Zind-Humbrecht 2011 - Vintage notes

To understand the quality of a given vintage in Alsace, nothing is better than tasting the whole range of Zind-Humbrecht's wines, once they are bottled. Because Olivier Humbrecht produces some of the best wines of the region, but specifically because he does so on an unmatched range of terroirs, spanning from Hunawihr in Central Alsace to Thann in the southern most part of the Alsace vineyard. The estate's vineyard is planted on all kinds of terroirs, from granite hills to marly slopes through volcanic, limestone-based soils, with several grape varieties. This way it is possible to asses how a particular grape/terroir combination did in a specific region of Alsace, meaning understanding how the vintage's climate allowed a perfect ripening of the grapes. After a strong 2010 vintage, 2011comes with a lesser reputation, yet the notes show again some great results.

In addition to a high-quality range of wines, Zind-Humbrecht is distinctive for its publishing of vintage notes written by Olivier Humbrecht. After a brief introduction to the vintage, details are given for every wine produced, from technical analysis to harvest information, on top of his own tasting notes including ageing potential. A remarquable effort done since 1996, no other winegrower has done it yet in such detail. www.oenoalsace.com has published every vintage note since 1996, with an english version available soon for all. This on-line database easily accessible from a smartphone (while in a restaurant for example) is a great way to check the richness of a wine. Wait for the summary page coming out soon...

The 2011 Vintage at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
(text from Olivier Humbrecht)

In keeping with the trend of all recent vintages, we can witness that nature is more and more precocious, and 2011 has really beaten any previous record.

Winter 2010/2011 was one of the driest of recent years and the period March to May 2011 was extremely warm and dry. It wasn’t a surprise to see many vineyards bud break at the end of March, almost a month earlier than a classic vintage.

June to August saw the return of normal amount of rainfalls. This was very important to us as there wasn’t much water reserve in the soils at the end of winter. Throughout the year, from October 2010 to the end of the harvest 2011, we recorded the following average rainfall: Thann (627mm), Turckheim (482mm) and Hunawihr (608mm). These figures are slightly below average, but 2011 isn’t considered as a drought year as it was the winter that was very dry and summer saw the return of more rain. September and October were again very dry, allowing for perfect harvest conditions.

Flowering started early the 20th May, provoked by record breaking temperatures during this period (37°C in Colmar!), so most vineyard were finished before June, at the exception of Rangen and Windsbuhl. The flowering was quick, and as expected after the small 2010 crop, the fertility of the vines was high, forecasting a large potential crop.

During summer, the grapes ripened quickly, despite a rainy and cold August. It allowed the vines to slow down and helped to keep decent acidities and normal pH levels. Harvest started September 5th for the Pinot grapes and the 12th for all other varieties. Harvest finished October 4th, but most vineyards were picked in September. This is one of the earliest harvests on the estate!

At the exception of some risk of rot at the beginning of the harvest (5th September), 2011 was a very easy vintage with ideal harvest weather. Just like in 2009 and 2007, it was really important to achieve early physiological ripeness in order to be able to pick up the grapes before sugar content was too high and acid would drop to low. This is something that can be helped by the use of some bio-dynamic preparations and also through a specific canopy management (no hedging for example and knitting the branches on top of the canopy). The nature of the vine is to grow branches, leaves and climb on whatever support it can find, which are all opposed to the ripening process. Proper physiological ripeness can only be correctly achieved if the vine is not growing anymore. Some practices on the vine will either increase the vine’s growth (summer pruning, green harvest…), some will help to stop it earlier (no hedging for example). Bio-dynamic preparations and some plant decoction can also be used to make the vine understand what we are looking for: properly ripen the grapes and stop growing like a ‘vine’! This may seem incomprehensible, but we can witness the effects and result of some preparations. Today we do harvest much earlier grapes that have better physiological ripeness.

2011 is a large crop in Alsace. We averaged 56hl/ha on the whole estate and 37hl/ha in the Grand Cru vineyard alone. 2011 is also the first vintage were Single Vineyard and Village wines had to be declared separately with reduced yields (68hl/ha for single vineyards and 72hl/ha for Village wines). Despite the yields that can still be considered high, many producers were not able to declare them as the actual production was higher!

The wines of 2011 show normal acidity level, perhaps slightly higher than 2009 but definitely lower than the recent high vintages of 2010 or 2008. Fermentations were quite fast for the varietal wines but do take a long time for the single vineyards or Grand Cru wines. All grape varieties show an interesting potential. 2011 should be considered as a good to very good vintage.

The wines of 2011 are characterized by a nice aromatic expression, quite delicate, despite the warm vintage. They all show an incredible resistance to evolution once the bottle is opened. Good acidity helps the wines to age because it will bring balance between the different elements of the wine. However, 2011 wines have great phenolic ripeness and tannins are excellent anti-oxidants helping the wines to age.

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).

Pinot Blanc 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 3/2012; Alcohol: 12.8° alc; Residual sweetness: <2 g/l; 3.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 80 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012/2016; Average age of the vines: 36 years; Terroir: Oligocene Calcareous and gravely soil. Indice 1.
Originating from Herrenweg and Rotenberg vineyards, this blend of Auxerrois (70%) and Pinot Blanc (30%) benefits from the combination of calcareous and gravelly soils. The cooler limestone of Rotenberg, mostly planted in Auxerrois, brings structure and acidity, the warmer Herrenweg brings richness and fruit. The 2011 was harvested very healthy. Our goal was to harvest these grapes at an elegant level of ripeness, ensuring that the wine would finish dry. The fermentation was fast and the wine became clear rapidly.
2/2012: we really have no doubt about bottling this wine so early. It developed into an elegant delicate style, with classic light fruity nose and some yeast/nutty character. The palate is dry, without any aggressiveness, and medium long. This is a very easy wine to use on an everyday basis.
2/2013: much more open, but shows surprising stony/mineral aromas. Feels much more powerful.

Zind 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 8/2012; Alcohol: 12.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 11 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2; Yields: 75 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013/2021; Average age of vines: 22 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous (Jurassic) facing south & east. Indice 2.
The Zind is produced every year since 2004 from Chardonnay (60%) and Auxerrois (40%) exclusively located on the Clos Windsbuhl in Hunawihr. The Chardonnay was chosen to replace the Pinot-Blanc, lower the importance of Auxerrois and bring more complexity through the influence of a great limestone vineyard. In 2011, these grapes were more fertile than usual, probably a consequence of the small 2010 crop, so the Auxerrois is slightly more important in proportion. The 2011 crop was healthy, had a good ripeness and fermented lazily without being able to go right to the end, so the wine kept a little sweetness.
2/2013: the nose shows still discreet minerality, but opens up with air towards white fruits (peach) and subtle exotic aromas. Nice presence on the palate, quite juicy with some toasty and nutty flavors. It is possible to taste a slight roundness mid-palate, which is discretely hiding behind a nice acidity and minerality typical of this vineyard. The 2011 Zind is very similar to the 2007 vintage.

Muscat 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 3/2012, Alcohol: 12.6° alc, Residual sweetness: 15 g/l; 3.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5; Yields: 79 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2016; Average age of the vines:  32 years; Terroir: Gravely/silt; 80% Muscat d’Alsace, 20% Ottonel. Indice 2.
This wine originates 100% from the Herrenweg vineyard, now dominated with the Muscat d’Alsace grape variety that we prefer to the Ottonel, less structured and quicker ripening. The Gravelly soil of the Herrenweg is very precocious and it shows in the style of the wine: very aromatic! The 2011 vintage was harvested perfectly healthy, relatively early in order to avoid excessive richness and, despite a fermentation that lasted until Christmas, the wine clarified quickly and became very approachable. This is the wine for summer!
2/2012: big bold floral nose, unmistakably Muscat. Despite spending all its time on the heavy lees, the nose is already fully open. The palate is elegant, displaying long lasting white flower aromas. The little sweetness helps to cover the natural bitterness of this grape and makes it the perfect wine for a summer spicy dish.
3/2013: this wine hasn’t changed much, except perhaps more subtle and refined. Beautiful fruity inviting nose.

Muscat Grand Cru Goldert 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alc: 13.2 ° alc; RS: 6.5 g/l; 4.9 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2; Yields: 53 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2025+; Average age of the vines: 24 years; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous, facing East, gentle slope. 90 % Muscat d’Alsace, 10 % Ottonel. Indice 1.
The choice we made to move towards the Muscat d’Alsace grape (small berry Muscat), and drop gradually the Ottonel, made sense in a vintage like 2011. Being later ripening and capable to keep a more interesting acidity, the small berry variety is more adapted to a warm and precocious vintage like 2011. The Goldert vineyard was harvested perfectly healthy and at an ideal ripeness. It doesn’t take much for this wine to keep some sweetness, but in 2011, the fermentation went slowly to the end leaving little sugars.
2/2013: the nose is vibrant and intense, but shows the vineyard character strongly. There are of course some exotic fruits and floral aromas to be found, but the limestone soil takes over quickly and brings minerality. The palate is vibrant, racy, and zesty with a fantastic saline and crisp finish. If it wasn’t for the telltale aromatics, most would think of a Riesling.

Riesling 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 3/2012; Alcohol: 12° alc; Residual sweetness: 12 g/l; 4.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 79 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2016; Average age of the vines: 32 years; Terroir: gravely/silt on valley floor and calcareous hillsides; Indice 2.
This Riesling always originates from our younger vines (10 to 15 years old) from the Herrenweg area and valley gravelly soils. In 2011, the harvest was quite generous, but the grapes showed ideal ripeness and beautiful colors. Despite a very early picking and totally healthy grapes, this is the wine in this range that fermented the slowest; however, due to the style of the vintage, it developed intense fruity character.
2/2012: the nose is already classic Riesling in a very aromatic, fruity style. It isn’t the very mineral type of Riesling but more an easy to understand soft nose. The palate is medium long, showing a nice fresh sapid acidity and medium round finish. The sweetness is perhaps higher than expected, but it doesn’t really impact the style too much. Overall it is an excellent food wine.

Riesling Terroir d’Alsace 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 13.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 5 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2; Yields: 67 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2023; Average age of the vines:  28 years; Terroir: gravely soil/silt; granite and marl; Indice 1
At harvest time we did fear that we would not be able to produce this wine as the ripeness levels in the Herrenweg area, where these grapes originate from, was quite high in 2011. Despite the fact we can harvest much earlier than in the past (bio-dynamic helps to reach earlier physiological ripeness); in 2011 the grapes were much riper than usual. The fermentation started slowly but eventually went through after a full year of activity, to our great satisfaction.
2/2013: delicate mineral nose with wet stones aromas and classic young Riesling citrus fruit. Still quite restrained (long lees contact influence) and will benefit from aeration. The palate comes almost like a surprise: ample juicy rich with a nice ripe acidity. The ripeness of the grapes really does show in the wine and gives a harmonious pleasurable finish.

Riesling Calcaire 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling: 2/2013; Alcohol: 13.7 °alc; Residual sweetness: 4.5 g/l; 3.9 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2; Yields: 70 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period 2015-2023; Average age of vines: 37 years; Terroir: Limestone/calcareous/siliceous, facing East and South. Indice 1.
The new regulation regarding the production of village wines became effective with the 2011 harvest. Today, only 13 villages are classified in Alsace. The village of Gueberschwihr has the quality potential to be amongst this group and we would surely have enough back vintages to prove the point. Sadly, however, in order to be accepted, the demand should be made by a ‘significant’ number of people producing/selling Gueberschwihr. Today we are alone without any support from other producers, so we cannot any longer called this wine with the name of Gueberschwihr and we have renamed it ‘Calcaire’ or limestone, which is the nature of the soil. The 2011 was made from impeccable ripe and healthy grapes that fermented dry after a whole year.
2/2013: juicy fruity, citrus nose. Expressive and extremely inviting. Velvety palate that finishes on a beautiful ripe acidity, hiding the density of the wine. The saline touch is still hiding behind a nice lively texture and it will take some time for this wine to develop more classic limestone minerality. True Gueberschwihr…

Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 13.8°alc; Residual sweetness: 5.7 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 65 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2026; Average age of the vines:  46 years; Terroir: gravely soil/silt; Indice 1.
The Herrenweg in Turckheim, or the ‘Road of the men/soldiers’ is named like that because it is located along the ancient roman way that linked Colmar to the pass in the Vosges mountain. Its Terroir is made of fine sand, silt and big pebbles which has good drainage capacity and benefit from a warm climate that gives an aromatic intensity to the wines. The age of the vines is paramount as deeper roots will be less under the influence of troubled weather and they can find more minerality in a soil naturally poorer in such elements. 2011 was a favourable vintage for this Terroir as rainfalls, a serious limiting factor in such soils, were very regular during the growing season. The wine fermented slowly over a year to dryness, in classic ancient oak casks.
2/2013 :  intense nose, typical of this vineyard with fresh citrus fruit and a nice mineral presence that gets more and more intense vintage after vintage as the vines get older. The palate is generous and ample right from the start with a juicy sapid character that brings lots of pleasure. The acidity is well integrated, without excess, and the finish is fresh, dry and harmonious.

Riesling Heimbourg 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 12.55° alc; Residual sweetness: 17 g/l; 4.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.2; Yields: 59 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2026; Planted in 1994; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing south, southwest, steep slope. Indice 2
The Heimbourg is a small single vineyard located on the village of Turckheim; its facing varies from south-west to west, on well drained steep slopes of Oligocene limestone. According to the steepness of the slope, the mother rock is more or less covered by marl. The Riesling is planted on the steepest part of the Heimbourg (50%) which is also the warmest. In a hot year like 2011, the ripeness can be high, making it more difficult for the yeasts to ferment. This wine wasn’t harvested with a potential alcohol any higher than many other Riesling produces in 2011, but the yeasts in this wine must have been lazier, leaving more residual sweetness.
2/2013 : first quite closed and mineral, the nose opens progressively on fruity aromas while staying very delicate, thanks to the cooling effect of the limestone. The mouth is vivacious, shows stony flavors and it takes a long aeration to finally have a glimpse of the fruity potential of this wine. Lower alcohol means a very delicate mouth touch and it is only on the finish that the sweetness starts to kick in. Sometimes tasting like an indice 3, I settled for 2 because I believe that with age the sweetness will blend into the wine.

Riesling Clos Häuserer 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling: 2/2013; Alcohol:  13.1° alc; Residual sweetness: 8 g/l; 4.4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1, Yields: 57 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2031+; Vineyard planted in 1973; Terroir: Calcareous Marl (Oligocene period). Very gentle slope. Indice 1.
The Clos Hauserer vineyard is located right under the limit of the Grand Cru Hengst and shares in fact a common vineyard name with one of the best part of the Hengst: Soedlen. This little 1.2ha clos is along a small path called the Hauserer Weg, which gave the name to our parcel. The vines are growing on a deep marl soil on top of a calcareous Oligocene mother rock. This interesting combination brings a fabulous structure to the Riesling and makes it grow slower, even in warmer vintage. The 2011 harvest was very healthy and the yeasts managed to ferment most of the sugars.
2/2013: the nose is so characteristic of limestone: stony elements, minerals, almost sea air associated with the ripe fruit aromas which are the signature of 2011 wines. The palate opens quickly on wet stones and there is a sense of firm structure and that the wine is clearly not giving everything today. Long finish, dense dry with great acidity.

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 13.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 4.3 g/l; 4.4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.1; Yields: 50 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036+; Average age of the vines: 37 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous (Jurassic), facing southeast, medium/steep slope. Indice 1.
The Windsbuhl was the last vineyard to complete flowering in 2011, so it is no surprise that it was the last Riesling harvested on the estate. A late bud break or flowering is the result of a cooler local climate (Windsbuhl is closed to the forest and higher in altitude), and an even later harvest is the result of a cooler soil (limestone). It is always quite intriguing to see, almost every vintage, how the Riesling remains healthy and the other grapes (Pinot-Gris and Gewurztraminer) catch the noble rot. This allows for a perfect ripeness, but still within reach of making dry wines.
2/2013: extremely delicate mineral nose. Light touch of toasty/burnt lees, but then it opens up on vibrant citrus and white fruits. The palate has a smooth mineral delicate structure, but quickly firms up around the acidity. Great structure! Saline finish with beautiful ripe integrated acidity. Truthful to the Windsbuhl, this Riesling should be kept a long time!

Riesling Grand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 14.2° alc; Residual sweetness: 6.4 g/l; 3.6 g/l acidity H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 34 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036+; Average age of the vines: 49 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks, facing south, very steep slope. Indice 1.
The Riesling vines are spread all over the 5.5ha of the Clos-Saint-Urbain in the Rangen Grand Cru vineyard. Being located at the opening of a cold and higher altitude valley, the Rangen enjoys a late ripening climate, but eventually catches up in October, when the steep slope (90%) and dark warm volcanic rocks allow the grapes to reach a high ripeness level. 2011 was a relatively uneventful vintage regarding diseases in the Rangen and the grapes were harvested perfectly healthy. The climate during harvest time surprised us, because we didn’t expect the grapes to ripen that quickly, but the wine fermented dry after a full year of activity.
2/2013: like most vintages, the nose is unmistakable Rangen, showing intense flinty, aromatic herbal aromas associated with a discreet exotic fruit, signature of 2011. With such a nose, one can only expect a powerful attack that fills the mouth with wet stones aromas and some smoke. The palate is rich, powerful with a good balance that finishes almost on a dry delicate structure. This wine hides its richness and will age very well.

Riesling Grand Cru Brand 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 14.2 ° alc; Residual sweetness: 3.6 g/l; 3.7 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 50 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2031+; Average age of vines: 30 years; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 1.
The Brand Grand Cru, followed by the Herrenweg vineyard at its bottom, is our most precocious Riesling vineyard (first to bud-break, flowering…). Granite soil warms up very quickly. The growth of a vine is directly related to the temperature at root level, which explains the precocity of this site. In a vintage as early ripening as 2011, we never hoped to be able to achieve a dry Riesling Brand. Despite a very high ripeness, a perfect healthy crop and ideal weather probably allowed the wild yeasts to ferment this Brand to almost the last grams of sugar. It took a long time! But the job was done.
2/2013: one would expect this wine to be a fruit bomb, maybe in a few years, but for the moment it displays a complex nose, quite discreet, with wet stones and ripe fruits. There is intensity there, so there is no hiding that this wine will also be long and persisting on the palate. The dry finish is superb, as this vintage has a natural roundness and velvety character. No doubt this wine will age without any problem.

Riesling Grand Cru Brand Vieilles Vignes 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 14° alc; Residual sweetness: 18 g/l; 3.8 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 48 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036+; Average age of vines: 61 years; Terroir: Biotite granite, facing south. Steep slope. Indice 2.
Most vintages, the vines located on the Schnekelsbourg side of the Brand Grand Cru do benefit from slightly richer soils (some marl under the granite), which combined to the solar exposition and warm climate, can explain some noble rot development. If we feel that it is too different and the ripeness is much higher than the rest of the Brand, we do separate theses grapes. Yeasts are very responsive to some factors like botrytis and potential alcohol, and a slight increase can explain a totally different balance. Despite a powerful fermentation, it was impossible to obtain a drier wine and the wine found its balance around some residual sweetness.
2/2013: nice intense ripe fruit nose. Despite some beautiful aromatics already showing through, this wine has the subtle restrained character typical of a Grand Cru, meaning that there will be much more to come in the future. The palate is unctuous, harmonious long and finishes with a velvety structure. It doesn’t really feel sweet, and at the moment the wine is still looking for its final balance. It will definitely be an indice 2 in some years, but, for the moment, we could think of three.

Pinot-Gris 2011 (Lot 150) - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 3/2012; Alcohol: 14.7° alc; Residual sweetness: 12 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.4; Yields: 69 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2018; Average age of the vines: 20 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor. Indice 2.
No Herrenweg produced in 2011, so it is easy to guess that this wine is made mostly from these grapes. Despite trying to prevent over ripeness by harvesting the grapes early, it was harvested at good ripeness and we were actually happy to see the fermentation slowing down before the wine was completely dry. Pinot Gris was the most worrying grape as we could see an unbelievable amount of wasps and bees in the vineyards early September. Strict selections were necessary in order to keep out unwanted rot.
2/2012: at this early stage, the nose is still a mix of nutty/toasty flavors and some buttery/lees character from the fermentation. There is no doubt that this wine will open up quickly as the palate is already showing very well. It is a serious varietal wine, with good power and nice velvety finish. The sweetness is quite discreet, and it is also a wine very easy to use with food.

Pinot-Gris 2011 (Lot 151) - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 14.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 5 g/l; 3.3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6, Yields: 59 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2023; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk & Oligocene limestone, gypsum marl, gravelly soil. South to south-east facing. Indice 1.
In 2011 we took the decision to harvest a few grapes early from various limestone vineyard, in order to avoid them catching noble rot or botrytis. Pinot-Gris was a grape that could develop unwanted rot too early in 2011. All these grapes originating from the Clos Jebsal, Heimbourg and Clos Windsbuhl vineyards were blended together and eventually produced this wine. We eventually also added our Pinot-Gris Vieilles Vignes that we didn’t want to keep as such in 2011 (it usually is a very sweet wine). We were also looking for a ripeness level that would guarantee that the yeasts would ferment the wine the driest possible. It took time, but eventually the wine fermented through.
9/2012: the nose shows typical limestone influence, with nice nutty, toasty and slight mineral influence. The palate is powerful and dense and aeration brings out some waxy/honey character as well as ripe fruits. The finish is quite velvety. Quite a rich wine!

Pinot-Gris Calcaire 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 14.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 17.5 g/l; 4.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.3; Yields: 39 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2026+; Average age of the vines: 26 years; Terroir: marl-calcareous, facing west. Indice 2.
All the limestone vineyards on our estate are included into good to excellent single vineyards. This Calcaire 2011 is made solely from grapes that originate from the Heimbourg vineyard which has clearly strongly influenced this wine. The Pinot-Gris is planted on the shallower and higher in altitude section of this vineyard. The lack of top soil makes it more aggressive for the vines (very high pH at root level: 9.5) and help this grape to retain a great structure. Despite the absence of noble rot and relatively early harvest, this wine kept some residual sweetness.
2/2013: the nose shows subtle fruity aromas (peach, apricots) as well as honey and sweet sap. Neither the color (pale gold) nor the discreet nose can announce the richness of the palate. Like many 2011, one must wait a certain time to see the wine opening up. The first sensation on the palate is a light roundness, quickly balanced by a ripe acidity that brings and enjoyable vivacity to the mouth. The finish shows some interesting tannins which also help to keep the richness of the wine in harmony. Good ageing potential.

Pinot-Gris Rotenberg 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 2/2013; Alcohol: 15.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 4 g/l; 3,4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3,4; Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2031; Average age of vines: 30 years; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous. West to northwest facing. Steep slope. Indice 1.
The Rotenberg hill is located on top of the Hengst and eventually goes west to north. On the smaller west, north-west side, the soil is dark red (rich in iron) and enjoys a cool climate due to the facing, altitude (300m) and proximity of the forest. The Pinot family is the best choice possible in this vineyard, and that is why we chose to plant Auxerrois and Pinot-Gris in this poor limestone soil. Less precocity doesn’t mean less richness. The Rotenberg produces small yields of concentrated grapes which can also develop noble rot. In 2011 we didn’t allow for any rot development, so the grapes were harvested healthy. The fermentation was one of the slowest of the cellar, but, to my great surprise, when to the end leaving no sugars.
2/2013: the nose shows intense sharp citrus and white fruits aromas (pears, peach). Strong lees influence with nutty roasted character. It will probably need some time to open up. The palate is tightly packed and powerful. The limestone brings a nice form of austerity, enhanced by the very dry character of this wine. Despite the power, the finish is a harmonious and fresh with nice saline texture.

Pinot-Gris Thann 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 16.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 17.1 g/l; 4.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 30 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2031; Average age of the vines: 30 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, steep slope. Indice 2.
Just like the Riesling, the Pinot-Gris is planted all over the Clos-Saint-Urbain on various altitudes. The oldest part dates back to the early 1960’s and the rest was planted between 1978 and 1989. These later planted vineyards were often assembled with the oldest vines, except in vintages where there would be a major difference in style or quality. The volcanic soil of the Rangen is located just above a river at the exit of a valley and is therefore prone to botrytis development due to the fog often present in autumn. This was particularly important in 2011. The Pinot-Gris Thann is only produced on the younger vines that developed noble rot (the oldest ones were harvested very healthy) which explains a little more residual sweetness despite a long and powerful fermentation.
2/2013: intense golden color. The nose is powerful and reveals the origin of the grapes: smoke, flint, dried apricots and the usual aromas associated with noble rot like honey, dried fruits, cacao… The palate is powerful and dense. There is for the moment an interesting fight between the residual sweetness and the Terroir. The acidity and the noble bitterness work together to reduce the sweetness sensation that almost disappear on the finish.

Pinot-Gris Grand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2013; Alcohol: 15.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 5 g/l; 3.4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036+; Average age of the vines: 48 years; Terroir: Sedimentary volcanic rocks. South facing, steep slope. Indice 1.
Only the oldest vines of Pinot-Gris planted in 1963 in the Rangen were used to produce the Grand Cru in 2011. Less sensitive to rot (noble rot), they produced a wine that had the potential to become much drier. We took the decision to separate the old vines from the ones planted in the period 1978-1986 in order to respect the two very different styles of wines these vines produced. The difference isn’t just on the richness/sweetness of the wines but also on the complexity brought by older vines. It is very difficult to produce a dry Pinot-Gris and actually quite rare at the top level where it is more frequent to find sweeter wines. The Rangen is capable to bring structure to a grape variety that can sometimes be too soft. The fermentation was very quick (4 weeks) and a long total lees contact was necessary in order to round up its powerful constitution.
2/2013: pale yellow gold color. The nose is classic Rangen with all its mineral and smoky intensity. Still quite restrained and without any varietal influence, the palate shows right from the start a great subtle volcanic influence and a quiet strength, still on its reserve but very persisting. This wine basically doesn’t change once open for weeks! The character of the vineyard shows more on the palate for the moment. The finish is dry and pure, without any influence of over ripe character. It does remind me a lot of the 1990!

Pinot-Gris Clos Windsbuhl 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 14.4° alc; Residual sweetness: 28 g/l; 4.3 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5, Yields: 34 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036; Average age of the vines: 42 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous, south/southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 3.
The late ripening limestone soil of the Clos Windsbuhl is often favorable to the development of noble rot. However, in a solar and warm year like 2011 that would probably see the acidity fall down quickly, we preferred not to harvest the Pinot-Gris too late. All the younger vines of this grape were already harvested earlier and added to our varietal Pinot-Gris (lot 151). Only the oldest vines on the Clos were used to produce this wine, harvested end of September with little noble rot. This vineyard has the capacity to give a solid structure to the wine because of the smaller yields and nice minerality, even in a more generous vintage like 2011.
2/2013: one can find all the subtlety and delicacy of the Windsbuhl in this refined fruity and mineral nose (wet stones, iodine). The high ripeness of the grapes is almost undetectable on the nose. The palate, however, shows a round structure well balanced by a ripe acidity that brings a sapid easy-to-drink style. There is a great resistance to oxidation that eventually brings more smoky and toasty aromas. The Windsbuhl limestone definitely brought a great harmony to this wine.

Gewurztraminer 2011 (Lot 170) - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 3/2012; Alcohol: 14.1° alc; Residual sweetness: 9 g/l; 3.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6; Yields: 80 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2012-2018; Average age of the vines: 33 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor, marl limestone; Indice 1.
This wine is made from a real mix from different origin, with most of the grapes originating from the Herrenweg vineyard. Just like his predecessor in 2009, the idea was to obtain an elegant style of Gewurztraminer without too much richness. This would have been easier to do in a cooler vintage, so at the beginning of the harvest, we would have almost wished for worse weather in order to give us more time. I believe that we succeeded quite well, and the wine fermented evenly until it reached a nice balance. Probably the fact that the crop was slightly bigger than usual helped us in that direction. Skin ripeness was excellent in 2011, so this style of Gewurztraminer is not impacted by dry tannins, allowing for an earlier bottling.
2/2012: the nose shows classic rose/floral aromatics, without excess though, and it is just starting to develop more interesting spicy/peppery notes. The fact that it spent the whole time on gross lees, helps to reduce the over varietal characteristic of this grape, that can sometime be excessive. The palate is long, elegant, feels dry and like any other wine in this category is already an excellent food wine.
3/2013: nose fully developed now, showing intense floral aromas. Pleasurable wine now with a nice dry structure.

Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 14.3° alc; Residual sweetness: 14 g/l; 3.1 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.5; Yields: 43 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2023; Average age of vines: 28 years; Terroir: calcareous limestone/silicium; Indice 2.
This will be the last Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr produced on the estate. Just like the Riesling, this little vineyard, very close to the Grand Cru Goldert, will be incorporated in our Gewurztraminer Calcaire as of the 2012 vintage. Being alone to use the village name as a wine designation in Gueberschwihr, we cannot present a file that is complete and representative enough (quantities are too small) to the INAO. We should have done this already in 2011, but we were not actually prepared to do it and postponed the blending to the 2012 vintage.
2/2013: delicate nose showing citrus fruit (pink grapefruit) and some exotic fruits. The palate leaves quickly the varietal style to reveal more spicy/peppery aromas. The little residual sweetness is very well integrated and the finish is constructed around a delicate structure where tannins help to bring a drier mouth feel.

Gewurztraminer Calcaire 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 13.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 36 g/l; 3.4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6; Yields: 58 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2013-2026+; Average age of vines: 30 years. Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing west, severe slope. Indice 4.
As of the 2011 vintage, there will be no more Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim, and just like the Gueberschwihr and for the same reasons, this wine will now be called ‘Calcaire’. Sadly, the few remaining winegrowers still active in the ‘Village of the Winegrowers’ (translation of Wintzenheim) are not interested in keeping the name of the village in their viticulture heritage despite the fact Wintzenheim is the home of a few very interesting vineyards. In order to preserve it, a communal action would have been necessary and also accept to produce less (Village maximum is 72hl/ha versus Alsace which is 80hl/ha). This wine was harvested early in order to avoid excessive ripeness and the grapes were quite healthy with little noble rot. However, potential ripeness was quite high! Despite a vigorous fermentation, the wine finished with some residual sugars.
2/2013: pale yellow color. This wine shows today an incredibly refined nose with great aromatic persistence. Despite a high ripeness, the nose shows delicate and refreshing aromatics, typical of this wine, where ancient rose, leather and musky spices combine together. The palate is elegant as well as firm. The residual sweetness does not bring any heaviness, on the opposite; they allow a better integration of the tannic structure. Great resistance to evolution in an open bottle that shows good ageing potential as well.

Gewurztraminer Turckheim 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2013; Alcohol: 12.5° alc; Residual sweetness: 76.5 g/l; 3.7 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6; Yields: 57 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2026; Average age of the vines: 38 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor; Indice 5
The gravely soil of the Herrenweg were recognised for a long time for their aptitude to produce aromatic and fruity Gewurztraminer wines. This grape variety needs, more than any other one planted in Alsace, a perfect physiological ripeness and therefore a little bit more sunshine and heat. 2011 was favourable for high sugar ripeness, but in order to avoid excesses, it was important of being able to limit yields and choosing carefully the harvest date. Only the very old vines were harvested as VT with noble rot, the rest was presented into the Turckheim label. In Turckheim, at the opposite of Wintzenheim or Gueberschwihr, there are a few winegrowers who want to keep the tradition of using the village name, so it will be possible to continue to make Turckheim wines in the future.
2/2013: the color is pale yellow, despite a high ripeness level of the grapes. The nose doesn’t show such richness and is even maybe a little bit closed, only distilling a few floral aromas (roses, geranium). The palate is unctuous and pleasant, there is not heaviness as the alcohol is quite low for a Gewurztraminer. Like many 2011 wines, it will age nicely. Perfect with many spicy dishes!

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 13.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 57g/l; 3.6 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.6; Yields: 29 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2029; Average age of vines: planted in 1983; Terroir: Oligocene calcareous, facing west, steep slope. Indice 5.
The Gewurztraminer is located on the latest and coolest part of the Heimbourg, facing west with a little less direct sunshine, where the marl-limestone soils are actually the deepest. These characteristics were ideal in 2011, because the grapes achieved high ripeness but also retained great acidity. The fermentation was relatively fast, but the wine kept some important sweetness. We have sadly decided to pull out this vineyard after the 2012 crop, as some wood disease is decimating the vines.
2/2013: yellow pale color, which, like many 2011, doesn’t indicate the richness of the wine. The nose is still a little timid but opens up quickly to show profound floral aromas (ancient roses, lily) and a pleasant sweetness sensation. At the beginning, the palate shows delicacy and progressively the power of the wine gets more and more present. It is then possible to find the spicy notes and structure so typical of limestone. Tannins and acidity show good ripeness and an excellent ageing potential. The structure brought by the vineyard dominates the sweetness.

Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 13.8° alc; Residual sweetness: 52g/l; 3.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 48 hl/ha; Optimum drinking: 2015-2031+; Average age: 41 years; Terroir: Muschelkalk calcareous, southeast facing. Medium slope. Indice 5.
When we took the Clos Windsbuhl in 1987, we never imagined how successful the Gewurztraminer would become in this vineyard and how it would capture the delicate structure that characterizes the place. At the time when Alsace is defining what grape variety should be planted where (and which ones would be forbidden), this example shows how much one should be wary of preconceived ideas. Surely, Gewurztraminer needs more sunshine, but the Windsbuhl compensate a cooler climate by a capacity to let the grapes on the vines for longer time, eventually bringing also a better physiological ripeness.
2/2013: the first nose is still a little closed, dominated by spices, smoke and a light torrefaction that add a nice complexity. This is a Windsbuhl which is showing strong ‘Terroir’ characteristics and takes time to open up, but once that is done, it reveals intense citrus fruits, ripe exotic fruits (pineapple, litchi) and more spices (coriander, cloves). The palate is delicate and is capable to integrate the sweetness that almost vanishes on the finish. The tannic richness brings also a saline sensation. The wine almost doesn’t change even if the bottle is opened for days. Great ageing potential.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Goldert 2011 - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 13.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 62 g/l; 3.0 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 39 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2026; Average age/vines: 28 years; Terroir: Oolithic calcareous facing East. Gentle slope. Indice 5.
The Goldert has a very discreet topography and is hiding amongst the surrounding hills. Its gentle east facing slope would not catch the tourist travelling on the wine road, but the expert eye would surely notice its beautiful golden limestone soil that is responsible for the quality of the wines and long-time high reputation. Associated with a cooler and less precocious climate, the Goldert is one of the latest Gewurztraminer to be harvested on the estate. The soil is deep and rich in marl; therefore the vigor of the vines and the yields can be important and need to be controlled. The 2011 vintage condition were perfect for this vineyard which was able to produce a rich intense wine.
2/2013: faithful to himself, the Goldert shows delicate and persisting floral/fruity aromas (roses, litchi) as well as announcing a rich wine on the palate. The influence of the Goldert Grand Cru is on how fine and complex these aromas are presented. Most ordinary vineyard with such intensity would not be able to stay elegant. After some aeration, minerality kicks in (wet stones). The mouth is generous and expressive. The sweetness is well present right at the attack, without heaviness, and a noble bitterness allows for harmonious balance and ageing potential.

Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2011 Vendange Tardive - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date 9/2012; Alcohol: 13.6° alc; Residual sweetness: 71 g/l; 3.5 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 39 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2015-2036; Vineyard planted in 1983; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
True to itself, this little 1.3ha Clos is located on a gypsum fault line, rich in marl, at the bottom of the Brand vineyard, where all conditions required to produce noble rot are presents. The Clos Jebsal is the only vineyard on the estate where we decided to do a Selection de Grains Nobles at the same time as we harvested this Vendange Tardive. The warm and sunny climate of 2011 wasn’t ideal for acidity preservation, so we didn’t aim for the ultra-rich style but more for a perfect balance between acidity/sweetness/alcohol, so this late harvest could remain an elegant wine.
2/2013: the nose shows great delicacy despite still being quite discreet, without the classic heavy noble rot influence. The pale yellow color is also quite unusual for a late harvest wine. Concentrating on the nose, it is possible to see subtle floral aromas (lily) and a complex minerality (wet stones, clay). The grape variety is hard to recognize. From start to finish, the palate shows a pleasant sweetness again without heavy botrytis character. Long lees contact has left also some nutty/toasty aromas in the wine. Moderate acidity, but the wine expresses a quiet easiness and delicious mouth-feel, probably due to the high phenolic ripeness of the grapes.

Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim Vieilles Vignes 2011 Vendange Tardive - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alcohol: 13° alc; Residual sweetness: 98 g/l; 3.4 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.7; Yields: 38 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2014-2031+; Average age of the vines: 65 years; Terroir: gravely soil on valley floor.
The largest part of the Herrenweg vineyard is planted with the Gewurztraminer grape variety that likes the heat generated by the pebbles in the soil. Although the limestone vineyards are usually the ideal choice for gaining structure and ageing potential, one has to recognise that these old vines must grow their roots quite deep to find such minerality and concentration in the wines. Surely, bio-dynamic preparation and adequate soil cultivation must reinforce this influence. Harvested at high level of ripeness and high proportion of noble rot (50%), the fermentation was in fact not that long (1 month) to end up with a sweet balance (vin liquoreux) not that far from some SGNs.
2/2013: bright yellow color. The nose shows great aromatic intensity with fresh exotic fruits (litchi), citrus zests and an overall sensation of maturity while the botrytis remains discreet. The palate is an unctuous continuation of the nose. The Herrenweg has a restraint influence on the wine, allowing the Gewurztraminer to speak out in an elegant fashion. It finishes on an attractive round sweet mouth-feel, superbly balanced with a nice citrusy acidity. Although this wine is already very approachable, it will benefit from extra ageing.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2011 Vendange Tardive - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date: 9/2012; Alc: 12.7° alc; Residual sweetness: 102 g/l; 3.2 g/l H2SO4, pH: 3.8; Yields: 25 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: 2016-2041+; Average age of the vines: 60 years; Terroir: Marl-Oligocene calcareous. South-south-east facing, medium to steep slope.
The Hengst Grand Cru vineyard is located in a warm, dry and precocious area in Alsace, very close to Colmar and protected by the proximity of the Vosges mountain range. Its south-east facing increases the effect of the sun as the grapes are exposed to sun rays early in the morning. Hengst never suffers of drought because water reserves in the marl-limestone soil are sufficient, but it means that botrytis develops late if any. Often harvested very ripe, the Hengst is rarely a Vendange Tardive because of the increased resistance of the old vines to rot development. When noble rot develops sufficiently, it does allow for the production of magnificent late harvest wines like this 2011.
2/2013: the nose shows already at this early stage all the complexity of this great Gewurztraminer vineyard: intense spicy, leather, minerals, wax/honey, ripe litchi, mangoes… the list would be to long and it gets only more intense after a long aeration. The aromatic profile on the nose and palate is very similar to an SGN, but unlike a real SGN, the botrytis is very discreet and the ‘Terroir’ eventually dominates. The palate is unctuous, persisting and finishes with a surprising mineral influence, typical of the Hengst. The sweetness is important, but necessary in order to create a harmony with the strength of this wine. Great ageing potential.

Pinot-Gris Clos Jebsal 2011 Sélection de Grains Nobles - Zind-Humbrecht
Bottling date 9/2013; Alc: ° alc; Residual sweetness:  g/l ;  g/l H2SO4, pH: ; Yields: 22 hl/ha; Optimum drinking period: ?/?; Vineyard planted in 1983; Surface: 1.3 ha; Terroir: Grey marls and gypsum. South facing, very steep slope.
Made from an early October grape selection, this wine is the only SGN produced on the estate in 2011, nevertheless considered as a record year for VT and SGN production in Alsace. The climate was favourable for obtaining rich sweet wines (heat, sunshine and humidity), but we chose to limit the production of such wine to the only vineyards capable to keep a great structure. The deep cooler marl soil of the Jebsal allow for keeping better structure and acidity in the wine. Made from the third selection (the first one was declassified in our varietal Pinot-Gris and the second made the Vendange Tardive), this wine was harvested at the classic balance of 167° Oechslés (circa 23.5° potential). Still having less acidity than high acid vintages like 2010, the wine fermented faster for an SGN to reach a slightly higher alcohol than usual (for an SGN).
2/2013: the nose carries the classic noble rot aromatics (acacia honey, bee wax…) but also has an expressive fruity character (peach nectar, apricots, dry fruits…). The palate is big, round and sweet with a pleasant satisfying texture, already quite accessible. The finish shows some nice acidity and some fruit zests. Probably will be bottled in September 2013.