Zind-Humbrecht 1999 - Vintage notes

The 1999 Vintage at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
(text from Olivier Humbrecht)

The 1999 vintage was under the sign of water ! The average rainfall in Colmar is 21 inches/year (Colmar is the second driest city in France after Perpignan), and in 1999 this was reached in less than 6 months. Budbreak was normal middle of April, but the following humid and warm weather of May helped an early flowering in the first two weeks of June. The vines grew very quickly under strong mildew condition (the earliest and strongest attack that my father was able to witness). This certainly explains some smaller yields in a few vineyards. Strangely, but luckily, the flowering was still early and homogenous, except for the Muscat grape variety.

In June and July we were in constant battle against diseases and weeds that just loved the humidity and warmth. Early August the weather became more agreeable and from end of August until the third week of September, the climate was exceptionally dry and warm, well suited for a good and homogenous maturation of the grapes, sometimes causing some water stress problems.

Just prior harvest, everybody was very optimistic. Great maturity and perfect health conditions as well as good acidity levels in the grapes made us hope for great quality despite the huge volume expected for the harvest. From the end of September until the end of the harvest (middle of November for us), the weather was again split between nice periods and rains. 1999 is certainly a winegrower’s  year, because the quality of the vineyard work all along the year, the importance of a small yield in 1999 and the care and respect given to the grapes were all determinant to obtain a great wine. 1999 has a real great potential and many of the wines produced on the estate have little to envy to previous vintages.

Most of the wines of 1999 have good ripeness levels, some noble rot influence in the richer wines and quality acidity. The weather conditions didn’t allow the production of many sweet wines.

On the Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, the average yield was 22 hl/ha on the Grand Cru vineyards and 42 hl/ha on the AOC vineyards, and like the previous years, no chaptalization.

Note : Oe=Degree Oechslé at harvest time, pot= potential alcohol at harvest, alc= acquired alcohol, SR= Residual sweetness, hl/ha= hectolitre/hectare, 2001...=date optimum. Mise: date of bottling.

SylvaneR 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 87° Oechslés (11.8° pot), 11.8° alc, dry, 85hl/ha, 2001-2004
In 1998, we were able to purchase a small perfectly located vineyard planted with Sylvaner in a Grand Cru vineyard, relatively renowned  in the South of Alsace. This variety is not allowed in Grand Cru vineyards, but this wine has a surprisingly rich structure, despite the size of the crop (and the vines were pruned extremely short, but this is Sylvaner!). The nose is very mineral, the palate feels quite rich, not betraying the volcanic origin of the grapes. The vineyard was pulled out after the harvest.

Pinot d’Alsace 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 94° Oechslés (13.7° pot), 13.4° alc, 6 g/l SR, 50hl/ha, 2001-2006
This is our classic blend of Auxerrois, pinot-Blanc and Chardonnay, originating from our vineyards in the Herrenweg, Clos Windsbuhl and Rotenberg. The choice of these three grape varieties and three vineyards has been motivated by the will to vinify a Pinot d’Alsace as dry as possible but possessing length and richness and great natural acidity. The Auxerrois, mostly coming from the Herrenweg and Clos Windsbuhl brings the richness and maturity while the Auxerrois from the Rotenberg and the Chardonnay from the Clos Windsbuhl bring the acidity and structure to the balance of the wine. Astonishingly, it is this wine that was the last to finish to ferment, until the end of October 2000 ! The mouth feels totally dry and balanced with a crisp and ripe acidity. The flavours are mineral and spicy and already very powerful.

Muscat Herrenweg de Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 100° Oe (13.8° pot), 13.8° alc, dry, 54 hl/ha, 2001-2006
This old vineyard over 50 years old produced very ripe grapes in 1999. The precocity of the Herrenweg associated with the warm and dry weather of September helped to produce a powerful and aromatic wine, with no heaviness and a clean, intense dry finish. The palate feels round and smooth. This wine was bottled without filtration and can show some deposits which do not alter the quality of the wine. It is recommended to decant this wine.

Muscat Grand Cru Goldert 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 95° Oe (13.3° pot), 12.4° alc, 15 g/l SR, 55hl/ha, 2002-2010
This Grand Cru vineyard, planted mostly with the Muscat à petit grain (Muscat d’Alsace), produced a wine with strong mineral aromas and spices, which will need further ageing to be able to express the full potential of this wine. The nice acidity and maturity slowed the natural yeast, being unable to finish the fermentation and transform all the sweetness of the wine. Despite the long fermentation until July 2000, this wine still has some sweetness, perfectly balanced with the delicate structure, typical of the vineyard.

Riesling Gueberschwihr 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 96° Oe (13.1° pot), 12.8° alc, 10 g/l SR, 68 hl/ha, 2002-2010
We work 8 different small riesling vineyards in Gueberschwihr and they are all blended together in this wine. The warm and dry September weather was really beneficial for this kind of late ripening vineyard, allowing high ripeness with good acidity. The nose, even quite mineral, is already open and is associated with a generous structure. The finish feels rich and relatively dry, it is a wine for drinking in the near future.

Riesling Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 98° Oe (13.4° pot), 13.1° alc, 9 g/l SR, 54 hl/ha, 2002-2008.
This wine is produced from our younger vines in the Brand vineyard (18 years average). It shows the classic granitic minerality. The nose is already intense and aromatic and shows the potential of the vintage. The palate has a real structure for ageing and a great ripe acidity that enhance the mineral quality of the flavours.

Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 101° Oe (114.2° pot), 13.4° alc, 14 g/l SR, 40 hl/ha, 2001-2012
The average old age of these vines and the warm and precocious terroir of the Herrenweg always bring out the aromatic intensity and elegance in the Herrenweg wines. The 1999 is very ripe and shows some botrytis. The nose is therefore intense with strong fruity, ripe exotic aromas. The palate is already long and very open. This precocious character helps appreciating this wine early in its life, but thanks to its acidity it should age quite well.

Riesling Clos Häuserer – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 103 Oe (14.3°), 13.8° alc, 9g/lSR, 41 hl/ha, 2004-2015+
The Clos Hauserer is a small 1.19 ha vineyard located at the bottom of the Grand Cru Hengst and well protected from the north winds.  The soil results from an accumulation of marl on top of a young oligocen calcareous mother rock.. The quality of this soil and the warm climate of the Hauserer explains the strong minerality of the wine.  The 1999 has the strongest acidity of the vintage in Riesling but is perfectly balanced with the high maturity of the grapes, harvested totally healthy. On the palate, the wine is dry and shows a great ageing potential.

Riesling Heimbourg 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 99°Oe (13.8°pot), 12.6° alc, 20 g/l  SR, 39 hl/ha, 2002-2011.
This wine comes from the small south facing part of the Heimbourg, on a very steep slope (50%), neighbouring the Clos Jebsal. The vineyard always benefits  from a hot and healthy climate thanks to the wind which blow down from the Munster valley.  The young age of the vines is compensated by the small yields per vine (this vineyard is planted at 8000 vines/ha), and very small grapes that can ripen to a high level without botrytis.  The floral aromas  of the 99 vintage are carried by a well balanced palate, showing great acidity.  The slow fermentation was unable to transform all the residual sweetness, but the finish is crisp and well .structured.  The Heimbourg character now starts to show in this wine.

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 96° Oe (13.9° pot), 13.5° alc, 6.5 g/l SR, 39 hl/ha, 2005-2015+
The Clos Windsbuhl in Hunawihr benefits from a late ripening climate, responsible for a distinctive acidity and structure.  The soil is calcareous muschelkalk (sea-shell limestone).  It is an old rock, poor, well drained and having a very thin top-soil, allowing a good ripeness and strong expression of the soil in the wine.  The  1999 is certainly one of the most nervous and mineral wine in this vintage.  The aromas are already very expressive on the nose, and the finish is long, thanks to the ripeness of the grapes.   Long ageing potential.

Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 110° Oe (15.3° pot),   13.99 ° alc, 22.6 g/l SR, 35hl/ha, 2005-2015+
This grand cru soil, made of old biotite granite, enjoying a dry warm climate, produced the richest riesling grapes in 1999 (some noble rot present).  The fermentation was slow…until September 2000, this produced a powerful wine with high alcohol but balanced and harmonious as is expected of the Brand.  Qt<he nose is already showing plenty of fruit an floral aromas, the palate is both delicate and powerful and finishes on a very ripe, clean acidity.  The 1999 is slightly richer and rounder than the 1998, and will age forever.

Riesling Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 103° Oe (14.3° pot), 13.99 ° alc, 7 g/l SR, 21.5 hl/ha, 2005-2015+
The Rangen vineyard was really put to the test in 1999! (flowering, mildiou, first year of biodynamic cultivation). This incredible vineyard rose above all difficulties to produce a small crop of excellent quality grapes with high levels of ripeness.  The botrytis was particularly rare on the riesling, this combined with a very slow fermentation produced a powerful, dry wine strongly influenced by the volcanic soil  (flint, peat mineral character). A complex wine with great ageing potential. 

Pinot Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 111° Oe (15.5° pot), 13.6° alc, 32 g/l SR, 55hl/ha, 2005-2010
Although this vineyard is still very young  (8 years old), this wine shows all the quality and potential of the Herrenweg: aromatic and precocious in style.  Harvested very early, with some noble rot, it already has a deep golden colour and a nose which shows very definitely a ripe, pinot gris character: white fruits, quince, honey.  The quality of this wine lies in its expressive fruit and powerful, well balanced palate.  It is drinking well now but will certainly develop nicely during the next 5-10 years.

Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 109° Oe (15.1° pot), 12.2° alc, 49 g/l SR, 22 hl/ha, 2005-2010
Partly located in the Herrenweg and in Wintzenheim , the Pinot gris Vieilles Vignes benefits from a warm, precocious gravely soil.  The ultra small yield a direct result from the age of the vines (50 years+) and gives the grapes a strong resistance to botrytis. This explains the slightly lower potential than the Herrenweg, however, these are only numbers!  The palate shows a dense structure, great length and a much higher ageing potential.  The nose is very smoky and exhibits a strong toasted character, even though there is no new oak vinification.

Pinot Gris Rotenberg 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 106° Oe (14.7° pot), 12.82° alc, 31.6 g/l SR, 48 hl/ha, 2001-2010
This vineyard, small in size but huge in terms of quality, because of its soil (calcaire rich with iron), produced a highly aromatic, complete wine.  The nose is very open ( quince jelly, hazelnuts) and the elegant palate fines on a unctuous delicate texture.  The quality and maturity of the acidity gives a youthful freshness to the wine.

Pinot Gris Rotenberg Vieilles Vignes 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 117° Oe (16.3° pot),    12.2 ° alc, 63 g/l SR, 32 hl/ha, 2005-2012
This part of the Rotenberg if not assembled with the previous wine, usually produces a V.T. or a S.G.N.  In 1999 the maturity was high and there was a significant amount of botrytis.  The nose is incredibly open, showing overripe fruit character and honey flavours.  On the palate this wine comes close to a real vendanges tardives, the acidity is sharp, (the highest of the vintage) and balances perfectly with the residual sweetness, giving a delicate structure to the wine. It is this harmony which made us choose not to classify this wine as a V.T.

Pinot Gris Heimbourg 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 109° Oe (15.2° pot), 13.4° alc, 30 g/l SR, 28 hl/ha, 2005-2012.
Like the Rotenberg, this west facing calcareous hillside produced a small crop of a rich and concentrated wine.  Very mineral and smoky on the nose, the mouth has a rich and elegant structure which is very typical of this vintage.  The maturity is high, like 1997, but the wine tastes finer and better balanced.  The acidity keeps the wine fresh and hides the sweetness.

Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 109° Oe, (15.2° pot),  12.62 ° alc,   48 g/l SR, 35hl/ha, 2002-2012
Despite a very slow fermentation, this wine kept much of its residual sweetness.  The small yields and the poor nature of the soil (calcareous muschelkalk) provides a harmonious balance to the wine. The quality of this terroir brings delicacy and elegance to this rich wine as well as an aromatic complexity, showing already huge exotic flavours. The 1999 can be compared to the 1988, excepts perhaps with a more pronounced acidity.

Gewurztraminer 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 105° Oe, (14.6° pot), 14.2 ° alc, 7 g/l SR, 60hl/ha, 2001-2006.
The ideal maturity was perhaps more difficult to obtain in the gewurztraminer grape variety in  1999 in Alsace.  If this difficulty was surpassed, then 1999 is an interesting  vintage because it offers gewurztraminer which are well balanced, often quite dry with strong spicy/floral flavours.  This generic wine comes from various young vines, mostly in Turckheim.  Thanks to a correct maturity, it is ample, full-bodied and very dry, showing expressive floral/rose aromas on the nose.  It is a wine for early drinking.

Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 102° Oe (14.2° pot), 14.1° alc, 2 g/l SR, 58 hl/ha, 2000-2008.
The palate structure is very similar to the previous wine.  The age of the vines (+60 years), gives a spicy aromatic character and is relatively subtle for this grape variety.  The wild yeasts fermented this wine completely dry, but it has a rich, high in alcohol, fat finish. The great acidity (for gewurztraminer), brings the structure needed for long ageing.

Gewurztraminer Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 104° Oe, (14.4° pot), 13.1 ° alc, 23 g/l SR, 42 hl/ha, 2001-2010
This wine comes mostly from our vines located near our cellars in the Herrenweg vineyard (warm and gravely soil). The nose is very open, showing powerful spicy/rose aromas.  The very slow fermentation brought a rich and onctuous structure associated with a good acidity.  The finish shows classic gewurztraminer tannins and rich spiciness.

Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 104° Oe, (14.4° pot), 13.9 ° alc, 9.3 g/l SR, 46 hl/ha, 2002-2008
Wintzenheim is a village with a slightly cooler climate than Turckheim.  This explains why the major quality of the wines from Wintzenheim are their ageing potential.  Made entirely from our 20 year old vines in the Hengst, this very spicy/peppery wine has real ageing structure and a very dry, all most austere palate, typical of the rich limestone soils.

Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim Vieilles Vignes 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 102° Oe (14.3° pot), 12.6° alc, 26g/l SR, 25 hl/ha, 2002-2010.
Usually, this wine and the previous wine are blended together. In 1999, this vineyard was harvested slightly earlier and fermented very slowly, which made any blending impossible.  It is surely the age of the vines (50+years) and the gravely soil which explains a much rounder and softer palate, it has a aromatic rose scented nose.  The small yields will guarantee good ageing. 

Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 111° Oe (15.8° pot), 14.3° alc, 20g/l SR, 38 hl/ha, 2002-2012
Located at the opening of the Munster valley on gravely soil, well drained and quick to warm up, the Herrenweg of Turckheim enjoys an early maturing micro-climate that gives an aromatic quality to the wine.  The 1999 is certainly as aromatic as it will ever be, but it is a more its’ harmonious, aromatic and long palate which will impress today. This wine has all the ingredients for long ageing, but is truly delicious now.

Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 109° Oe (15.1° pot), 13° alc, 36 g/l SR, 42hl/ha, 2003-2012
The micro-climate of the Clos Windsbuhl is one of the coolest of all our vineyards. ( we often finish the harvest with the Rangen or the Clos Windsbuhl) In 1999 it was harvested very healthy with a nice maturity combined with the typical Windsbuhl acidity.  The very floral nose is delicate and , like the palate, has no heaviness at all.  The mouth structure would almost make the taster believe that the wine is bone dry.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Goldert 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 108° Oe (15° pot),   31.4 ° alc,   34 g/l SR, 45 hl/ha, 2003-2012
Right from the beginning of the harvest, the grapes from the Goldert were superb, very healthy and bright orange/red in colour which is so characteristic of this aromatic grape.  The olithic calcareous soil brings a nice structure to the wine, but most of all, an extraordinary powerful rose scented nose which when aired becomes more smoky and spicy. Like the Windsbuhl, the acid structure and tannins hide the residual sweetness and will enable the wine to age elegantly.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 116° Oe (116.2° pot), 14.9° alc, 22g/l SR, 32 hl/ha, 2003-2015
Gewurztraminer is a grape variety which needs maturity to express its quality and potential, but also a good acidity to be able to age harmoniously.  This contradiction is difficult to overcome, but not so in the Hengst vineyard.  The quality of the marl and rocky, calcareous under soil of this grand cru can give agreeable character while the exposition and climate always bring out high ripeness in the grape.  The 1999 is typical of this vineyard: really powerful, spicy and strong, muscular structure.

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 115° Oe (16° pot), 12.5° alc, 60 g/l SR, 20 hl/ha, 2004-2012
The gewurztraminer is planted in the richest part of the Heimbourg, on an average to steep, west facing slope.  The soil is similar to the Hengst. ( Oligocen calcareous)  The vines, now 20 years old, were well balanced and able to produce superb grapes and a small amount of V.T.   The healthier grapes produced this wine, still characterised by over ripeness (honey, bee wax, grapefruit...) and a delicate, sweet long palate.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1999 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 118° Oe (16.4° pot), 14.8° alc, 28 g/l SR, 26hl/ha, 2005-2015+
Like every year, the Rangen is the most powerfully structured wine and the most influenced by the volcanic origin. The nose as well as the palate are peaty, smoky, flinty and still relatively austere. The mouth is today dominated by the power and needs lot of oxygenation and age to reveal the potential and complex character of this incredible vineyard.

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1999 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 127° Oe (17.8° pot), 12.1 ° alc, 83 g/l SR, 34 hl/ha, 2005-2015+
If there would be only one place where we would see some noble rot on the Domaine, it would certainly be in the Clos Jebsal. The blend of a gypsum-marl soil and the extremely warm/precocious meso-climate almost always guarantees the development of this fantastic rot. 1999 produced a VT and an SGN against a difficult weather. The small yields helped to ripen the grapes quickly and early, allowing the botrytis to spread and concentrate the acidity and sweetness. The 1999 VT has a superb acidity, strong exotic aromas and a long round mouth, dominated by the typical Jebsal character.

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1999 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 124° Oe (17.3° pot), 12.5° alc, 81 g/l SR, 12 hl/ha, 2005-2020+
In 1999, the clusters were rare on the vines and the harvesters had to look carefully not too miss any, such was the crop small. The maturity was high, as expected, but surprisingly, without much noble rot. The result is a wine with an open nose, faithful to its origin, where the flinty flavours blend with the over ripeness aromas (exotic fruits). The mouth is ample and long lasting, with a sensation of well behaved power. The 1999 is less sweet than the 1998 VT, but possess perhaps more ‘terroir’ character.

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 1999 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2001, 133° Oe (18.6° pot), 12.1 ° alc, 99 g/l SR, 11 hl/ha , 2005-2015+
This is the other half of the harvest from this vineyard. The botrytis spread late in October on very ripe and healthy grapes. A selection of clusters (not grapes) was made, which explains the botrytised character of this wine. The nose is still closed, almost SGN in style, with complex minerality. The mouth is huge and very flattering , showing a rich sweet quality. It was difficult to produce VTs in 1999, but this wine has nothing to envy to previous vintages.

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1999 Sélection de Grains Nobles – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/2000, 142° Oe (20° pot), 10.5° alc, 161 g/l SR, 19 hl/ha, 2005-2020+
The 1999 harvest was mostly healthy and good botrytis was rare, except in the Clos Jebsal. The nose as well as the palate is dominated by the sensation of harmony. The aromas are very pure and show clean and pure botrytis aromas associated with ripe fruits (quince jelly/marmalade). The palate is today dominated by a sharp acidity that balances the high residual sweetness of this wine. Again, the low alcohol level achieved after a long fermentation participates to the sensation of delicacy and balance in this wine.

(Olivier Humbrecht)