Zind-Humbrecht 1998 - Vintage notes

The 1998 Vintage at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
(text from Olivier Humbrecht)

1998 was an extreme vintage from the beginning to the end. At the same time too dry or too hot (causing stress or sun burns), and sometimes too humid or rainy. May and June were warm, allowing an early and homogeneous flowering. Rains were important then until middle of July. A warm and dry period followed until the end of August. Beginning of August was very dry, but after that the weather was often very humid and rainy.
Although the year was difficult in term of weather, only oïdium could have caused some problems. All the vineyards properly managed had a net stop of growth, allowing a good change of colour and the ripeness was then very homogeneous. This was a big advantage in a year like 1998. All our vineyards located near or on the Herrenweg were harvested between 21st and 28th September in warm and dry weather condition, the hillsides were harvested between 12th and 24th October with perfect weather. It rained a lot between those two periods. In some case it provoked some grey rot, but in the well managed vineyard, it allowed some spectacular noble rot development during the dry second period.
1998 produced two styles of wines. The first group is characterised by a healthy crop and fruity wines, the second by high ripeness levels and high percentage of noble rot. In both cases, the acidity is well balanced and ripe.
No wine from 1998 was chaptalized and many wines fermented extremely slowly (often until spring or summer), so many wines will be bottled only early 2000. The average yield on the estate in 1998 was 41hl/ha, with big differences between grape varieties and locations.

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.

Pinot d’Alsace 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 95° Oechslés (13.5° pot), 13.5° alc, 2 g/l SR, 59hl/ha, 2000-2005
This is the classic blend of Auxerrois, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc coming from the three vineyards of Herrenweg, Clos Windsbuhl and Rotenberg. In 1998, this wine is particularly intense and aromatic, its richness is almost superior to the 1997 but the acidity is also greater. Even though it is a perfectly dry wine, it has a silky and smooth palate and long aftertaste.

Muscat Herrenweg de Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 85° Oe (11.9° pot), 11.8° alc, 2.1 g/l SR, 66hl/ha, 2000-2002
The association of the precocious gravelly soil and the old vines (50years old) dominated by muscat Ottonel helped to produce a fruity and aromatic wine, entirely dry with an elegant and delicate structure. Less alcoholic than the other 1998’s, the Muscat Herrenweg will be a pleasurable wine to drink in its youth.

Muscat Grand Cru Goldert 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 90° Oe (12.7° pot), 12.5° alc, 2.9 g/l SR, 55hl/ha, 2000-2009
The Goldert Muscat is made 80% from the old Muscat d’Alsace grape. The wine is rich, totally dry and shows strong mineral character, typical from the pure calcareous soil. Still closed today, it will benefit from aeration to show all its fruit.

Riesling Gueberschwihr 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 93° Oe (13.1° pot), 13.1° alc, 1g/l SR, 55 hl/ha, 2001-2008
1998 could well be a terrific riesling vintage, judging this wine will certainly confirm it. The grapes were harvested totally healthy and ripe. After a very long fermentation, this wine became incredibly aromatic, entirely dry but balanced with a long unctuous palate and a ripe acidity. Already showing well, it will benefit from extra ageing.

Riesling Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 97° Oe (13.5° pot), 13.4° alc, 4 g/l SR, 58 hl/ha, 2002-2008.
Still coming from our younger vines from the Brand (17years old average), this wine has all the characteristic of a granite soil. The good ripeness is balanced with a nervous acidity and impressive length. This wine became dry after a long fermentation, which is responsible for the powerful palate.

Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 95° Oe (13.3° pot), 13.3° alc, 2 g/l SR, 46 hl/ha, 1999-2007
The age of this vineyard (50 years old) and the precocious gravelly soil of the Herrenweg helped to produce a very aromatic and seductive wine. The 1998 is totally dry, again after a long fermentation, but has an elegant, delicate and open structure. This wine is already showing a lot of flavours and represent very well the riesling grape.

Riesling Clos Hauserer 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 102° Oe (14.2° pot), 14.1° alc, 4 g/l SR, 41 hl/ha, 2002-2012
This vineyard is more and more stunning years after years. The marl limestone soil, located just under the Hengst, produced a wine of great complexity and richness. Totally dry, after fermenting up to summer 99, this wine has developed a structure and an aromatic intensity unusual for this vineyard. The strong mineral flavours are supported by a ripe acidity and a powerful body, giving a sensation of roundness to the wine. It is a generous wine, tremendous ageing potential.

Riesling Heimbourg 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 101° Oe (14° pot), 12.8° alc, 22 g/l SR, 30 hl/ha, 2002-2010.
This wine comes from the small south part of the Heimbourg vineyard, on a severe south-south-west slope, immediately near the Clos Jebsal. This riesling benefited from a warm and healthy micro-climate (exposed to the valley winds). The young age of the vines is compensated by the small grapes, always very healthy) and the small yields per vine. The calcareous-marl soil produced an elegant wine, with ripe acidity, responsible for the slow fermentation and the residual sweetness of the wine, which gives a touch of roundness on the finish.

Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 110° Oe (15.3° pot), 14.8° alc, 8 g/l SR, 35hl/ha, 2005-2015+
The biotite granite from the Brand vineyard enjoyed a warm, precocious climate. The excellent drainage of the soil also explains why there was little botrytis on the clusters. It is rare to harvest riesling at such ripeness without the noble rot, and it is even rarer to see such a ripeness ferment almost dry, with its natural yeasts! The long fermentation (to the end of September 99) gave a rich, long, powerful body to the wine. The nose stays Brand: lots of fresh fruits and very developed. In 1998, the old vines from the Brand really went down deep to extract the best possible from this terroir.

Riesling Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 109° Oe (15.2° pot), 13.1°alc, 34 g/l SR, 34hl/ha, 2005-2015+
1998 is not the same for the Rangen as for the rest of the Domain. This volcanic hill enjoyed extremely favourable conditions for the development of noble rot middle October. Even if this wine is not labelled as VT, it does have extremely strong botrytis influence. The intense spicy, flinty, stony flavours are combined with the over ripeness character. This vineyard also has a much sharper acidity than most 98s. this explains why there is some residual sweetness in the wine, even after a year fermentation. The palate remain very well balanced and built for ageing.

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 1998 Vendanges Tardives – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 113° Oe (15.7° pot), 11° alc, 78 g/l SR, 38hl/ha, 2002-2015+
This was our last wine to be harvested October 24th on our Domaine. The grapes were botrytised between 20 to 30%, allowing the production of a Vendange Tardive. The fine acidity, typical in this vineyard, and the quality of the noble rot helped to slow the fermentation and eventually stopping it, leaving lot of residual sweetness in the wine. It is a very elegant VT, delicate, and shows the classic waxy flavours.

Pinot Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 106° Oe (15° pot), 14.2° alc,     g/l SR, 60hl/ha, 2002-2008
All the character of the Herrenweg is present in this wine: intense fruit, imposing body and length with lot of freshness and youth.  It is the longest fermenting wine of all the 98s (until January 2000). Its initial ripeness didn’t allow the wine to finish completely dry, but the residual sweetness is well hidden in this wine.

Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 113° Oe (16.0° pot), 12.8° alc, 60 g/l SR, 40 hl/ha, 2000-2010
Only from our two oldest vineyards in the Herrenweg, this wine was harvested with a high ripeness and some noble rot. After a slow fermentation, it remains slightly sweet, which is classic from this wine. It shows powerful roasted, nutty, almond flavours on the nose and the palate.

Pinot Gris Rotenberg 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 112° Oe (15.9° pot), 13.7° alc, 45g/l SR, 37hl/ha, 2001-2010
This red calcareous soil produced a very small crop of dry wine in 1998. The grapes were very healthy, and the wine shows all the classic apricot, quince flavours of the Rotenberg. The mouth is ample and rich, with strong toasty flavours (there is no oak). Even though the fermentation was lengthy, the wine kept some sweetness which is well hidden behind the massive body and the fine acidity.

Pinot Gris Heimbourg 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 120° Oe (17° pot), 13.4° alc, 56g/l SR, 32hl/ha, 2002-2015.
Like the Rotenberg, the Heimbourg is located on a oligocène calcareous hillside, facing West. This facing helped the botrytis to spread evenly on the grapes in 1998. The small crop and the concentration of the botrytis helped to produce a rich, elegant and aromatic wine; The palate is already today very developed, with classic peach, fruit aromas.

Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 3/2000, 118° Oe, (16.6° pot), 12.8° alc, 71 g/l SR, 36hl/ha, 2004-2015
This wine resembles a lot the 1996 from this vineyard, and has benefited from the same weather conditions. The palate is fine and elegant, supported by a racy acidity. The calcareous rock gives the wine a strong minerality associated with an aromatic nose. The residual sweetness is almost comparable to a VT, but the evolution of this wine (low botrytis and high acidity) should be closer to a non VT. Should keep extremely well.

Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 101° Oe (14.3° pot), 13.9° alc, 7g/l SR, 54hl/ha, 2000-2005.
This wine comes from an 52years old vineyard, very similar to the Herrenweg, but in a cooler location, closer to Wintzenheim. The grapes reached a classic ripeness, allowing the wine to finish dry. The nose is already very expressive with strong litchi-rose petals aromas. The mouth is rich and well balanced. Classic gewurztraminer.

Gewurztraminer Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 107°Oe (15.1° pot), 14.6° alc, 12 g/l SR, 64 hl/ha, 2001-2006
The younger vineyards from the Herrenweg produced this wine. (average age is 25 years old). The grapes were perfectly ripe and were harvested early thanks to the precocity of this vineyard. It is a very powerful wine and it tastes totally dry even though there is technically some sweetness. Less open than the Wintzenheim, this wine shows more spiciness.

Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 109° Oe (15.4° pot), 14.0° alc, 25 g/l SR, 35 hl/ha, 2000-2008.
Located just under the village of Gueberschwihr, those vines are amongst the oldest on the Domaine. The clay silicium soil produces a wine in between a calcareous and gravelly soil. Relatively aromatic on the nose, it shows more weight and richness on the palate. Classic spicy, long lasting flavours.

Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 110° Oe (15.6° pot), 15.3° alc, 5.3g/l SR, 57hl/ha, 2000-2008
This wine was harvested at the same time as the Turckheim for the same reasons. The well drained gravelly soil was able to ripen the grapes quickly before the early October rains. It is important for such a vineyard, because it doesn’t have the capacity to go through bad weather as well as a top hillside. The slow and intense fermentation allowed the wine to finish dry and powerful, with a strong body and good length. Much more complexity on the nose, stronger spicy character.

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 116° Oe (16.5° pot), 14.6° alc, 39g/l SR, 40 hl/ha, 2001-2010
The Heimbourg gewurztraminer was harvested in two times: resulting in a dry wine and a VT. This wine has very little botrytis and shows very strong aromatic aromas, still very floral, and well balanced with a fresh acidity that hide the huge ripeness of the wine. The alcohol and sweetness of this wine are hidden behind an harmonious structure.

Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 122° Oe (17.4° pot), 15.1° alc, 40 g/l SR, 48hl/ha, 2005-2015+
In 1998, the Clos Windsbuhl grapes reached a ripeness and complexity level that can be seen only in the best vintages. Little botrytis and perfect health explain the strong aromatic potential of this wine. The palate is rich and unctuous, long lasting flavours that are between spicy and fruity. It has an ultra classic balance, and despite a finished high alcohol level, the mouth is harmonious.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 1998 – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 125° Oe (17.9° pot), 15.9° alc, 33g/l SR, 41 hl/ha, 2003-2015+
Only the Hengst can produce a wine like this. Totally dominated by spicy flavours and under wood flavours. The palate is powerful; massive, but with little warmth due to the high alcohol. The long fermentation gave this wine lot of glycerol and structure. The vineyard dominates totally the wine.

Pinot Gris Rotenberg 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 134° Oe (19.1° pot), 14.2° alc, 79 g/l SR, 10 hl/ha, 2003-2015+
The oldest vines from the Rotenberg were harvested later, giving time to the noble rot to develop sufficiently, allowing the wine to reach VT level. The result is a wine that has an incredible aromatic nose of quince and apricot. The palate is typical of Rotenberg: very elegant, already open , without any heavy character thanks to its refined acidity. It is showing a lot today but deserves more ageing.

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 124° Oe (17.7° pot), 11.5° alc, 98 g/l SR, 23hl/ha, 2005-2015+
Harvested half in VT and half in SGN, the Clos Jebsal was again heavily botrytised. The south facing marl gypsum soil was able to produce extremely aromatic and elegant sweet wines, showing no heaviness although the residual sweetness was high. In this wine, the minerality still dominates the flavours. The acidity and sweetness balance really give a classic VT balance to this wine. Less exuberant than the Rotenberg today, it should show its complexity through ageing.

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 141° Oe (20.1° pot), 12.6° alc, 115g/l SR, 28hl/ha, 2005-2020+
Mostly harvested in the upper part of the Clos Saint Urbain, the Vendange Tardive Pinot Gris is a wine completely dominated by the volcanic rock of the Rangen. Flint-stone, spices, minerality characterise the aromas of this wine. The mouth is heavily botrytised and shows a strong racy acidity. The result is a wine that almost has an SGN harmony and ageing potential. A wine very similar to the 1994.

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 128° Oe (18.2° pot), 14.3° alc, 65 g/l SR, 21 hl/ha, 2003-2015
The Heimbourg has often strong fruity and rose aromas. In this wine, the botrytis brings an elegant waxy, roasted flavour and a stronger spicy character. It remains classic Heimbourg, with its super powerful palate, classic balance and structure. Certainly one of the most heavy styled gewurztraminer of 1998.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Goldert 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 136° Oe, (19.3° pot), 14.5° alc, 83 g/l SR, 32 hl/ha, 2005-2015+
In the Goldert, the botrytis started at the end of the harvest, but then spread very quickly and evenly. The spicy character of gewurztraminer is here dominated by strong cocoa, bee wax, roasted flavours. It remains Goldert in its delicate finish and ample, generous palate. The quality of the residual sweetness is close to the one of an SGN.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1998 Vendange Tardive – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 156° Oe (22.3° pot), 14.2° alc, 112 g/l SR, 20hl/ha, 2005-2020+
Impossible to detect any trace of gewurztraminer in this wine. The terroir is so strong, associated with an incredible acidity and racy flinty character that the Rangen is more obvious that the grape variety in this wine. High maturity, intense botrytis combine with the volcanic rock to produce a mineral, almost salted wine, where the sweetness is almost totally hidden.

Riesling Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1998 Sélection de Grains Nobles – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 136° Oe (19.3° pot), 11.5° alc, 124 g/l SR, 23hl/ha, 2005-2025+
The exceptional climatic conditions allowed us to produce for the first time an SGN in Riesling in the Rangen. We kept some healthy grapes in the selection in order to keep also a strong fresh flavour in the wine. The result is an incredibly aromatic wine, almost surprising given the youth of this wine, built for ageing decades. The acidity, sweetness and alcohol are in harmony, and the mouth is extremely delicate, refined., persistent and complex.

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1998 Sélection de Grains Nobles – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 166° Oe (23.8° pot), 12.9° alc, 160 g/l SR, 21 hl/ha, 2005-2025+
This wine is a concentrate of the VT produced also in 1998! The iodine, flint-stone character is stronger and very typical of the Rangen. This wine comes mostly from the vineyards located near the river, that helps the development of the noble rot. It is not a selection of berries but a whole harvest. A selection would have increased perhaps the sweetness of the wine, but we preferred to keep the maximum of terroir and personality in this wine.

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1998 Sélection de Grains Nobles – Zind-Humbrecht
Mise 9/99, 176° Oe (25.3° pot), 12.8° alc, 210 g/l SR, 19 hl/ha, 2005-2020+
The harmony of 1998 and the small yield contributed to produce a beautiful aromatic SGN, very delicate on the nose. The heavy botrytis doesn’t bring any weight to the wine, despite a very high sweetness, thanks to a racy acidity and open fruit palate. The flavours are very pure, sign of a high quality botrytis. This wine is almost unusually aromatic for the Clos Jebsal. It should age endlessly.

(Olivier Humbrecht)