The 2009 Vintage at Zind-Humbrecht
(lire les notes en français)
Notes by Olivier Humbrecht
Winter 2008/2009 was extremely dry, not really cold, sometimes it felt like springtime, so it wasn’t a surprise to us that budbreak was early, around early/mid April. The growth was fast, helped by warm temperatures and decent rainfalls in May. End of May was extremely hot (hottest day ever recorded in May in Alsace: 37.5°C). Mid flowering was around 26th May in our precocious vineyards like Herrenweg in Turckheim. A brusque change of weather early June with temperature falling down almost 20°C stopped and delayed the flowering process in the later ripening vineyards. The Rangen in Thann and Clos Windsbuhl in Hunawihr were the last vineyards to finish flowering around 15th June.
Some feared that there would be some grape losses amongst the vineyards that finished flowering late; however, harvest results showed that all vineyards were in fact very homogenous. End of June was nice, quite dry with warm temperatures. July had a normal rainfall and temperatures, so the fruit set was perfect and we were heading for a very precocious vintage, more similar to 2007 than 2003, because the vines were very green and there was no drought in sight at that stage. Of course, humidity and warmth could mean more mildew disease, but it was actually easy to avoid the problems if proper care was given to the vineyards.
August was very dry and at moments very hot. The soils turned from green to yellow during the month as grass and cover crop were drying under the sunshine. It helped the vines to slow down their growth, which is very favourable to obtain a quick change of colour of the grapes (véraison). Any heterogeneity at flowering was now compensated by a quick and homogenous véraison.
For many years now, we have stopped hedging our vines and keep a few branches ‘dancing ‘on top of the canopy. They help keeping the soil and grapes under the shade and avoid sun burn problems. If in the past we used to plough our soils a few times in spring in order to keep them grass free, we now allow any sort of grass, plants or cover crop to grow freely, as we usually stop ploughing the soils in May. Typically, if the weather isn’t too dry, the soils are completely green in July. This grass is then rolled down in order to pinch the branches which become dry above ground, while the roots stay active. This is a great help to fight sun burns on the soil and avoids loosing humidity by over-exposing the earth.
All this work paid in 2009, because no one would have expected the weather to be that warm and dry for over two months with no rain at all.
There could have been serious drought problems in August with bad viticulture. As always, vines cultivated with deeper root systems, smaller yields, more active leaves and un-compacted/protected soils, didn’t suffer at all from the drought. However, warmer temperatures did change the acidity balance: the malic acid was almost completely burned out and only tartaric acidity remained in the grapes.
If some areas suffered from lack of sugar ripeness (especially Riesling), it was because the vines entered into hydric stress too early. These same vines, over stressed, also burnt too much of their acids. Overall, 2009 shows acidity levels which are lower than 2008/07/06, but of the same level as 2005/04/00, and much higher than 1997 or 2003, and, surprisingly, pH can be quite low for some wines.
It was critical to be able to harvest not too late so the acidity would not drop too quickly. Proper vineyard practice that allows the vines to mature the grapes physiologically quicker (bio-dynamie), allowed us to start harvest quite early and, thanks to fantastic weather condition during September and October, we were able to spread the harvest over a long period of time, harvesting only at the right moment.
The harvest started slowly 9th September and finished 16th October (very similar to 2007).
The grapes were harvested very healthy and 2009 produced some wonderful dry wines. The botrytis developed nicely early October, especially on Pinot Gris and it was possible to produce some late harvest wines. However, because acidities are not that high, we didn’t ‘push’ our vineyards towards this style of wine and preferred to take the dry wine option. For this reason, we only produced one VT in Clos Jebsal and 3 SGN (Rangen, Clos Windsbuhl and Clos Jebsal), all in Pinot Gris.
The fermentation started fast for all the grapes harvested in September. Vineyards harvested later (mostly because the flowering was later) fermented slower. It is difficult to say that one grape variety is really better. All performed very well, including the Pinot Noir. 2009 will be a great vintage for both colours in Alsace. At varietal level, the wines will be very dry (<5g/l RS) and most Riesling show little sugars. The 2009 wines are all showing beautiful aromatics and nice structures on the palate, despite some strong lees character or slight youth reductions understandable in a warm and healthy harvest.
2009 is a larger harvest for us, mainly because the varietal wines yielded between 50 and 65hl/ha. The average of the estate is 52hl/ha, with the Grand Crus at 34hl/ha. No wines were chaptalized of course. 2009 should produce many wines with great ageing potential, but also many dryer wines that will show well at an earlier stage.
2009 is a very good vintage, but only the long term will tell us if it will be better than some of the recent great years: 2008/2007/2005/2002/2001… and 2010!
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
Alc/Alcohol: finished alcohol level at end of fermentation, RS/Residual Sweetness: sugars in g/l naturally left in the wine at the end of the alcoholic fermentation. H2SO4: total acidity in g/l expressed in sulphuric acid (in France). Multiply by 1.5 to obtain it in tartaric acid.
Pinot Blanc 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13° alc; Residual sweetness: 3 g/l; 3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 80 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010/2014; Average age of the vines: 34 years; Surface: 1.2 ha; Terroir: Oligocene Calcareous and gravely soil. Indice 1.
This is our classic Pinot d’Alsace blend of Auxerrois (70%) and Pinot Blanc (30%) originating from both Herrenweg and Rotenberg vineyards, in equal proportion of red calcareous and gravely soil. The 2009 vintage was harvested perfectly healthy. The grapes showed beautiful golden colour with soft acidity. The ripeness is normal and thanks to the characteristics of the 2009 vintage, the fermentation was fast keeping no sweetness. More than ever, the decision of blending these two different types of vineyards was useful. Usually the Rotenberg brings the acidity and Herrenweg the flavours. The wine clarified very quickly and could be bottled early.
2/2011: already showing that it is ready to be enjoyed. The nose is delicate and slightly mineral, not showing at all the big personality of most 2009s. The wine is very clear and limpid, with a nice refreshing fluidity on the palate. There is definitely less acidity than 08 or 07, but it shows nice balance on the palate. The mouth and finish are dry, but the soft structure of the 2009 vintage allows it to be tender and pleasurable. This is a very easy every day wine. It will go nicely with summer salads, fish, sea food and most light dishes.
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 12.9° alc; Residual sweetness: 7 g/l; 4.8 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 53 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012/2021; Average age: 20 years; Surface: 2 ha; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous (Jurassic) facing south & east. Indice 1.
Since 2004, all the grapes which are used for this wine come from our calcareous, late ripening Clos Windsbuhl vineyard. There is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Auxerrois. Chardonnay is only allowed for the production of sparkling wine in Alsace, so, under current wine laws (which will change in the near future), we are obliged to sell this wine as Vin de Table. The original idea was to associate Auxerrois, interesting for its aromatic quality, with another grape capable to bring a better structure and more minerality to the wine. This wasn’t perhaps that necessary in 2007 or 2008, but 2009 shows how much this was a good idea! Auxerrois and Chardonnay have a common ancestor: Pinot Blanc, so it makes sense to blend them together. The grapes were harvested very healthy, with a great acidity, and, as most 2009s, with a good physiological ripeness. The wine fermented very slowly but finished with a dry mouth feel.
2/2011: this wine took a certain time to reveal its personality. The acidity is vivacious, which is quite surprising in 2009 and it took until after the racking in summer 2010 to see this wine finally opening up. The wine now shows the ability of the Clos Windsbuhl to bring a good structure. The nose shows the limestone influence: earthy, rock powder, slight smoke. The mouth is made of steel and supported by a nice acidity. Despite some residual sweetness, the palate finishes dry.
Pinot Noir Wintzenheim 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 12.9° alc; Residual sweetness: <2 g/l; 3.3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8 Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2019; Average age of the vines: 18 years; Surface: 0.3 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor.
OK, it took me years to finally admit that we produce some reds and issue some tasting notes… This little Pinot Noir vineyard is located near the Clos Häuserer in Wintzenheim, but unfortunately not on the same type of soil. We find here some gravely deposits mixed with fine sands, capable to produce some aromatic style Pinots, but without the consistency and structure found on the limestone vineyards. It is highly possible that this is the last year we farm these vines, and typically, we get perhaps the best crop ever after we made the decision to get rid of it! 2009 has all the characteristic of great red wine vintage: good phenolic ripeness, balance, colour, acidity… Vinification is classic: hand harvest in 15kg buckets, partial hand de-stemming, 20 days macerations, 12 months in small barriques (no new ones), bottling from the lees without fining or filtration, so, careful decantation is needed!
2/2011: the colour is bright red, slightly cloudy if the wine is shaken. The nose shows lots of red ripe fruits. On the palate, the wine shows nice tannins and structure based on a good acidity. Classic Alsace red which should age correctly.
Pinot Noir Heimbourg 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 12.7° alc; Residual sweetness: <2 g/l; 3.8 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6; Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2021+; Average age of the vines: 17 years; Surface: 0.3ha. Terroir: marl-calcareous, facing west.
Ultimately, only this vineyard will remain as Pinot Noir on our estate. We are convince that only great marl limestone vineyards have the capacity to produce interesting, long lasting Pinot Noirs wines. The Heimbourg was an obvious choice for us for this grape, because its location helps to ripen slowly the Pinot Noir while staying healthy (slightly higher altitude, exposed to drying winds) and keeps good acidity in the wine. The vines were planted with a high density (8500 vines/ha) and low vines (15cm) but with a traditional Alsace higher canopy (1.8m). This allows us not to summer prune the vines, increase leaf foliage but also prevent side growth. Vinification is classic: hand harvest in 15kg buckets, partial hand de-stemming, 20 days macerations, 12 months in small barriques (no new ones), bottling from the lees without fining or filtration, so, careful decantation is needed!
2/2011: dark ruby red colour. The nose is still quite closed but start to show some spicy and mineral aromas on top of the classic fruit. The palate shows great acidity, balancing tannins and giving some freshness to the wine. It will need some time before being enjoyed and aerating it will help. It should also age nicely.
Bottling date: 9/2010, Alcohol: 13° alc, Residual sweetness: 3.5 g/l; 3.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 68 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2015; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Surface: 0.64 ha; Terroir: Gravely/silt; 75% Muscat d’Alsace, 25% Ottonel. Indice 1.
This wine originates 100% from our gravely vineyard in the Herrenweg in Turckheim. We took the decision to declassify it into our varietal range, because following the microscopic vintage 2008, in 2009, the vines decided to compensate and produced a more generous crop of beautiful fruity and aromatic grapes. The fermentation was very fast and finished all the sugars. A few years ago, we started to replace gradually our Ottonel vines with the more heat resistant small berry Muscat, known as Muscat d’Alsace in our area (the same grape is grown in the south of France). The 2009 climate suited this grape perfectly and allowed it to ripen perfectly while not loosing its fresh fruity character. Dry Muscats wines are the tradition in Alsace, despite the fact that more and sweeter versions are made for aperitif purpose. This wine will still be a perfect summer aperitif, but will also accompany many flavourful summer dishes and even the more demanding asparagus.
2/2011: this Muscat is now completely opened up, bursting of aromatics and just begs to be enjoyed. There is some sweet fruit and grapey aromas on the nose that could mean that this is a sweet wine. The palate shows the opposite with a dry yet soft and elegant structure. Medium ripe acidity makes the wine very easy to drink. Very classic dry Muscat. Long aromatics on the finish.
Muscat Goldert 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alc: 12.5 ° alc; RS: 15 g/l; 4.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 49 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2024+; Average age of the vines: 22 years; Surface: 0.36 ha; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous, facing East, gentle slope. 90 % Muscat d’Alsace, 10 % Ottonel. Indice 2
The late ripening and marl rich Goldert vineyard in Gueberschwihr managed to produce a Muscat wine well balanced in acidity, which can look surprising considering the warm September month of 2009. The grapes were harvested slightly later, without any noble rot and showing perfect ripeness, which is always complicated on the small berry Muscat cultivar. The precocity of the vintage usually helped for fast and powerful fermentations, but here, this wine resisted and despite a yeast activity that lasted over 12 months it kept a certain amount of residual sweetness.
2/2011: the nose is characteristic of limestone vineyards in 2009. Early days, it is possible to detect some reductive, lees characters, usually enhanced on the early harvested vintages and also stronger on very healthy crops. This characteristic disappears after some aeration; therefore racking the wine wasn’t necessary. The typical fruity flavours show up with air, but it is still the minerality of the Goldert that dominates. The palate shows some elegant sweetness.
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 11.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 4 g/l; 3.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 85 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2014; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Surface: 2ha, Terroir: gravely/silt on valley floor and calcareous hillsides; Indice 1.
This wine clearly illustrate some efforts in the direction of making wines that are elegant, with lower alcohol – so easier to drink – and yet also showing character and personality. Riesling is certainly the best grape variety for this type of wine. The grapes used to produce this wine originate mostly from our Herrenweg vineyard but also from some of other famous hillsides on our estate. The 2009 climatic profile allowed nice ripeness at an early stage, helping us to avoid picking at higher ripeness. I am sure that many of our customers would be surprised to see this style amongst our wines, but I believe that at this estate level, over ripeness was not a good option in 2009. Of course, this wine fermented very quickly and became dry.
2/2011: the nose shows mineral, stony quality with interesting herbal characteristics. The palate is very dry but doesn’t seem aggressive at all. 2009 is a vintage that has a natural roundness that suits this light elegant wine. The nose has opened a lot since the bottling and it seems that this style of Riesling is developing into very aromatic, almost exotic Riesling. Despite its intensity, the mouth feel and finish is light and elegant. It will go perfectly well with all types of sea food and lighter fish courses.
Riesling Terroir d’Alsace 2009
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 13.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 4.5 g/l; 4.8 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 68 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2021; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: gravely soil/silt; granite and marl; Indice 1
The initial success of the first edition of this wine made in 2008 incited us to continue in 2009. We hate the word ‘cuvée’, but I have to admit that in 2009 we had to choose the parcels carefully amongst our vineyards (mostly young vines from Brand) and harvest them at the proper ripeness to avoid important residual sweetness. This is the aim with this wine: it is clearly labelled as ‘Vin Sec’, so dry wine it has to be, below 5g/l, but still coming from ripe grapes that didn’t get the help from yeasts, enzymes, vitamins, nitrogen… in order to complete fermentation without problems. We feared the wine stopping before the end, but a last strike from the yeast around September 2010 made the wine finally dry. The harvest was very healthy and mostly coming from granitic soils.
2/2011: the wine has a nice gold/green colour, showing good ripeness. The nose is typical of classic Riesling with a nice minerality and good floral intensity. The palate is dense, vivacious and long. Less austere than the 2008, because this is the style of 2009, but also slightly richer with more concentration. The acidity feels saline and makes the wine very easy to drink.
Riesling Gueberschwihr 2009
Bottling: 2/2011; Alcohol: 13.4 °alc; Residual sweetness: 4.7 g/l; 4.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 75 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period 2013-2021; Average age of vines: 35 years; Surface: 1.05 ha; Terroir: Limestone/calcareous/siliceous, facing East and South. Gentle slope; Indice 1
This Riesling is produced from a blend of now seven different vineyards located around the village of Gueberschwihr, all with marl limestone soils mixed with some sandstone (silicium). In fact, the base calcareous hills are sometimes covered with some thin sands coming from the sandstone Vosges mountains just above. This village enjoys a late ripening situation which often explains a slightly later harvest and perhaps less alcohol in the wines, but also slightly bigger crops in favourable vintages like 2009. The grapes were harvested healthy with good acidity. The fermentation seemed never to end, but the best of the wine, as it became very dry.
2/2011: this wine still shows the characteristic of its upbringing on the lees and the mineral influence of its calcareous origin. The nose shows mineral, stony flavours, showing that it will eventually develop classic mineral/petroly aromas. The palate is powerful, well structured. The vintage influence makes it quite broad shouldered and long. This is a very nice classic dry Riesling.
Riesling Thann 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 12.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 8.4 g/l; 3.8 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 50 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2026; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks, facing south, very steep slope. Indice 2
All our vineyards in the village of Thann are located in the Rangen! However, this poor steep volcanic hillside gives a hard time to the young vines. These vines, used for this wine, were planted between 1978 and 1986, after my father Leonard purchased this Clos. Depending on the vintage characteristics, we can either declassify completely or keep them aside in a village Thann bottling, if we have enough to make a full cask, as it was the case in 2009. A quick comparison with the old vines, the real Rangen, shows how important it is for the vines to explore the soil as deep as possible. Nevertheless, this wine was made from beautiful grapes, nicely ripe and harvested very healthy. A relatively fast fermentation made a wine almost dry.
2/2011: the nose shows the volcanic origin: stony aromas, flint, some Riesling mineral character… The palate is already quite open and shows a pleasant and enjoyable structure. The vintage sunny influence brings a slight exotic touch. The finish is really dry’ish and perhaps Indice 1 would have been chosen if the acidity would have been slightly higher. It is an open wine offering early pleasures.
Riesling Calcaire 2009
Bottling: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.4 ° alc; Residual sweetness: 4.3 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3, Yields: 69 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2029; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: Calcareous Marl from the Oligocene period. Very gentle to steep slope. Indice 1.
This Riesling is part of the ‘Calcaire’ range that we started with the Pinot Gris in 2006. In fact, it was produced by accident in 2009! We still had a lot of 2008 in cask during the 2009 harvest and 2009 was a larger crop than usual. It eventually became important to allocate the right size of cask for each wine, and we made two mistakes, under estimating the crop of Clos Häuserer and Heimbourg. We eventually blended together the two ‘leftovers’ and, because it is serious wine, kept it aside. The resulting wine shows a little bit of both vineyards, but above all, has this limestone signature: structure, power, length and minerality. There is no doubt that this is a very interesting wine and the kind that we might not produce again in the future, hopefully!
2/2011: like any limestone based Riesling in 2009, the nose shows strong minerality, stony aromas, almost gunflint. The palate is ample, long, surprisingly dry but also quite round. The massive structure also brings certain warmth. Decantation is required here to allow the wine to breath and express all its potential.
Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 2009
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 12.75°alc; Residual sweetness: 12.8 g/l; 4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 68 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2023; Average age of the vines: 34 years; Terroir: gravely soil/silt; Indice 2.
The Herrenweg vineyard is located on a gravely soil left by the river Fecht in Turckheim during the fourth era. These young soils are usually well drained, warm, precocious and not too rich, unless covered by loess which has to be avoided. Minerality can be the lacking element in these vineyards, as the low clay content prevent the fixation of minerals, easily flushed away by rainfalls. Older vines help to compensate because they can find elements deeper in the soils and bio-dynamic farming also increases micro-organisms in the soil, which in turns liberate more minerals. Ripeness is never the problem there, but keeping a good level of acidity can be tricky in a warm year. Being able to harvest slightly earlier as a result of a more precocious physiological ripeness definitely explains why this wine shows such a nice balance. Fermentation was very slow and the wine kept some sweetness.
2/2011: the nose is already quite open displaying classic floral aromas, typical of the vineyard. The natural warmth of the gravely soil prevented the wine to become to reductive, so air brings also some citrus fruits. The palate is very seductive and surprisingly fresh. One would search the sweetness but it isn’t really obvious. The palate kept a nice structure and manages to hide the influence of the vintage. The finish is elegant and very classic for the Herrenweg.
Riesling Heimbourg 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14° alc; Residual sweetness: 8.8 g/l; 3.7 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 64 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2021; Average age of the vines: 15 years; Surface: 1.06 ha; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing south, southwest, steep slope. Indice 2
The Riesling is planted on the steepest and warmest part of the Heimbourg vineyard. The average slope averages here 50%, so most work are done by hand. The grapes are expected to ripen quickly and can reach high level of ripeness. It explains why this wine is rarely bone dry. However, the positive influence of the valley winds prevent the development of noble rot, so, we also don’t make very sweet wines here. The limestone soil keeps good acids and a rich structure. Given the ripeness of the grapes in 2009, we were quite surprised to see how quickly this wine finished to ferment (this was the first Riesling to finish fermentation in 2009), keeping quite a low level of sweetness. We believe that the warm location, lack of rain and absence of rot favoured a larger amount of wild yeasts and therefore an active fermentation.
2/2011: the nose is typical of limestone. Very mineral, with lots of sea air smells, almost petroly. It takes time for the fruit to show up. The palate is more advanced than the nose and show more open characteristics. The texture is rich, slightly round. The power of the wine has a greater influence than the actual sweetness. It explains the indice 2. Decanting and patience are needed here!
Riesling Clos Häuserer 2009
Bottling: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.8 ° alc; Residual sweetness: 15.2 g/l; 4.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2, Yields: 59 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2029+; Vineyard planted in 1973; Surface: 1.2 ha; Terroir: Calcareous Marl from the Oligocene period. Very gentle slope. Indice 2
The Clos Häuserer is located just under the limit of the Hengst G.C. on a similar rich marl limestone, quite deep, as 50 to 80cm of marl covers the base calcareous mother rock. There is little slope there, as the vineyard is encircled by the hill, but the climate can get very warm in summer and there is good water retention. Clos Häuserer loves warm vintages, at least vintages with warm ripening season. There will always be good acidity here and the wines have always proven to have good ageing potential. In 2009, a slight over ripeness is expected, despite complete absence of noble rot. The fermentation was slow and balance was reached with some light sweetness.
2/2011: the Clos Häuserer is perhaps the wine in 2009 that shows the most the lees influence and limestone origin. The nose is not exactly closed, there are massive rocky, iodine and lees aromas, but one can guess that it will take some time and air for the fruity elements to show up. The palate is dominated by powerful minerals and salty flavours. Despite the richness of this wine, there is a refined acidity on the finish that gives a sense of delicacy to the wine. Like most 09s Rieslings, the pH is very low in this wine, which increases the power of the acids. The sweetness is slightly higher, but this wine really doesn’t show it to much. Time needed though!
Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 2009
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 13° alc; Residual sweetness: 16 g/l; 4.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 40 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2029+; Average age of the vines: 35 years; Surface: 0.9 ha; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous (Jurassic), facing southeast, medium/steep slope. Indice 2.
The Clos Windsbuhl benefits from a late ripening climate, enhanced by the proximity of the forest and higher altitude. These elements were important in 2009 as they allowed this vineyard to keep cooler temperatures and preserve elegance in the wines, while still harvested later. The rocky calcareous soil, relatively poor, also allows for delicate style wines, which is an important criteria for the Riesling grape variety. The 2009 grapes were harvested very healthy, with good acidity and surprisingly low pH (which guarantees a forceful acidity). The wine fermented over 13 months but eventually kept some residual sweetness. This was the balance eventually desired by the natural yeasts and it is impossible to change it without loosing the vineyard characteristics. This was also the last Riesling vineyard to be harvested on the estate in 2009.
2/2011: the nose shows refined limestone character, still slightly closed but one can guess the almond, peach and stony aromas. The palate is elegant, almost easy with some well integrated sweetness. Everything should fall into place nicely after a couple years and the Windsbuhl 2009 will be very expressive. There is a sensation of full maturity in this wine, well controlled by the acidity that lifts up the finish. A wine to keep…
Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 7.5 g/l; 3.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 35 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2029+; Average age of the vines: 47 years; Surface: 2.1 ha; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks, facing south, very steep slope. Indice 1
The Rangen was partially replanted in the 50s and 60s (very well indeed by the previous owner of the Clos Saint Urbain) and it is these vines that were used to produce this wine. The Rangen is very steep, sometimes above 100% slope, and its south facing volcanic soil reacts dramatically well to intense sunshine. Having flowered much later than any of our other vineyard in 2009, the September sunshine actually helped this vineyard to finish ripening the grapes so by October the harvest was ripe and healthy for the Riesling. This was one of the fastest wine to ferment through, basically dry, but with the roundness of small concentrated yields.
2/2011: the nose shows the strong personality of the volcanic soil: flint stone, pencil lead, powdered rock, nicely balanced with more fruity aromas typical of the vintage. The palate is ample, quite rich, unctuous, showing a nice ripeness and again, typical volcanic flavours. The saline quality of this vineyard is perhaps attenuated in 2009 by the solar character of the vintage, which makes the Rangen perhaps more approachable in its youth than most recent vintages. Further ageing will however continue to improve the wine!
Riesling Brand 2009
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 13.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 4.5 g/l; 4.3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 38 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2029+; Average age of vines: 27 years; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 1.
In 2009, the Brand showed an exceptional capacity to ripen the grapes. The warm location (Brand comes from Brandy/English or Brandig in Alsacian!) is due to an exceptional precocious climate but also a steep south exposure and a soil type, made of two micas granite that allows fast temperature increase deep under the surface at the roots level. The vineyards located in the eastern part of the Brand (Schnekelsbourg) see often more botrytis, but those located in the middle of the Brand on poorer granite (Steinglitz and Brand) produced healthier grapes. This part of the Brand was used to produce this drier Brand, only after 11 months fermentation though! Early harvest (in September versus October) and healthier grapes usually guarantee a steadier more complete yeast activity. Of course, with commercial yeasts, it doesn’t matter!
2/2011: the nose is showing both typical fruity aromas, typical of Brand, and also a certain minerality and light austerity which isn’t that usual in this vineyard. The palate is rich and intense, very saline with a beautiful dry structure. The refinement of the Brand vineyard compensates the dry character and power of the wine. It is already very pleasurable but thanks to a beautiful acidity/low pH combination, it is also a wine that deserves further cellaring.
Riesling Brand Vieilles Vignes 2009
Bottling date: 2/2011; Alcohol: 12.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 60 g/l; 3.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 32 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2034+; Average age of vines: 59 years; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 5.
The ‘Old Vines’ selection comes from the eastern part of the Brand, where the granite is in fact lying above a very interesting marl/limestone mother rock. This rare combination is highly interesting as it produces wines with great structure and minerality but also very aromatic Rieslings. The granite allows for better drainage/heat and produces the minerals; the underlying clay/limestone brings water stability and structure. It is also a combination that helps the development of noble rot, and on old vines, the result can be a wine with incredible concentration. This wine was harvested under the limit of late harvest, but unfortunately too early for the local authorities (perhaps we work to hard in our vineyards trying to get good ripeness!), so, not wanted to harvest this vineyard any later, we lost the VT approval. Of course, allowing for more concentration and produce an SGN was tempting, but we thought that this wasn’t a better option in a vintage like 2009 in this vineyard. Expectedly, the fermentation stopped early keeping a large amount of sweetness in the wine.
2/2011: the nose is already very open and expressive, showing intense fruity aromas, citrus, almost exotic, some honey (noble rot) and this wonderful ripe Riesling character. The palate is a real treat, very round with a beautiful elegant sweetness. Most people would probably drink this wine young to profit from the extraordinary flavours, but that would be missing much more complex aromas in the ageing process.
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.3° alc; Residual sweetness: <2 g/l; 3.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6 Yields: 69 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2015; Average age of the vines: 18 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor. Indice 1.
Pinot Gris is often the grape variety that can suffer the most from hot and dry weather in producing wine that can be burning and lacking grip, however, it is also a grape variety that needs some ripeness in order to develop nice flavours and interesting structure. More than any other grape in 2009, we tried to harvest the Pinot Gris before it started to develop any noble rot and definitely tried to avoid unnecessary over ripeness in the Herrenweg vineyard, which produced the biggest part of this wine. The Herrenweg is a gravely valley floor vineyard, well drained and precocious. It is capable of producing elegant aromatic style of wines, which is the definition of this varietal Pinot Gris. Not many of our customers have seen a perfectly dry style Pinot Gris from us for many years, as it can often keep some roundness while finding it difficult to finish fermenting all the sugars. The 2009 finished perfectly dry in a very clean pure style as the crop was perfectly healthy.
2/2011: this was probably the quickest wine to finish fermenting in 2009, and right from that time, it is showing the exact same characteristics: elegant soft aromatics, nutty, light creamy toasty character with some light minerals. The palate is elegant and very well defined. Despite a very decent ripeness, it seems lighter than 14% and the fact that it is very dry makes it actually very interesting. The wine is now nicely opened up. It will be very easy to use with chicken, poultry, light meaty dishes or sea food.
Pinot-Gris Vieilles Vignes 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.2° alc; Residual sweetness: 8.5 g/l; 2.7 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8 Yields: 31 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2021; Average age of the vines: 64 years; Surface: 0.5 ha; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor. Indice 2.
These old vines are located on gravely soils in the Herrenweg vineyard. They are very precious to us because it is there that we select our massal selections of Pinot Gris vines. They only have one cluster/shoot, small bunches and look totally different from the modern clones that look more like table grapes. Even in a generous vintage like 2009, yields remain modest. Often heavily botrytised, this vineyard was in fact harvested before the development of noble rot in 2009. We preferred to keep a drier style in 2009 and avoid botrytis. A nice steady fermentation ended on a dry-ish style.
2/2011: this is a 2009 wine which is already very open and showing intense nutty, toasty, white fruits aromas on the nose. One could almost think of a new oak contact, but that wasn’t the case (never is!). Fermentation flavours are mixed with more varietal aromas and create this sensation. The palate is nicely rich, without excess and the little residual sugars are nicely blended in the structure of the wine. Would the acidity have been sharper, it could have been an indice 1. A pleasurable wine already today!
Pinot-Gris Calcaire 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 30 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5, Yields: 49 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2024+; Average age of the vines: 19 years; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 3.
The vines used to produce this wine were planted between 1988 and 1992 on the Clos Windsbuhl in Hunawihr. Following the purchase of this vineyard in 1987, some parts of the Clos needed replanting because the rootstock, clone or density weren’t correct. Today, these vines are getting closer to the quality of the older vines (funnily all planted according to high quality standards!) but there is always a small gap that separates them, mostly a yield difference and botrytis quality. In general, 2009 wasn’t a big noble rot vintage, but the Pinot Gris in the Clos Windsbuhl was an outstanding exception. We preferred not to allow the younger vines to go to far, unlike the old vines, so these grapes were harvested earlier. Fermentation lasted about 4 months and finished with some sweetness left in the wine.
2/2011: the nose already shows a nice mineral quality as well as honeyed, dried fruits aromas. The palate is elegant and hides the richness of the wine very well. Residual sweetness is well present on the finish but so is the acidity that lightens up the finish. Already quite showy, but it should continue to develop in the next few years. Pleasurable wine!
Pinot-Gris Rotenberg 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.2° alc; Residual sweetness: 12g/l; 3.9 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3, Yields: 39 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2024+; Average age of vines: 28 years; Surface: 1.2 ha; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous. West to Northwest facing. Strong slope. Indice 2.
The Rotenberg is a small single vineyard located on the west side of the Grand Cru Hengst in Wintzenheim, on a steep marl calcareous vineyard, relatively thin and poor. The high iron content gives the soil a red brick colour, especially if the soil is regularly cultivated. The vines grow there very slowly in a late ripening climate, mostly due to the altitude (300m/350m) and west to north west exposure. The alternance of fog in the morning and evening sunshine often helps the development of noble rot. In 2009 we tried to avoid it in order to keep more freshness and elegance in the wine. It was easy as the grapes were physiologically ripe earlier. A classic long fermentation kept little sugars but allowed for an intense aromatic expression.
2/2011: we can already find here all the classic aromas of the Rotenberg: quince, pears but also lots of nutty, toasty Pinot Gris character. The wine is already quite open, both nose and palate. There is a hint of roundness on the palate but the acidity kicks in very quickly and brings a very fresh structure. I expect this wine to become even drier with age. Overall it displays fantastic flavours and shows the open character of 2009.
Pinot-Gris Heimbourg 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 19 g/l; 3.9 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 31 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2024+; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Surface: 1.6ha. Terroir: marl-calcareous, facing west. Indice 3.
The Pinot Gris is planted in the top part of the Heimbourg, which is the poorest and exposed to the west, on very thin and rocky calcareous soils. It is probably the vineyard on our estate that has the highest pH at the roots level: 9.5, which explains why young vines struggle to grow here. The vineyard is still quite young, but does behave like a much more mature one. The Heimbourg is slowly showing its potential as one of the great place of Turckheim. In 2009, the production was quite small and the grapes were harvested very healthy with a nice balance. The fermentation was slow and the wine kept some sweetness.
2/2011: everything is round and delicate in this wine. The aromas are dominated by almonds, light honey touch and some torrefaction (toast) with elegant lees contact flavours. The palate is slightly more closed, soft and almost delicate. The sweetness is surprisingly hidden in the wine. One can more sense the ripeness of the vintage than the actual sweetness. Long clean finish. The slightly higher residual sweetness also covers a nice phenolic ripeness and some tannin.
Pinot-Gris Clos Windsbuhl 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 53 g/l; 3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8, Yields: 32 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2034+; Average age of the vines: 40 years; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 5.
Despite a warm climate very favourable to high ripeness, 2009 wasn’t a vintage with huge botrytis development. There were of course a few exceptions, and the Clos Windsbuhl Pinot Gris was particularly affected by noble rot. The late precocity of this vineyard favours a late ripening of the grapes, which makes it always easier with botrytis. There is nothing worse for botrytis to start developing under too warm condition and too early: it often turns into mould or acid rot. The calcareous rocky soil of the Windsbuhl also brings good acidity and structure to these rich wines. In 2009, we were able to select the noble rot in the old vines of Pinot Gris which produced an SGN. The other grapes, still affected with some decent amount of noble rot, produced this wine. Medium length fermentation and the wine finished with a beautiful sweet balance.
2/2011: this wine is already quite showy, probably due to the intensity and quality of the noble rot associated to the exotic character of the 2009 vintage; it is possible to see wonderful honeyed, cocoa, green tea and dried candied fruit flavours. The palate is ample and rich and develops a sweet, round, unctuous finish. It is a very concentrated wine but remains elegant and racy. It will also improve for many years if well kept…
Pinot-Gris Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 27 g/l; 2.9 g/l H2SO4, pH: 4.0; Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2034+; Average age of the vines: 40 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, very steep slope. Indice 3.
Just like some of the other great vineyards on the estate, the Pinot Gris grapes, especially those located near the river, developed a beautiful noble rot, concentrated but also very pure (without excessive mycelium or mould). The Rangen was able to take advantage of its late precocity (altitude is between 350m and 450m) and could benefit from a longer ripening period, avoid suffering from heat during the early part of September. In fact, mid August, the soils were still covered by a very green cover crop of a multitude of different plants! The importance of noble rot justified a selection which became an SGN. The other part of the crop produced this wine. The fermentation was relatively fast and the final balance was an off dry/sweet wine.
2/2011: the nose is dominated by smoky, flinty aromas that are a reminder of the volcanic origin of this vineyard. Of course, the noble rot also influences the nose with more classic honeyed, waxy notes and some ‘rôti’ character, closer to humus and fresh forest scent. The palate hides the richness of the wine very well behind the strong personality of this vineyard. Still closed, probably in need of air, this wine begs for more ageing. The finish is round, sweet, very racy and forceful.
Gewurztraminer 2009 Lot 170
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14° alc; Residual sweetness: 5 g/l; 3.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 65 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2018; Average age of the vines: 31 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor, marl limestone; Indice 1. 3000 cases produced.
It really was mentally difficult to follow up 2008 and 2007, two of our greatest Gewurztraminer vintages in the history of our estate. Gewurztraminer is a curious grape variety, because it needs lots of sunshine and heat to complete perfect physiological ripeness, but then needs to grow slowly in order to acquire complex flavours. All this seems contradictory, except in Alsace! Surely 2009 offered perfect ripening conditions, almost too good as sugars could rise quickly. For us, the profile of the vintage was very favourable to Gewurztraminer, however, in some vineyards, excessive sweetness could be wrong as acids were lower. 2009 was a record breaking vintage in Alsace for the production of late harvest wines, but we felt that in some vineyards harvesting too late would bring out the worst of this grape: heavy cloying style. This wine comes partly from the Herrenweg vineyard and also from Wintzenheim. It was clearly a wine that was constructed and blended in order to achieve a certain style.
2/2011: The nose is very pungent, showing lots of exotic aromas, roses and spices, clearly also influenced by the limestone vineyards from Wintzenheim. The palate shows surprising structure and a dry finish. The grapes were very healthy, so the fermentation was steady and almost complete, which suits this style of Gewurztraminer. It is already quite open but will benefit from a little time in the bottle. This style of Gewurztraminer will be perfect with grilled fish or white meat, go very well with smoked food, Asian recipes and anything that could be complicated with wines.
Gewurztraminer 2009 Lot 17M
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13° alc; Residual sweetness: 47 g/l; 3.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 49 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2010-2021; Average age of the vines: 45 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor, marl limestone; Indice 3. 2000 cases produced.
We made two varietal cuvees in 2009 and this one, Lot 17M, is significantly sweeter than the other one, Lot 170. In fact, some casks originating from the Herrenweg vineyard (especially the older vines) were harvested slightly richer and the wines kept higher residual sweetness. We used again some grapes from some of our limestone vineyards to balance out the extravagance of the Herrenweg vineyard, and also to create a harmonious combination. Gravely soil can produce very rich wines, but they often need the structure and acidity from limestone vineyards in order to reach a more complex harmony. The fermentation was slightly slower here, and this wine stopped fermenting at a lower alcohol and much higher sweetness. The yields were also less important, which explain the higher ripeness of the grapes. The crop was healthy – there was very little noble rot – so this wine is already quite showing and we feel that it is a very interesting example of rich Gewurztraminer.
2/2011: the nose shows intense rich sweet fruity flavours. The spicy character is still quite hidden into the wine. The palate is very expressive, which is the signature of a richer structure. The sweetness looks impressive on the paper, but actually doesn’t show that much on the finish. The wine retains a great balance that makes it very easy drinking, also helped by a slightly lower alcohol. This is a very showy wine. Of course, it will perhaps be more at ease as an aperitif, with cheese, some desserts and full spicy cuisine.
Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 10.5 g/l; 2.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8; Yields: 69 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2019; Average age of vines: 26 years; Surface: 0.2 ha; Terroir: calcareous limestone/silicium; Indice 2.
Following some vineyard exchanges we did a few years ago in this village to obtain a small piece in the Grand Cru Goldert, we were left with only one little vineyard of Gewurztraminer in Gueberschwihr, located just near the Goldert GC, on soils that are less calcareous and richer in marl/silicium sands that come from the mountains just above the hill. It is facing full east and a light slope and enjoys a late ripening situation. It is always a wine that is very different from most of our other Gewurztraminers. The grapes were harvested very healthy and a slow fermentation ended with an off dry style.
2/2011: the nose still shows fermentation and lees flavours with lots of brioche, toasted bread and nutty aromas that erase almost the varietal flowery character. The palate is just slightly round, supple and brings a light warming sensation. It will take little time for all the flavours to fall into place and eventually allow more spiciness to develop.
Gewurztraminer Calcaire 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 62 g/l; 2.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.9; Yields: 45 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2014+; Average age of vines: 26 years. Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing west, severe slope and Oolithic calcareous facing East. Gentle slope. Indice 5.
Just like our first Pinot Gris Calcaire, this wine is made from the blending of two vineyards from different villages, having both a similar marl calcareous soil. Here, we decided to assemble the Gewurztraminers from the Goldert GC and the Heimbourg vineyard together. In both vineyards, the grapes were harvested very ripe with a little touch of noble rot. The yields were correct, not too high, and fermentation for both wines was eventless, ending up with rich, dense quite sweet wines. Why did we decide to blend these two wines then? Unfortunately, we felt that they followed two of the greatest Gewurztraminer vintages (2007 and 2008) and comparison was tough. Put together, and therefore loosing their single vineyard status, they are presented in a less pretentious format and become a nice forward and rich Gewurztraminer produced in a sunny vintage.
2/2011: all is said on the nose: it is powerful, dense, and spicy with a little petroly character that originates from the calcareous vineyards and some noble rot. On the palate, the wine is generous and rich, long lasting with some obvious density and sweetness. It is a very forward wine that does show a nice minerality. It will probably age very well while keeping an outgoing character.
Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim Vieilles Vignes 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 12.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 46 g/l; 2.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.9; Yields: 50 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2011-2024+; Average age of the vines: 63 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor; Indice 4.
The Herrenweg is a very precocious vineyard. It enjoys a warm climate, enhanced by the well drained gravely valley floor soil and the absence of shadows from the Vosges mountains. This is definitely an advantage in vintages when ripeness is difficult, but can sometimes cause excessive ripeness and acidity loss if the harvest is too much delayed and late. For this reason, we only kept our oldest vines to produce this wine, without actually looking for a late harvest style. However, ripeness went up quite quickly, despite healthy grapes. The fermentation was very slow and stopped early, with a lower alcohol level and some significant sweetness. This was a little surprise to us because in most vintages it would have fermented to a higher level of alcohol. These old vines have very deep rooting which guarantee also a nice minerality and balance.
2/2011: the intense floral, ripeness sensation and pleasurable nose is the signature of the Herrenweg. The ripeness carries the fruit to a nice level of elegance and makes this perfumed grape variety desirable. The palate is very unctuous, delicate and quite sweet, but without the weight usually associated with these wines when they have higher alcohols. It shows the sunny side of 2009 with an open style, quite forward and aromatic. This wine is dangerously easy to drink!
Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 13.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 62g/l; 2.7 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8; Yields: 45 hl/ha; Optimum drinking: 2014-2031+; Average age: 39 years; Surface: 0.9 ha; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous, southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 5.
Most vintages we usually worry (for nothing, really!) about the potential ripeness of the gewürztraminers in this late ripening vineyard. Even if the Windsbuhl is capable of catching up late in the season, there is always some fear that something may go wrong in September. In 2009, there was no doubt; this was the year of the Windsbuhl! Everything was there to help perfect ripeness: the altitude, proximity of the forest and its cooling effect, the poor thin rocky calcareous soil and its cracks, allowing the roots to grow deep, and, more importantly, the quality of the clay and minerals produced by the Muschelkalk limestone. The grapes were harvested ripe, healthy and produced a wine that fermented very slowly (the slowest for this grape variety in 2009) and finally stopped with some important residual sweetness. It doesn’t show the highest acidity on the analysis report, but tasting the wine shows how well balanced it is. Figure! In bio-dynamie, we speak about the information of the acids. The wine speaks about acidity without necessarily having a lot.
2/2011: the nose shows an elegant combination of fruity aromas (litchi, mango) and complex flowers. There is a sense of ripeness there that doesn’t betray the origin of the grapes. The Windsbuhl is already quite expressive, but remains delicate and well structured, which is the signature of its limestone origin. The palate is long, unctuous, no broad but persisting. Already very pleasurable, it should continue to develop and will show more spicy/earthy aromatics with further cellaring.
Gewurztraminer Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2009
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 14.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 30 g/l; 2.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.9; Yields: 35 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2031+; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Surface: 0.5 ha; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, very steep slope; Indice 3.
The Gewurztraminer finds its place at the bottom of the steep volcanic hillside of the Rangen. Higher altitude (the Rangen is between 350m and 450m) and more wind exposure can affect the flowering and delay ripeness, so the proximity of the river, on more sheltered slopes, help this grape and allows it to ripen fully. If most of the Rangen is perhaps better suited to Riesling and Pinot Gris, it is perhaps because these terraces near the river are small, and therefore Gewurztraminer is rarer in the Rangen. The Rangen also has the potential to overpower the intense aromatics of Gewurztraminer. Sometimes, too much is too much, and the Rangen is one of the rare Grand Cru vineyards that show its volcanic personality over the varietal flavours. The grapes were slightly affected by noble rot, but the fermentation was quite fast, keeping some sweetness over a rich palate.
2/2011: the nose is still closed, barely showing any fruit, such is the importance of the flinty, smoky, gun powder volcanic character. The nose is intense, but does need lots of air to open up. The palate is round, well balanced, long lasting and just like the nose, begs for time. The finish has a saline richness, almost like maritime sea air. Please decant before serving!
Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2009 Vendange Tardive
Bottling date 9/2010; Alcohol: 12.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 90 g/l; 3.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5; Yields: 39 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2034+; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
Just like in 2008, the Clos Jebsal is the only vineyard that produced a Vendange Tardive in 2009. It wasn’t because of lack of sunshine or good weather, but the few vineyards that allowed noble rot to develop (Rangen, Windsbuhl, and Jebsal) were actually harvested in SGN. Jebsal was the only vineyard that could produce both VT and SGN. This vineyard is quite amazing, because every single year it shows its capacity to produce rich sweet wines. We don’t think that we will be able to produce one year a dry Jebsal! The combination of warm precocious climate and rich marl-gypsum soil (that keeps good humidity) allows for such botrytis regularity. The vineyard can also take huge concentrations because it doesn’t go in the direction of exotic sweet easy wines, but rather keeps a complex structure and flavour profile that can age very well. The 2009 was heavily botrytised and the fermentation stopped with a very sweet balance.
2/2011: the nose shows lots of candied fruits, honey flavours, yellow plums and a nice clean botrytis influence. The palate is unctuous, sweet, without any asperity or sharpness which makes it very easy to drink. This wine is surprisingly showy today and quite enjoyable, despite the fact that further ageing would bring more complexity.
Pinot-Gris Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2009 Sélection de Grains Nobles
Bottling date: 9/2010; Alcohol: 11.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 147 g/l; 5.3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5; Yields: 10 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2039+; Average age of the vines: 46 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, very steep slope.
Even if noble rot is part of the Rangen vineyard most vintages, we do not produce regularly VTs or SGNs here. Very often, the higher vineyards on the steep Rangen hillside, further away from the influence of the river, are harvested healthy and it is very interesting to assemble all parts together in order to obtain more complexity and structure in the final wine. In 2009, however, this vineyard was harvested later, because of the later flowering, and under sunny cool October days, the botrytis developed intensely almost everywhere. Selecting the SGN here also allowed us to control the maturity of the normal Pinot Gris Rangen. The concentration effect of the noble rot is quite amazing. It mostly demonstrated in the fantastic acidity of this wine. Of course, the fermentation stopped early keeping a decent sweetness in this elegant SGN.
2/2011: the colour is pale yellow, very fresh looking for 2009. The nose is delicate, with some honey, candied fruits, raisins, and some light smoky flavours. The Rangen character is there, despite the noble rot influence. The palate is elegant and the yeast did a superb job in choosing this final sweetness balance. This is probably not our most powerful or sweetest SGN, but probably one of our most elegant one, which will also be able to age nicely for a very long time.
Pinot-Gris Clos Windsbuhl 2009 Sélection de Grains Nobles
Bottling date: ?/?; Alcohol: ?° alc; Residual sweetness: ? g/l; ? g/l H2SO4, pH: ?; Yields: 6 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2017-2039+; Average age of the vines: 42 years; Terroir: Muchelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope.
This wine is made from botrytised grapes that were selected within our oldest vines in the Clos Windsbuhl vineyard. The botrytis development was more intense in the Pinot Gris grape variety, and the SGN style was for us the best option. This wine took a long time to ferment (about 15 months), has a superb concentration (182° Oechslés or 26° potential) and great acidity. The Pinot Gris finds in this calcareous vineyard some superb characteristics and aromatic profile. Of course, the late ripening character of the Windsbuhl allows for very clean noble rot but also structure. Such rich wines take a long time to mature and clarify, they are usually bottled only 2 or 3 years after the harvest.
2/2011: this wine is still on its fine lees in cask. The aromas show intense botrytis (honey, bee wax, quince jelly) and also some cask character (vanilla, lees, nutty flavours). The fruit will take more time to come through. The palate is intense, rich, very sweet but superbly structured. Further ageing will help the wine to integrate this richness, but already now it is a real treat to taste it!
Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2009 Sélection de Grains Nobles Trie Speciale
Bottling date? /? Alcohol: under ?° alc; Residual sweetness: ? g/l (potential alcohol: ?° Oechslés or % potential alc); ? g/l H2SO4, pH: ?; Yields: 10 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: ?/?; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
It really was quite funny to see the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Clos Jebsal SGNs fermenting side by side! This shows how long fermentations can be and how long it can take to such wines to develop into wines. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the vintages because a one year old wine can still have strong fresh juice flavours! It is really the rich marl soil and their minerality that allows for such extraordinary botrytis development and also gives the wines a needed structure to sustain such richness. We really try not to obtain the highest sugar concentration possible, and sometimes, we even oblige the harvesters to take some healthy fruit to lower the botrytis influence. However, whatever we do, Clos Jebsal SGN is always quite a monster of a wine. In 2009, the selection was very easy because the botrytis was very pure and dry. However, extraction in the cellar was more complicated and we had to press very slowly for a long time to be able to extract the juice from the dry grapes. Fermentation? Still going on in February 2011 and probably for another months or year! The high sugar content and acidity prevent the development of the yeasts.
2/2011: still fermenting ! not very actively, but there are constant light bubbles on top of the wine. The nose is very pure, extremely fruity, almost like fresh apple juice. The palate is rich, very sweet and will probably not change much. The fermentation might be very slow, but there isn’t much alcohol produced in total. Still a work in progress…