Le Millésime 2007
(Notes by Olivier Humbrecht)
2007 is my 18th harvest, and I still cannot compare this vintage with a previous one! This vintage has a very interesting climatic profile, and has shaped some stunning and various styles of wines.
Bud break was extremely early, starting the end of March in most areas. By middle of April, all vineyards had small green leaves and were roughly 2-3 weeks ahead. April and May were very warm and dry, causing an exceptionally early flowering, similar to 2003. The flowering went quickly, producing large homogenous clusters. In June, July and especially August, warm periods alternated with cooler and more humid days. Mid July, the harvest was forecasted for the end of August, but, gradually, as grapes took more time to ripen under cooler August conditions, the beginning of the harvest was pushed back early September.
The constant humidity and important rainfalls created difficult working conditions in the vineyards throughout summer. It was a challenge to be able to use every dry period to spray the vines. The biodynamic preparations and plants decoctions helped us not to increase the quantity of spraying products and their frequency. Of course there was some mildew on the top young leaves, but nothing that would interfere with the quality. At the end of August, the weather turned much drier and warmer, allowing the grapes to reach good concentration and still keep a fierce acidity and excellent health condition.
We started harvesting on our estate very early on September 7th and the dry climate allowed us to spread the harvest until mid October, so we could profit from the potential of this extraordinary vintage. The noble rot started to spread over the grapes towards the end of September, especially on Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.
In 2007, the grapes were allowed a very long growing season without any heat or draught stress in summer, and enjoyed cool sunny days in September/October. How better can it be? The grapes stayed healthy, packed with high acidity levels, ripening slowly, developing complex aromatics. Yes, 2007 is a great vintage!
More than any other vintage, it was important to adapt to the specific climatic conditions. Vineyards were ploughed early, to avoid too much competition with the growing grass during the dry periods of April and May, but with the rainfalls becoming significantly more and more important, we allowed grass to grow in the vineyards, so we could enter in the vineyards in any weather. The previous years investments in smaller, lighter caterpillar tractors were very useful in 2007. They do not create compaction and we can enter vineyards even if the soils are very slippery and fragile. Disease control (especially mildew) was crucial. This fungus develops at night, with 100% humidity and above a certain temperature. All those conditions were met most days in summer 2007. Problems occurred when there was a break in the spraying cadence, due to the fact that sometimes it involved working week ends, early or late during the day and when sometimes heavier machines couldn’t enter the vineyards after heavy rains. In organic/biodynamic cultivation, we use Bordeaux mix highly diluted (Copper sulphate). As we do not want to spray too much copper, it is often mixed up with other plants decoctions or preparations in order to make the vines more resistant and able to defend itself alone. However, using only light dosage meant that we sometimes had to spray as often as every week!
The fact that the grapes remained healthy with great acidity allowed us to produce very dry wines in 2007, especially for the Riesling wines. Anything harvested around mid September usually turned out to ferment very dry or close to be very dry (under 5g/l RS). We had almost considered labelling some wines with an indice 0 (usually it goes from 1 to 5, 1 being the driest). The crop is slightly larger than usual, but due to the exceptional quality, we won’t complain. Our AOC Alsace wines averaged 47hl/ha, and our Grand Cru 31hl/ha.
2007 is yet another exciting vintage and one that proved that biodynamic farming makes sense!
Indice: level of sweetness on the palate. This note combines the sweetness, acidity, alcohol and overall structure of the wine. It ranges from 1 to 5. 1: technically dry or tasting dry. 2: not technically dry, but sweetness not apparent on the palate. Some tasters might find some roundness on the finish. 3: medium sweetness, especially present when the wine is young and might gradually disappear with the ageing. 4: Sweet wine 5: High sweetness, VT in richness without the usual botrytis
Pinot d’Alsace 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.7° alc; Residual sweetness: 2 g/l; Yields: 75 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009/2015; Average age of the vines: 32 years; Surface: 1.2 ha; Terroir: Oligocene Calcareous and gravely soil. Indice 1.
Since 2004, this wine is now made from grapes growing on the gravely soils of the Herrenwegvineyard (Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc) and red calcareous limestone of the Rotenberg (Auxerrois). Both vineyards represent the same surface and the Auxerrois grape accounts for 70% of the wine. If everybody knows Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, even if it an important grape variety in Alsace, is not as well known. Most non professional would confuse a vine of Auxerrois with Chardonnay! However, they may be look-alikes (except for a small detail on the leaf), but the wines are quite different. Auxerrois is more aromatic, slightly less precocious than Chardonnay, but much richer than Pinot Blanc. Both Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois are meant to be blended together! In 2007, these grapes ripened perfectly and the wine fermented completely dry.
12/2008: the Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc take a lot of aromatics from the fermentation and after from long lees contact. The 2007 shows some minerality on the nose, quickly underlined by more toasty, bread crust, nutty flavours, and after some air contact, opens up to more fruity aromas. The structure is quite powerful and this wine shows a long finish. A very healthy crop means also a stricter structure. It is a wonderful food wine, bone dry, but shows a nice roundness.
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 12.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 12 g/l; Yields: 50 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009/2019; Average age of the vines: 18 years; Surface: 2.4 ha; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous (Jurassic) facing south and east. Indice 2.
Zind is in fact classified as ‘vin de table’ since 2001, because it contains some Chardonnay which is not allowed in the Alsace AOC. All the Auxerrois grapes (35%) and the Chardonnay grapes (65%) in this wine are coming from the Clos Windsbuhl vineyard in Hunawihr. The pure calcareous soil, later ripening climate and slightly higher altitude make it possible to reach nice ripeness while keeping zesty acidity and healthy grapes. The Clos Windsbuhl was harvested significantly later than our Pinot d’Alsace and with a higher acidity. Fermentation was therefore slower (12 months) and this wine kept a small amount of residual sweetness.
12/2008: the influence of the Clos Windsbuhl vineyard is very obvious in this wine. It feels very crisp with clear minerality on the nose. It eventually opens up to more exotic flavours after a while. The palate starts with vibrant and crisp acidity but then opens up to an attractive round middle. At this stage, this wine is still hesitating between strong stony minerals and ripe fruity influences. The long lees contact certainly made it more austere at first, but also allowed the palate to become much more complex. The medium alcohol power allows this wine to remain highly drinkable and elegant. There is some roundness on the finish, but perfectly balanced with acidity.
Clos Windsbuhl 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 1.7 g/l; Yields: 35 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009/2019; Average age of the vines: 18 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous (Jurassic) facing south. Indice 1.
Some vintages, when the Chardonnay grapes from the Clos Windsbuhl show excellent ripeness and perfect health, we decide to put aside a small amount aside, from the middle part of the vineyard (the poorest and nicest) and vinify it in small barrels. This wine receives almost no sulfites (40ppm total after bottling), is never pumped (everything is done by gravity), never fined and never filtered (so expect some sediments). It is as close to natural as possible. The 2007 was made in 8 barriques which already had 2 to 4 wines, in order to avoid to obvious wood character and too much oxidation. We do not believe so much in ‘bâtonnage’ (lees steering) as it tends to over age the wines too quickly, but in compensation, we left this wine its entire life on the gross lees.
12/2008: the nose is already quite explosive. It shows lots of ripe fruits (apples, pears, peach) and the classic nutty/biscuit character typical of Chardonnay having had long lees contact. The palate is more revealing the Windsbuhl character today: perfectly dry, showing great acidity and nice salty minerals on the finish.
Muscat Herrenweg de Turckheim 2007
Bottling date: 7/2008, Alcohol: 13.9° alc, Residual sweetness: 2.2 g/l; Yields: 55 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009-2010; Average age of the vines: 28 years; Surface: 0.36 ha; Terroir: Gravely/silt; 75% Muscat d’Alsace, 25% Ottonel. Indice 1.
Muscat is the typical grape that will perform better in a vintage not to warm at the beginning, in order to keep good acidity and fruity aromas, and then will benefit from a nice dry and sunny period before harvest, like in 2007! The Herrenweg vineyard enjoys precocious growing conditions (lighter well drained soil and dry climate) and therefore usually performs better in vintages with more summer rains, again like 2007. In the past decade, we could see the gradual decline in quality of the Muscat Ottonel grapes and the gradually increasing quality of the later ripening Muscat d’Alsace (or Muscat Petits Grains) that is capable of keeping a much better acidity. With increased plantations of Muscat in the Herrenweg, we now have a much higher proportion of the later grape, for the benefit of the structure and ageing potential of this wine. This vineyard was harvested very healthy and the wine fermented quickly, keeping no residual sweetness. Because of the extreme purity of this vintage, a lot of wines were either never racked or racked very late, like this wine, allowing full lees autolysis. We gain more stability, higher ageing potential and more minerality expression in the wine, but also such wines will offer less obvious fruity aromas in their youth.
12/2008: the nose is gradually opening up and I am persuaded that it will be there in a few months. It is still today an interesting battle between restraint minerals, quite astonishing for the Herrenweg, and more evident grapy Muscat flavours. The palate is perfectly dry, but far from green or tight, it offers a long dry harmonious finish.
Muscat Goldert 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alc: 12.8 ° alc; RS: 6 g/l; Yields: 56 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022+; Average age of the vines: 20 years; Surface: 0.36 ha; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous, facing East, gentle slope. 90 % Muscat d’Alsace, 10 % Ottonel. Indice 1
The Goldert vineyard enjoys a great reputation for Muscat grapes for a long time. The Muscat d’Alsace planted in the Goldert acquires a great structure. Thanks to the pure calcareous soil and cooler later ripening climate, it is possible to harvest this usually fast ripening grape much later and allow more interesting physiological ripening. In 2007, the crop had the right ripeness to allow the yeast to ferment this wine quite dry. Tasted blind, it is possible to confuse the Goldert 2007 with a Riesling such is the minerality and acid structure high in this wine. The fermentation was relatively quick and this wine was bottled directly from its total lees.
12/2008: at this early stage, it is important to allow this wine to breath. A few hours exposed to the air will only enhance the character and aromatic expression, which are still quite restraint and ‘serious’ at this early stage. The palate will reveal an interesting complexity. It isn’t frequent that we are capable of making Muscat that taste that dry with such a high minerality. It is perhaps hard to believe, but we are persuaded that this wine will need 10 years to reach its full aromatic potential… Before that, it can be appreciated the same way as Riesling.
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 12.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 9 g/l; Yields: 75 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2019; Average age of the vines: 28 years; Surface: 1.3ha, Terroir : gravely/silt on valley floor and calcareous hillsides; Indice 1
September 2007 was a very dry month, with nice temperatures but cool nights. The Riesling grape in general on our estate ripened ideally for a long time, but never went into over ripeness. Perfect health, vibrant acidity and good phenolic ripeness mean that the Rieslings are dry, nervous, very mineral and racy in 2007. This wine mostly originates from gravely soils from the Herrenweg vineyard located in the warm village of Turckheim, but we also added some richer limestone vineyards to complete the cask. This explains why it opens quickly in its youth, showing attractive fruity flavours, but if kept for a few years, it will also develop serious minerality. Our aim was to be able to harvest an elegant potentially dry Riesling. Not having any noble rot developing was a serious help, as the richness didn’t skyrocket as time passed. The fermentation was quite lazy, which explains the later bottling date, but eventually the yeast managed to transform most of the sweetness.
11/2008: still on its fine lees, but already showing classic vibrant Riesling aromas, full of fresh flowers, wet stones and a hint of minerals. The palate is elegant, harmonious, feels completely dry and finished on a refreshing acidity. Exactly what this Riesling should be!
Riesling Turckheim 2007
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 those vineyards can be located in some very good single vineyard, 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 help 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 Gueberschwihr 2007
Bottling: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.1 °alc; Residual sweetness: 4.8 g/l; Yields: 68 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period 2010-2020; Average age of vines: 33 years; Surface: .1.2 ha; Terroir: Limestone/calcareous/siliceous, facing East and South. Gentle slope; Indice 1
Comparing our two Riesling Turckheim and Gueberschwihr always demonstrate that even at ‘village’ level, the origin can influence strongly the wines. Gueberschwihr is a much cooler, less precocious area, with much richer and deeper soils. Riesling grapes grow and mature slower in Gueberschwihr and, although the acidity level is the same, it always feels stricter and leaner than the Turckheim. The 2007 was harvested very healthy and with excellent ripeness, allowing a steady fermentation and an almost bone dry structure. Everything went perfectly well in this vineyard, but back in July 2007, we really feared for massive mildew attacks, as the vineyards that go into this wine are located on rich mid-slope areas, capable of retaining humidity and heat, which are the two components necessary for this disease to develop. I know that most bottles will be drunk at young age, but this wine will age very nicely and should develop into a very aromatic mineral style after 6/8 years.
12/2008: classic mineral nose, with some hints of almond, peach fruits. The palate is actually quite open for Gueberschwihr and exhibit an attractive ‘juicy’ acidity. Each sip of this wine leads to another one… It finishes dry with a mineral after taste.
Riesling Thann 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 12.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 8 g/l; Yields: 48 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022+; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks, facing south, very steep slope. Indice 2
My father bought the Clos Saint Urbain in the Rangen vineyard in 1977, and after that date, we continued to purchase vineyards in the Rangen until we were able to recreate that historic vineyard in 1989. Some parcels were planted during this period and because this vineyard offers incredibly difficult growing conditions (very steep slope, poor volcanic rocky soil, warm full south exposure), it takes a long time for younger vines to establish themselves. We usually declassify these vines, but in very good vintages, we would separate the wine and called it Thann, from the name of the village where the Rangen is located. In 2007, the grapes showed perfect health conditions and excellent ripeness. The fermentation was slow, adding a lot of complexity to the wine.
11/2008: after the bottling, this wine really opened up. It is clearly easy to see the influence of the volcanic soil on the aromas: there is a lot of flinty, mineral character that mixes with the Riesling fruit. The palate is delicate and elegant. The medium alcohol allows this wine to be very easy to serve with food. There is some roundness on the finish that is perfectly balanced with a great acidity. This wine should go very well with poultry, smoked fish, scallops, langoustines… and there is no hurry in drinking it.
Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.5°alc; Residual sweetness: 9.8 g/l; Yields: 55 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009-2019; Average age of the vines: 32 years; Surface:2.1 ha; Terroir: gravely soil/silt; Indice 1
It might be hard to believe, but often Herrenweg vines will perform better if summer is slightly cooler and less dry. This vineyard is located on a poor gravely alluvial soil, very well drained, at the end of one of the deepest valley in Alsace (Munster). It also enjoys a very dry climate throughout the year, reinforced by regular light winds coming from the mountains. The higher than normal July rainfalls, followed by warmer and drier months of September and October, were perfect for this vineyard in 2007. It allowed the grapes to keep a high acidity and ripen to perfection. This Riesling took a long time to ferment and we were able to rack this wine only just before the 2008 harvest! As we always allow the wines to sediment and clarify naturally, it will be bottled only in February 2009.
12/2008: this is so typical Herrenweg Riesling: very expressive and aromatic white fruits (peach, pears) with hints of flowers. Certainly this style explains the success of Turckheim in the past! Despite it is still on lees as I write these lines, the palate is already showing everything. It is delicate, well balanced with an attractive acidity and dry fruity finish. This is perhaps the least lean style in 2007!
Riesling Clos Häuserer 2007
Bottling: 2/2009; Alcohol: 12.5 ° alc; Residual sweetness: 7 g/l; 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 the slope 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 a lot of the 2001 vintage…
Riesling Heimbourg 2007
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 13.56° alc; Residual sweetness: 10.2 g/l; Yields: 44 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022; Average age of the vines: 13 years; Surface: 1.06 ha; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing south, southwest, steep slope. Indice 2
The south west side of the Heimbourg vineyard is a really an obvious place for Riesling: warm very steep south facing vineyard, excellent drainage and very rocky soil and relatively poor soil despite the limestone origin (and therefore also quite cool temperatures at root level). The Riesling Heimbourg is still quite a young vineyard, but was planted on a site abandoned since WW2 and only cultivated in Bio-Dynamie. The root system and overall growth of these vines are quite exceptional, so there is no wonder that these vines behave like much older plants. A vine doesn’t become a better plant as it grows older, but with age the root system gets deeper, in poorer part of the soil and less affected by surface climate, which means better wine at the end. It is more difficult to achieve this with young vines, but in some situation, especially on hillsides, it can happen earlier. The 2007; like any other Riesling in this vintage, was harvested very healthy, at a reasonable maturity and fermented very slowly.
12/2008: this wine is really in the continuity of the previous vintages. The nose is already very fruity and open, showing ripe peach, pear, honey flavours. Because the crop was also very healthy, the minerals are more obvious on the nose and palate at this early stage. The palate is incredibly elegant and silky. The slight sweetness is perfectly balanced with a ripe juicy acidity. It feels very easy to drink! It still will go very well with most fish courses, scallops, langoustines… especially if slightly spicy.
Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.1° alc; Residual sweetness: 1.4 g/l; Yields: 49 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2032+; Average age of the vines: 33 years; Surface: 0.9 ha; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous (Jurassic), facing southeast, medium/steep slope. Indice 1.
The Clos Windsbuhl is located at the top of the village of Hunawihr, on the scenic bicycle track that links Riquewihr to Ribeauvillé. The higher altitude, poor rocky calcareous soil and proximity of the forest make it a very slow ripening area, despite the steep slope and south to east facing. The Riesling Windsbuhl is always one of the last vineyard to be harvested, and in 2007, it was the last Riesling picked on our estate early October. The grapes were perhaps as healthy as we ever been able to harvest on the Windsbuhl, showing a beautiful ripe yellow green colour, with these little black dots, so typical on Riesling clusters. All conditions were united for a steady fast fermentation, but still, we were quite surprised to see that this wine fermented completely dry in less than a few weeks.
12/2008: this wine feels like a dangerous weapon: steely, sharp, crisp, full of mineral quality. Definitely not a beginner’s style! The nose is expressive and shows beautiful wet stones aromatics, but it is far from more fruity/honeyed Riesling style. The mouth is as dry as it could possibly be. The acidity is very sharp, but also so ripe and mineralized, that it doesn’t make the wine taste hard or green on the palate. Surely this should be enjoyed in a few years and has an incredible future ahead.
Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2007
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 13.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 2 g/l; Yields: 36 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2032+; Average age of the vines: 45 years; Surface: 2.1 ha; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks, facing south, very steep slope. Indice 1
The Rangen vineyard is located in the village of Thann, at the extreme south end of the Alsace wine road, which runs over 80 miles on the East side of the Vosges Mountains. This part of Alsace is the highest in elevation, which explains the higher than normal altitude of this vineyard (350m to 450m). The proximity of the mountains and strong valley winds increase the late ripening character of this Grand Cru, which is only compensated later in summer and autumn by the capacity of the very steep slope, full south facing exposure and warm rocky volcanic soil to capture sun energy. Ultimately, while always being the last vineyard to budbreak and flower, the Rangen is capable of catching up late in the season, due to its extraordinary topography and presence of the river at the bottom. The Riesling Rangen was harvested early October. The small golden clusters were perfectly healthy and achieved excellent ripeness. The fermentation was quite slow for Rangen, as it lasted almost one year, but eventually the wild yeasts managed to transform all the sugar in the wine.
12/2008: the nose is very typical of Rangen. It shows lots of smoke, flinty aromas, which almost appear reductive or at least very mineral. The nose says it clearly: this is Rangen wine, as tough as it can be at this early stage and as dry as possible. Certainly the bottling will open the wine, as it is still on lees today! The palate is very elegant and has just the right power to match the volcanic character. The finish is quite long, with almost smoky/grilled flavours. The ripe acidity brings elegance. This is a wine full of character and personality!
Riesling Brand 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 9 g/l; Yields: 35 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2032; Average age of the vines: 25 years; Surface: 1 ha; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 2
The vineyards that produced this wine are located on the part of the Brand called ‘Steinglitz’. This area is located in the heart of the Grand Cru, facing full south on a steep slope, which accentuate the natural drainage. What makes this area special is the composition of the soil: granite biotite is granite that contains both white and black micas. White mica is quite inert (silicium), but black mica contains a lot of minerals and can produce clay while being decomposed by micro-organisms. Rainfalls will eventually drain these elements in deeper cracks in the soil. As long as the roots of the vines do not reach them, the wines will not express true Brand character! Older vines will reach these elements, but more importantly, good biodynamic practices will help the roots grow deeper and reach these layers, in order to acquire complex minerality. In 2007, these grapes were harvested very ripe with a beautiful mature acidity.. Fermentation was fast and almost complete with little residual sweetness.
11/2008: the nose is already very expressive and aromatic, revealing the fruity style of the Brand vineyard. It shows lots of white flower, lime-tree, wet stones minerals. The soil influence is of course more obvious on the palate, where a delicate saltiness adds some character and gives a more restraint style, more typical of Riesling. The palate is showing great balance between the acidity and the fruity palate. The finish tastes quite dry, there are some residual sweetness somewhere, but well hidden!
Riesling Brand Vieilles Vignes 2007
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 13.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 18 g/l; Yields: 35 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2032+; Average age of the vines: 57 years; Surface: 0.9 ha; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 3.
Today, we cultivate 7 parcels of vineyards, for a total of 2.4ha, in the Grand Cru Brand. It would be easy to put all of them into one single wine, but this is not the solution we opted for. The Brand is a complex vineyard, with subtle soil variations (composition of the granite) and different interaction potential with the vines according to their age. Obviously, our Brand ‘Vieilles Vignes’ comes from our oldest vines on the Brand (we are not actually sure of their age, probably before WW2, but in doubt, we say they are from 1950) and also from the area in Brand which has some marl limestone deep under the granite (Schneckeslbourg). This soil characteristic allows these vines to be more draught resistant, capable to reach very high ripeness levels and also develop some noble rot, even in very dry vintages like 2007. This vineyard is our oldest and nicest massal Riesling selection on the estate, so we also use it as a source of high quality buds for our new plantations. In 2007, the grapes were harvested at a higher ripeness than any other Riesling, which also explain the higher sweetness of this wine.
12/2008: the nose already appears very open, showing lots of ripe white fruits (pears, peach, and apples) and delicate honey sweetness. I know that it is impossible to detect tactile sensation on the nose, but if one wine would give the sensation of velvet, it would be this one. The palate feels unctuous, round, velvety, with more honeyed character and light wet stone minerality. The finish is surprisingly much drier than expected, thanks to a beautiful acidity. This is by far our richest Riesling in 2007, but also the most elegant.
Pinot-Gris Calcaire 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 14.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 29 g/l; Yields: 54 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2025+; Average age of the vines: 19 years; Surface: 0.8 ha; Terroir: calcareous-muchelkalk, South & West facing, steep slope. Indice 3.
We started this ‘cuvée’ (I do hate this formula!) in 2006. We didn’t know how to call a blend of two vineyards from different villages, but as both were located on calcareous soil types, we named the cask ‘Calcaire’! In 2007, we decided to continue with this wine, but this time, it only comes from one vineyard: young vines planted between 1988 and 1992 on the Clos Windsbuhl in Hunawihr. Only the old vines are used to produce the Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl. The grapes were harvested very ripe, with a significant presence of noble rot. The fermentation was medium fast (3 months), keeping some sweetness in the wine. 19 years vines do produce very interesting wines, but often cannot compare with much older ones, even if harvested with the same ripeness.
12/2008: this wine doesn’t betray its origin. The nose is already fully open, showing lots of honey flavours, citrus fruit, melon, apricots… The high ripeness of the grapes and presence of noble rot bring a small extravagant character, which is firmly controlled on the palate by the textbook acidity of the Windsbuhl. The finish is long, with a nice compromise between some sweetness and great structure.
Pinot-Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim 2007
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 flavours. 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 Vieilles Vignes 2007
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 grand father 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!
Pinot-Gris Heimbourg 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 13.95° alc; Residual sweetness: 1.9 g/l; Yields: 19 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2019+; Average age of the vines: 22 years; Terroir: calcareous and marl, facing west – North West; Indice 1
The Pinot Gris is planted on the top west facing part of the Heimbourg hillside. Just like the Rotenberg, it enjoys slow ripening conditions and usually produces very small crop, because the calcareous soil is very rocky and poor in organic elements in this area. The Heimbourg vineyard was also our only vineyard that was on the edge of the terrible hailstorm that decimated the Bennwihr/Mittelwihr/Sigolsheim area mid-June 2007. We lost around 40% of our potential crop in a few minutes. Fortunately, the storm didn’t progress to the neighbouring vineyards of Brand or Clos Jebsal or the rest of the Heimbourg! There was of course no impact on quality because the grapes were just finishing flowering, but the vines were shocked! In order to avoid reducing to much the yields, we decided to harvest these small surviving grapes earlier than usual, completely healthy. The result is a wine that was able to ferment to the end completely dry. We like the result a lot, and this has opened our minds to different options for this vineyard.
2/2009: at first quite closed, this wine has now gradually opened up on the nose. It shows smoky, nutty and almond flavours. The minerality of the calcareous soil shows well. The palate is really very dry, enhanced by good acidity and a nice power. This wine demonstrates how a very low yield can compensate higher alcohol richness. It definitely needs more time.
Pinot-Gris Rotenberg 2007
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 Clos Windsbuhl 2007
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 15.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 9 g/l; Yields: 30 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2025+; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Surface: 2.2 ha; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 2.
The Clos Windsbuhl is our biggest single vineyard: slightly above 6ha, in one piece, on a homogenous old calcareous soil, overlooking the village of Hunawihr on a south to east exposure. The good drainage quality, high lime content and higher altitude made us think that Pinot Gris should also grow greatly in the Windsbuhl. Today, there is 2.5ha of Pinot Gris, out of which half of them are old vines, which are used to produce this wine. The 2007 vintage was a low botrytis vintage for the Windsbuhl. Pinot Gris usually allows for massive botrytis development if harvested late, but the dry and cool weather conditions of 2007 stopped the noble rot. Interestingly, the older vines showed less noble rot than the younger vines, mostly because the crop was smaller and the vines less vigorous. After a very long fermentation (the longer in 2007 after the SGNs), this wine eventually finished as dry as possible.
12/2008: watching this wine fermenting was like watching a movie in slow motion! Many times we thought that it would stop, keeping a lot of sweetness. Eventually after 12 months of activity, the result is a powerful, high acid, long mineral wine. Both the nose and palate show toasted, tea leaves, chalky and some fruits flavours. Quite hard to describe, but very intense and complex. This isn’t a classic semi dry style wine. The finish appears to be drier than the residual sweetness would suggest. Eventually, this wine will become a fantastic food wine.
Pinot-Gris Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 15° alc; Residual sweetness: 22.5 g/l; Yields: 22 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2025+; Average age of the vines: 38 years; Surface: 2.5 ha; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, very steep slope. Indice 3
The Rangen vineyard enjoys some of the most extreme but also interesting viticulture conditions imaginable: higher altitude, late ripening climate, steep south facing slope, aggressive acidic soil made of poor volcanic sediments and harsh work condition. This vineyard has the formidable capacity to concentrate the grapes late in season, when the heat of summer is finished, it feels like August is still on in September and October. In 2007, there was some interesting noble rot development early October. We could have perhaps left the grapes longer in order to produce some late harvest style, but the weather was so fantastic and the grapes looked so nicely ripe, with dark copper colour that we decided to harvest before the wine went too much in the sweet zone.
2/2009: the nose is showing a harmonious combination of smoke and flint flavours and some white fruit (pears, apricots). It is a gentle and powerful giant, but very civilized and balanced wine. The sweetness shows on the palate, but thanks to a great acidity and fresh structure, it should blend in very quickly and gradually reveal even more the volcanic character.
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 flavours and bring a lot of richness to the grapes. Before August, we feared it would be a too precocious vintage, but in fact 2007 had an extremely long growing season, giving strong spicy flavours 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 Turckheim 2007
Bottling date: 9/2009; Alcohol: 15.1° alc; Residual sweetness: 38 g/l; Yields: 60 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period : 2009-2022; Average age of the vines : 26 years; Surface : 1.5 ha; Terroir : Gravely/silt soil on valley floor; Indice 3
Gewurztraminer really enjoyed perfect growing and maturation condition in 2007. This grape needs a long growing season, not too hot at the beginning in order to keep fruity aromas and good acidity that finishes with a nice warm period in order to complete the ripening process and reach good alcohol potential. The Turckheim Gewurztraminer is located in fact in the Herrenweg vineyard. It is a valley floor gravely soil, with excellent drainage and quite precocious. All the vineyards under 40 years old are used to produce this wine. Usually, it is a nice aromatic elegant style of Gewurztraminer. In 2007, the extreme ripeness of the grapes made it a really powerful aromatic wine.
11/2008: the fermentation was quite quick and finished with a powerful fruity nose. There is no mistake here, it is intense Gewurztraminer! The wine literally explodes with old roses aromas, litchi fruit and spices. The high alcohol is balanced on the palate with good acidity and some sweetness. It is round, velvety and powerful, with a long lasting finish. If drunk young, it will go very well with cheeses, terrines or on its own, as it is difficult to resist to the flavours of this wine. If one could be a little bit patient, it will be perfect with poultry, goose, smoked/grilled food, spicy food…
Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 12.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 61 g/l; Yields: 51 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2009-2025+; Average age of the vines: 50 years; Surface: 2.1 ha; Terroir: gravely soil and calcareous marls; Indice 5
The gewürztraminer Wintzenheim is now traditionally made from a blend of our young vines from the Hengst vineyard (planted in 1978 and 1985!) and a very old vineyard located on the gravely valley floor soils near the village of Wintzenheim (planted in 1947). The gravely soils brings the richness and often quite a lot of noble rot, while the calcareous/marl soil contributes more towards the structure, acidity and ageing potential of this wine. It never is as quite aromatic as the Turckheim, but often ages better and develops more spicy flavours. In 2007, both vineyards were harvested at a very high level of ripeness and significant noble rot, certainly influencing the fermentation speed and profile. The late vintage character made the fermentation stop at a lower than usual alcohol level and quite high sweetness, typical of a Vendange Tardive.
2/2009: the nose is surprisingly already mineral and dense. This is not the usual floral type gewürztraminer. It shows rich leather, spicy, nutmeg aromas. The first sensation on the palate is delicacy and harmony. The lower than usual alcohol allows the wine to behave gently. There is sufficient back bone and acidity to allow the important residual to taste harmonious and elegant. This wine appears lighter than one would expect, but the real richness shows on the long finish.
Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 14.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 26 g/l; Yields: 61 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2025+; Average age of vines: 24 years; Surface: 0.2 ha; Terroir: calcareous limestone; Indice 3
Today, our entire Gueberschwihr gewürztraminer comes from one little vineyard located a stone throw from the Goldert vineyard. A short distance, but quite a different soil! Here, the calcareous rock is less dominant and there is more organic richness, which explains higher yields and not quite the same richness than its famous neighbour. However, the vines have now reached a nice mature age and are capable of producing some nice rich grapes. In 2007, this microscopic parcel produced some rich wine, with only a hint of noble rot and quite high acidity for this grape variety. The fermentation took some time and produced a silky textured wine.
2/2009: the nose is extremely aromatic, and almost not characteristic of a gewürztraminer, with lots of white flowers and lilies. I must confess that this wine was fermenting in the cask where the Riesling Brand 2006 SGN was ageing just before, and somehow I wonder if some of the Riesling pungent aromas didn’t survived in this cask. The palate is round, but not at all excessively sweet, and finishes on a delicate harmony. This is a very attractive wine.
Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 15.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 35 g/l; Yields: 41 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022; Average age of the vines: 54 years; Surface: 2 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor; Indice 3
There is no doubt that 2007 had the perfect climate and vintage condition for gewürztraminer in the gravely/silt soils of the Herrenweg. Usually, these alluvial soils would suffer from excessive heat and too much stress, as they have a natural good drainage and can warm up very quickly. Personally I would always prefer a vintage with a little too much water in summer than not enough in these vineyards. However, some nice heat and sunshine is always welcomed at harvest time, and this is exactly what happened in 2007. It explained a perfect physiological growth and high maturity, as well as some good noble rot development on some of the oldest vines.
2/2009: the nose shows ultra typical intense rich flowery nose (old roses, geranium) and litchi fruit. With time, there is more obvious spicy flavours developing, but there is no doubt at all on the nose, this is intense rich gewürztraminer. The palate confirms simply everything the nose already showed before. There is perhaps a nice sensation of minerality on the palate, which comes certainly also from the noble bitterness and high concentration of the grapes.
Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim Vieilles Vignes 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 15.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 42 g/l; Yields: 30 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2025; Average age of the vines: 61 years; Surface: 0.45 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor; Indice 4
In 2006, we decided to vinify separately some of our oldest vineyards amongst the oldest ones we have in the Herrenweg. The result was quite amazing. To be honest, it isn’t just the little age difference with the Herrenweg wine that explain the big difference between the two wines. These ‘older vines’ are also located on the poorest and deepest gravely soil part of the Herrenweg. The result is more ripeness and concentration and also more intensity and complexity. Of course, we wouldn’t separate these vines if we needed them to complete the classic Herrenweg cask. The fermentation, like most Gewürztraminer in 2007, was powerful and fast. There is some residual sweetness, but they had to be expected at this level of ripeness.
2/2009: intense and seductive nose. Not as open and easy, which is actually a very good sign, it shows complex old roses, toffee, pepper aromas. The palate is big and luscious upfront, but develops into a harmonious finish. Of course residual sweetness is important, but not dominating the wine. This is Herrenweg at its best and not a wine for wimps…
Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 14° alc; Residual sweetness: 54 g/l; Yields: 30 hl/ha; Optimum 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 flavour 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.
Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 2007
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: 12.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 74g/l; Yields: 52 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2032+; Average age: 37 years; Surface: 0.9 ha; Terroir: : Muschelkalk calcareous, south to southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 5.
The Clos Windsbuhl vineyard enjoys long cool and late ripening conditions. As gewürztraminer is a grape variety that enjoys some sun and heat just before the harvest, we always worry that it will struggle to reach perfect ripeness in this vineyard. Fortunately we always worry for nothing! Certainly the perfect exposure and poor calcareous rocky soil must partly compensate the cooler climate, but more importantly, the longer ripening process allows the grapes to develop a huge aromatic complexity while retaining great structure. 2007 was partially botrytised and therefore the grapes reached very high ripeness level with one of the highest acidity for this grape. The fermentation was the slowest, keeping a large amount of residual sweetness with a lower than usual alcohol level and it is not surprising that this was the last gewürztraminer bottled in 2007, at the exception of the SGNs.
2/2009: the nose is so open and aromatic that it is hard to believe it comes from the Clos Windsbuhl. This is an extremely aromatic wine, showing lots of exotic fruits, litchi, and jasmine flowers. It would sound almost too much without the racy and elegant character of the Clos Windsbuhl. The palate shows extreme elegance. The sweetness is very well present, especially on the finish, but it tastes also so smooth and elegant. The higher acidity is there to balance the whole palate. It clearly has a late harvest style and I start to wonder why we didn’t classify this one as such… perhaps because it really is so enjoyable now!
Gewurztraminer Hengst 2007
Bottling date : 9/2008; Alc: 15.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 26 g/l; Yields: 29 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period : 2011-2032+; Average age of the vines : 56 years; Surface : 1.42 ha; Terroir : Marl-Oligocene calcareous. South-south-east facing, medium to strong slope. Indice 3.
My grand father Emile Zind started to make wine from the Hengst vineyard in the late 1940’s. It was always one of his favourite vineyards. Today, we cultivate a vineyard that he planted in 1957 and another one my father acquired in 1978, but which planted before WWII. These two parcels are ideally located in the middle of the Grand Cru and enjoy a dry warm climate, typical of central Alsace, but also a soil which contains just enough marl to bring the balance the powerful calcareous base rock needs. Without some marl, the soil would be to warm and burn the acids of the grapes too quickly and would also allow a too precocious ripeness. The Hengst is characterized by slow ripening gewürztraminer grapes in a warm climate. These are hard conditions to find around the world, but this is why this grape variety is so well integrated in Alsace. The 2007 eventually developed beautiful botrytis, which was eventually selected to produce an SGN. This wines comes from grapes that were mostly healthy, hence a fast and furious fermentation… very Hengst style.
2/2009: the nose says it all: this is no easy rose water gewürztraminer, but a powerful, mineral/spicy packed wine. As always, this vineyard doesn’t allow the wine to be expressive on the nose in its youth, but on the palate, it is all intensity and length. The flavours are mineral driven, the sweetness is pushed to the background and the vineyard is there up front. It is a very long wine and would certainly seem too rich for most if the structure and ripe acidity wouldn’t bring certain elegance on the finish.
Gewurztraminer Goldert 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 15° alc; Residual sweetness: 47 g/l; Yields: 49 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2025+; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 0.6 ha; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous facing East. Gentle slope. Indice 4.
From a certain distance, the Goldert vineyard has a very discreet and low profile look. Its gentle east facing slope doesn’t look as dramatic as other Grand Cru sites. I always describe it as a ‘Burgundy’ style vineyard, because its quality comes from the very interesting rich marl/limestone soil. Of course, the cooler climate that characterizes the village of Gueberschwihr increases the late ripening effect of this vineyard, and also allows amazing noble rot development in some vintages. In 2007, the botrytis struck early October with enough intensity that we were able to produce an SGN. This wine is therefore made from a slightly more healthy selection, but still shows a huge ripeness. The fermentation was classic, and ended as far as the yeasts could go to.
2/2009: the nose shows with no detour the minerality of the Goldert soil. This is the really first gewürztraminer in the 2007 line up that is now dominated by more spicy, leathery aromas and where the varietal character is not obviously up front. The nose is more closed than the palate at this early stage. The mouth shows real power and intensity. The sweetness expresses itself more in terms of roundness and weight. This wine has even more to say in the future, so please, give it some time…
Gewurztraminer Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2007
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 16.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 22 g/l; Yields: 32 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2032+; Average age of the vines: 44 years; Surface: 0.5 ha; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, very steep slope; Indice 3
When first cultivating the Rangen in Thann, we almost doubted that this grape variety would be able to ripen in this extremely late ripening vineyard. The steep slope and southern exposure is misleading because it is in fact our coolest vineyard with the Clos Windsbuhl. Budbreak and flowering are always 2 weeks later than most of our other vineyards. Certainly the higher altitude (350m to 450m) and proximity of the mountains bring cooler air during spring, but then the sun driven topography and dark warm volcanic rock act like a turbo in autumn. Like a racing car, this vineyard keeps a low profile during summer and just days before the harvest, it overtakes everyone else. The botrytis adds an extra dimension, especially for the gewürztraminer which is located right above the river the runs on the bottom of the vineyard. In 2007, the botrytis was not as dramatic as in 2006, but enough intense to turn out a powerful wine. Not so sweet, because Rangen wines tend to ferment vigorously.
2/2009: this is another example of a great gewürztraminer that actually doesn’t taste like one. The vineyard influence is so powerful that it crushes the grape variety classic markers. The nose shows lots of smoke, flint and spices. Almost austere at this early stage. The palate cannot be mistaken with another grape: the power, richness and density are typical of gewürztraminer (and would clash if blended with a Riesling or Pinot Gris!) but again, the vineyard dominates the aromatics. It also shows great bitterness (good tannins are normal and necessary also in white wines) and strong saline feel on the finish. It feels quite dry, because this wine also has the highest acidity of all gewürztraminers in 2007, bringing fantastic balance. Please wait for this wine!
Pinot-Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim 2007 Vendange Tardive
Bottling date: 9/2008; Alcohol: 15.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 68 g/l; Yields: 37 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2022+; Average age of the vines: 16 years; Surface: 0.6 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor.
This wine was one of the first to be harvested in 2007! Vendange Tardive may mean ‘late harvest’, but in Alsace it means also that the grapes reached a certain ripeness level. If the vineyard is very precocious, which is the case of the warm gravely soils of the Herrenweg, the viticulture allows small yields and good bio-dynamic farming ensures that there is a homogenous physiologic ripeness, than it is possible to make such wines quite early. The Herrenweg may not have the same minerality and vineyard influence as other more prestigious areas, but the earlier harvest brings a youth and freshness which makes it very attractive and pleasurable to drink early. For once I say: enjoy it now if you feel like it!
2/2009: this is classic Pinot Gris late harvest nose: fruity, honeyed, apricots, quince jelly aromas. It is an inviting wine, very attractive and with no surprise on the palate. The sweetness is harmonious, the richness avoids the wine to be too soft and the youthful character, due to excellent acidity, brings an immediate pleasure. This is a perfect introduction to VTs!
Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2007 Vendange Tardive
Bottling date 2/2009; Alcohol: 11.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 95 g/l; Yields: 36 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2032+; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
The Clos Jebsal is certainly our most contrasted vineyard. It is located in the warmest and most precocious area in Alsace, enjoying a full south and steep exposure, but the roots grow on a cold rich, deep, heavy marl soil mixed with gypsum deposits and rocks. The soil compensates the effect of the climate and permits us to leave these Pinot Gris grapes a long time on the vines. This contrast also favours the development of noble rot. We have now admitted for a long time that the Clos Jebsal is always expressing itself as capable of producing rich late harvest wines (VTs and SGNs) every vintage. In 2007, the climate conditions were ideal for noble rot development, and because the weather was dry for a long period, we were able to do three different harvest selections: one Vendange Tardive and two different SGN, including one Trie Spéciale. Botrytis is never easy, and we often fear fermentation problems, but in 2007, the noble rot was perfect and fermentations were very slow, stopping at a low alcohol level, producing an elegant style of wine in harmony with the acidity.
2/2009: the nose is extremely elegant, showing soft aromas of vanilla, acacia honey, and some smoky flavours. Still quite closed and subtle, the fermentation flavours (brioche, nutty aromas) are still contrasting with the minerality of this vineyard. The palate is quite surprising. The lower than usual alcohol make it resembles more to a light SGN than a powerful VT. Very soft and elegant finish. This is clearly more a dessert wine.
Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2007 Sélection de Grains Nobles
Bottling date 9/2008; Alcohol: 9.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 227 g/l today; Yields: 15 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-god knows; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
This is the second SGN made in 2007 on this vineyard. The first selection was the richest (Trie Speciale) and this one is closer in style to a classic Clos Jebsal ‘Sélection de Grains Nobles’. This little Clos is capable to produce some of our richest and sweetest wines, but this wine is for me what a classic SGN should be from Alsace. The purity and quality of the noble rot was excellent in 2007. It allowed both sugar and acid concentration, without loosing elegant aromatics and without high volatile compounds. The fermentation was relatively fast in this wine (about 5 months) which allowed us to bottle it only a year after the harvest. Of course the finished alcohol is low in 2007 because acidities are extraordinary high.
2/2009: the nose is today showing a combination of classic minerals (wet stones) and luscious fruity flavours. The honey/waxy character is elegant as the botrytis is by far not overpowering the wine. The lower (but normal at this richness) alcohol level make the palate taste delicate and deliciously sweet. The sweetness is perfectly controlled by a very high acidity, which gives a vivacious and lively finish. As with all 2007s, acids were very ripe, so the structure of the wine is firm but not green at all.
Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2007 Sélection de Grains Nobles Trie Speciale
Bottling date ?/?; Alcohol: under 5° alc; Residual sweetness: above 400 g/l (potential alcohol: 234° Oechslés or 35% potential alc); Yields: 8 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: god knows/god knows even less; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
It might be difficult to believe, but usually in Alsace great vineyards develop noble rot quite late, and the first grapes that catch the botrytis are the ripest ones. This ‘Trie Spéciale’ was the first selection we did on the Clos Jebsal vineyard in 2007 and therefore by far the richest. When a SGN is harvested above 30% potential alcohol (or 200°Oechslés) we call it ‘Trie Spéciale’ or ‘Special Selection’ because the style of wines changes completely. The level of sugar is so high that yeasts cannot survive too long and fermentations can last for years even if the finished alcohol is extremely low (under 6%). These wines are bottled only three to four years after the harvest, because it takes a long time for those wines to clarify. It is only possible to make these wines when the quality of the botrytis is at its best and when the initial yield is very small. Of course, such richness makes only sense in good vineyards, capable to give a serious structure and complexity to the wines. Does it make sense to produce such wines? Certainly not! They are ageless, will keep forever, and whoever will taste them one day will also taste a part of history.
2/2009: the fermentation stopped just before Christmas 2008, so actually quite quick! The wine is now racked and will be bottled only in a few years. This wine already exhibit wonderful honey, waxy flavours. The palate has a racy structure, bracing acidity and of course is very sweet. This wine still needs more ‘elevage’… but already shows amazing character.
Pinot-Gris Clos Windsbuhl 2007 Sélection de Grains Nobles Trie Speciale
Bottling date: ?/?; Alcohol: under 5° alc; Residual sweetness: well above 350 g/l; Yields: 8 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: far away; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Surface: 2.2 ha; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope.
Since we started to cultivate the Clos Windsbuhl in the late 1980’s, we realized that this late ripening vineyard had the potential to sometimes produce some rich late harvest wines. The poor calcareous soil and cool climate of the Clos Windsbuhl help the grapes to keep high acidity and therefore the wines from this vineyard have an excellent structure. It is impossible for us to decide weather this vineyard is at his best for dry wines or sweet wines, as both styles retain the vineyard characteristics, show excellent minerality and are harmonious. Certainly the vintage conditions would influence the style, and if 2007 produced very healthy Riesling, the Pinot Gris allowed some beautiful botrytis to set on the oldest vines. We only did one selection and the result was quite amazing, almost unexpected, at 217° Oechslés or 32% potential alcohol. The fermentation was similar to the Clos Jebsal Trie Spéciale and both wines were racked the same day, early January 2009. As we are only about to bottle the 2005 vintage today of the same wine, I expect this one to need many more months/years of ageing in cask before bottling time.
2/2009: forget about this wine at this moment. It is pure botrytis juice, with incredible acidity and structure. The wine shows already fascinating aromas of citrus, honey, bee wax, nuts but it is far too early to speak about it today. Watch for the next comments in a few years…
Gewurztraminer Goldert 2007 Sélection de Grains Nobles
Bottling date: 2/2009; Alcohol: ° alc; Residual sweetness: g/l; Yields: 15 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2017-2037+; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 0.6 ha; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous facing East. Gentle slope.
2007 is a great vintage for Gewurztraminer, with great acidity and also perfect climatic condition for superb botrytis, so it is logic to be able to produce some SGN with this grape variety. What was surprising to us, is that it was possible to obtain these rare wines in two vineyards which never allowed us to produce such wines: Goldert and Hengst! It is not unusual to obtain late harvest ripeness level in the Goldert, because this vineyard does favour a late ripening of the grapes and is capable to build enough structure in the grapes to allow high maturity.. However, in order to reach SGN level, the concentration has to be pushed to the maximum and there must be enough botrytised grapes to select to obtain a small volume of wine. Goldert is a small vineyard, and never in the past had we enough homogenous noble rot as in 2007. As the weather forecast was excellent, we took our time and went for SGN. I can only say one thing: no regret! The fermentation was actually quite fast, but these rich wines do sometimes require a longer ageing to allow for proper clarification.
2/2009: almost closed for the first year of its life, this wine has now open up to some beautiful aromas of ancient roses, minerals, wet stones, spices, ‘pot pourri’ (dry flowers) and of course all the classic flavours of honey/wax associated to SGNs. There is no doubt that it is difficult to describe in detail all the scents the nose can pick up! The palate is unctuous, rich but so elegant and inviting. This style of SGN won’t need many years to satisfy the palate. It is dangerously drinkable today, but of course will be so much more complex in the years to come. The finish is round and reveals perhaps more the true nature of the calcareous vineyard with more smoky/spicy flavours.
Gewurztraminer Hengst 2007 Sélection de Grains Nobles
Bottling date : 9/2008; Alc: 10.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 247 g/l; Yields: 8hl/ha; Optimum drinking period : 2017-2037++; Average age of the vines : 56 years; Surface : 1.42 ha; Terroir : Marl-Oligocene calcareous. South-south-east facing, medium to strong slope.
For many years I have dreamt of being able one day to make an SGN in this vineyard. Hengst is the ultimate spicy/mineral type of gewürztraminer, and this grape variety was created for this vineyard! Hengst is a vineyard well exposed to the sun and enjoying a relatively dry climate. Botrytis does develop in the Hengst, but quite late and in relatively medium intensity, sometimes enough for producing great VTs (2006, 1994, 1990…) but never enough for a proper SGN, until 2007. For similar reason as for the Goldert SGN, we decided to take our time and select the noble rot. I must stress that the quality and amount of noble rot must be large enough so selecting it would not lower the quality of the classic Hengst that would be harvested just after the SGN. The vines are very old, the grapes are small and would only develop noble rot once perfectly ripe, and of course, in this vineyard, the acidity (and therefore the structure) is always very high. Everything was in place for allowing this wine to carry an enormous richness, so the selection was quite severe, but we were still amazed when we realized the ripeness reached 202° Oechslés or just above 30% potential alcohol. Technically, it could be a Trie Speciale for us, and this is why you will see it on the corks of this wine! However, as the fermentation was very much Hengst-like, the residual sweetness is not as high as expected in such wines, so we decided not to call this wine like this.
2/2009: this wine is in bottle for some months now and shows delicate aromas of ancient roses, jasmine flowers, spices, saffron, pepper… The delicacy of the nose is almost misguiding, because the first sip will reveal a huge palate with intense aromatics. The vineyard of the Hengst proves that it is capable of overpowering the sweetness and simple varietal flavours. Please do not call this dessert or pudding wine. This is Hengst!