and acidity, so the finish is clean and tight. This wine will be perfect with poultry, smoked food, onion pie, turkey, cheese, and of course anything spicy that needs the extra factor in the wine….

 

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg

Bottling date: 9/2008 Alcohol: 14° alc Residual sweetness: 54 g/l

Yields: 30 hl/haOptimum drinking period: 2011-2027+

Average age of vines: planted in 1983 Surface: 1 ha

Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing west, severe slope.

Indice 5

 

Located on the lower west facing part of the Heimbourg, the gewürztraminer was chosen there because the soil is richer and slightly more protected from the winds. We thought that it would also be interesting to see this grape variety in a late ripening situation, perhaps perfect also for noble rot, and capable of keeping good acidity. In 2007, it took the intense sun of end of August and September to allow those grapes to finally reach some excellent ripeness level. October brought a finishing touch, allowing the noble rot to develop and intensify the flavor of the grapes.  Gewurztraminer is perhaps a grape that can reach quickly a high alcohol richness, it nonetheless needs a long maturation time in order to ripen the tannins and allow the aromatics to become complex. The fermentation was slow and the wine kept a lot of residual sweetness. 2/2009: the nose is typical of a late harvested gewürztraminer: it shows a combination of floral aromas and lots of honey, spices and some white pepper. Perhaps still a little bit reductive, due to long lees contact, this Heimbourg will take some time to fully wake up. The palate comes as a surprise, because the nose doesn’t indicate that it will be that rich. The finish is elegant, round and fresh. Again, this wine illustrates how well balanced 2007 is.

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2 responses to “BEST WHITE WINE MAKER ON THE PLANET? WE THINK SO!

  • JimmyBean

    I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  • Bill Bartmann

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

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