Zind-Humbrecht 1997 - Vintage notes

The 1997 Vintage at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht
(text from Olivier Humbrecht)

1997 was certainly one of the easiest vintage in Alsace for years: an early flowering, warm summer with enough rain falls at the good moment, and a dry and warm weather from mid August until beginning of November. Exceptional weather conditions allowed early (28th October) and healthy harvests. The botrytis developed only in a few rare places, this explains why although the maturity levels were high, we decided to declare only one SGN and no VTs in 1997.

All the different grape varieties were harvested very ripe, producing aromatic, powerful and rich wines. Most of the wines were bottled in September 1998. The style of the vintage is an incredible power, normal acidity and lots of charm.

No wine was chaptalized in 1997 and most of them fermented relatively quicker than usual (all the wines but two were racked between December 97 and March 98). Our average yield on the Domaine was 43 hl/ha, with strong differences between the grape varieties and the origin. The highest being the Rieslings.

Note: Oe = Oechslé level at harvest time, pot = alcohol potential at harvest time, alc = finished alcohol level, SR = Residual Sweetness, hl/ha = yields, date = optimum drinking, but certainly not the maximum life of the wine. Mise: time of bottling.

Pinot d’Alsace 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Only blend between different grape varieties and origins (30% chardonnay from Windsbuhl, 50% Auxerrois from Rotenberg, Herrenweg and Windsbuhl, 20% Pinot Blanc from Rotenberg and Herrenweg). The 1997 is very aromatic, long with a beautiful creamy texture. It is a dry and rich wine but with finesse.
Mise 9/98, 93° Oechslés (12.9° pot), 12.7% Alc, 6 g/l SR, 55hl/ha, 1999-2002

Muscat Herrenweg de Turckheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Blend from Muscat Ottonel (80%) and Muscat d’Alsace (20%) from vineyards planted in 1946 and 1967 on the richest part of the Herrenweg vineyard in Turckheim. This wine was harvested at a very high level of ripeness, but like a lot of 97s, it did ferment totally dry. Today, it might be difficult for an ‘apéritif’, but will replace easily a gewurztraminer on a more spicy dish ! It is a very fruity wine with a well structured and powerful palate.
Mise 7/98, 103° Oe (14.9° pot), 14.8° alc, sec, 65hl/ha, 1999-2003

Muscat Grand Cru Goldert 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Goldert was always an excellent origin for the Muscat, thanks to its oolithic calcareous under soil and late ripening climate. This wine is a blend of 25% Muscat Ottonel and 75% Muscat d’Alsace. Although harvested very ripe, this vineyard always gives a good acid structure to this wine and deserve some ageing before drinking. The 97 is also fully dry, quite fresh with a good acidity and relatively austere and closed for the moment, with a strong mineral finish.
Mise 9/98, 93° Oe (12.9° pot), 13.1° alc, sec, 55hl/ha, 1999-2004

Riesling 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
This generic wine comes from young vines from different good vineyards... High maturity and very rich. A very powerful wine with strong mineral flavours.
Mise 9/98, 102°Oe (14.2° pot), 13.4° alc, 9.6 g/l SR, 50hl/ha, 2000-2005

Riesling Wintzenheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
This vineyard is a mix of alluvial deposits and fine sands. It always produces light and elegant style of riesling, always characterised by a nice ripe acidity and grapefruit aromas. The 1997 is particularly rich and this modest origin was able to produce an elegant, fine and aromatic wine. The residual sweetness is very well balanced in this wine.
Mise 7/98, 96°Oe (13.7° pot), 12.8° alc, 15.1 g/l SR, 68hl/ha, 1999-2002

Riesling Gueberschwihr 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The south facing limestone soils from Gueberschwihr produced a very mineral riesling. It is always a slow maturing wine, still closed but it posses in 97 a very good balance and good structure. The nice ripe acidity balances the long palate and the residual sweetness (the highest from all Rieslings).
Mise 7/98, 95° Oe (13.6° pot), 12.3° alc, 22 g/l SR, 65 hl/ha, 2000-2005

Riesling Turckheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Originating from our vineyards planted in 1981 in the Brand, this wine shows the granite character from this vineyard: a rich under soil in micro elements, well drained, south facing and therefore very warm. This vineyard produces very aromatic wines, fine and elegant. The perfectly healthy grapes in 97 explains also the purity of this wine. It has a strong mineral character, quite dry and long finish.
Mise 9/98, 95° Oe (13.6° pot), 12.7° alc, 14 g/l SR, 59hl/ha, 2000-2007.

Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Riesling vineyards are located in the richest part of the Herrenweg, at the exception of the ones located near our cellars. The gravelly soil is mixed with silt and also sometimes with decarbonated loess. The 97 vintage has a terrific maturity and a powerful mouth that distinguishes that wine from the other just before. It blends the classic delicacy of this vineyard to an high ripeness.
Mise 9/98, 98° Oe (13.9° pot), 12.9° alc, 19.5g/l SR, 60 hl/ha, 1999-2007

Riesling Clos Hauserer 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
This marl limestone vineyard is located just under the Hengst Grand Cru. It enjoys a warm and dry micro climate, but the richness from the marl always produces Rieslings with a tremendous acidity and structure and with a firm mineral flavour. In 1997, the Clos Hauserer produced a very elegant wine, delicately perfumed and with its classic mineral mouth. The strong acidity is soften in this vintage with the high ripeness from this warm vintage. It still remains a long ageing wine
Mise 9/98, 96° Oe (13.7° pot), 12.9°alc, 13g/l SR, 65hl/ha, 2001-2010

Riesling Heimbourg 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
1997 is the first vintage from this young vineyard. This Riesling comes from the very steep south facing part of the Heimbourg vineyard (40 to 60% slope), just next to the Clos Jebsal in Turckheim. The soil is made of calcareous rocks and marl from the Oligocene era. The 1.15ha look like a Clos (surrounded by walls). We have no experience from this vineyard that wasn’t planted since world war II, but the wines from 97 and 98 (in cask) show some very delicate fruity flavours and pure mineral quality with a strong acidity. Although they are young vines, this vineyard produced a tiny yield (small grapes). It is the longest fermenting wine in this vintage.!
Mise 99, 99° Oe (14° pot), 13.7° alc, 5 g/l SR, 30 hl/ha, 2001-2010.

Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Rieslings are planted in the most stony part of the Clos Windsbuhl vineyard, on the Muschelkalk limestone. The wines have always a strong acidity and mineral austere aromas, extremely developed in 1997. This Riesling was the last vineyard to be harvested in 1997 (31/10/1997) at the end of the period of good weather. The result is a wine having a tremendous complexity, typical from fine calcareous soils. Long ageing potential.
Mise 9/98, 94° Oe (12.7° pot), 13.2 ° alc, 8.6g/l SR, 50hl/ha, 2002-2015

Riesling Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The precocious flowering on the sedimentary volcanic hill of the Rangen allowed extreme high ripeness in 1997 for dry wines. The Riesling was harvested totally healthy, thanks to its very steep (80%) south facing slope. The wine is still very austere and closed, very powerful and almost massive flinty character on the palate, and a balanced dry finish.
Mise 9/98, 100° Oe (14.2° pot), 13.9° alc, 5 g/l SR, 39hl/ha, 2005-2015

Riesling Grand Cru Brand 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The biotite granite from the Brand is one of the high quality soil that warms up the quickest. The Rieslings are mostly harvested at high maturity with elegant fruity flavour and strong racy acidity. In 1997, the ripeness was incredibly high, even though the grapes were perfectly healthy. Like its predecessor in 1996, the 97 fermented to a high level of alcohol never seen on a Riesling before on our estate. It is a very powerful wine, already open, showing beautiful fruity aromas, for long ageing.
Mise 9/98, 109° Oe (15.2° pot), 14.4° alc, 14 g/l SR, 45hl/ha, 2005-2015

Pinot Gris 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
A very small quantity of young vines, selected from various sites. It is a rich, totally dry wine from healthy grapes, but less opulent than the 1996.
Mise 9/98, 103° Oe, (14.5° pot), 14.3° alc, sec, 50hl/ha, 1999-2001.

Pinot Gris Herrenweg de Turckheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
This wine is originating directly from our vineyards next to the cellar. This wine has the characteristics from this warm and precocious vineyard. The grapes were partially affected by noble rot, allowing them to reach a high level of ripeness and giving the wine a strong structure. Plenty of flavours, much less austere than the 1996.
Mise 9/98, 115° Oe (16.2° pot), 14.9° alc, 25g/l SR, 50hl/ha, 1999-2007

Pinot Gris Vieilles Vignes 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Originating only from the Herrenweg vineyard, those vines were planted in 1946. The alluvial soil produced a very exotic and aromatic Pinot gris . Lots of noble botrytis in 1997 characterised this wine, extremely rich and powerful, but with an unctuous finish. It is the perfect match for foie gras...
Mise 9/98, 122° Oe (16.8° pot), 14.4° alc, 38g/l SR, 29 hl/ha, 2000-2010

Pinot Gris Heimbourg 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Located on the top part of the Heimbourg vineyard, facing West on a poor calcareous soil, this Pinot gris was harvested very healthy and very ripe. A strong fermentation pushed this wine to become totally dry, leaving no residual sweetness at all ! The result is a powerful wine, high in alcohol but with excellent balance, strong mineral and smoky aromas, where the calcareous soil shows its finesse. Extremely good with smoked food, white meat...
Mise 9/98, 109° Oe (15.6° pot), 15.3° alc, 5g/l SR, 39hl/ha, 2002-2010.

Pinot Gris Rotenberg 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Rotenberg is the West facing part of the Hengst Grand Cru vineyard. The soil is identical but slightly poorer and rich in iron, giving this vineyard a strong reddish colour (roten = red and not rot!). The 1997 was harvested in similar conditions than the Heimbourg: very healthy and producing a very dry wine. The Rotenberg has its own character: very aromatic and slightly more tender (quince, peach..) and a more open palate.
Mise 9/98, 109° Oe (15.6° pot), 15.3° alc, 7g/l SR, 37hl/ha, 2003-2010

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Just like the Riesling, the Pinot gris was harvested very healthy. The indigenous yeast from this special hillside managed to transform all the sugar into a very powerful wine. Totally dominated with strong smoky, under wood and spicy aromas. Still closed and austere, it is an impressive fully dry wine, they will accompany plenty of daring recipes. Long ageing potential.
Mise 9/98, 109° Oe (15.6° pot), 15.1° alc, 5g/l SR, 26hl/ha, 2003-2015

Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Like most of the 1997s, the Pinot gris from the Clos Windsbuhl managed also to ferment most of its sugar, producing a very powerful wine, ample but extremely closed for the moment. The Windsbuhl usually the most aromatic wine, is in fact the most austere, but extremely well balanced with a superb structure. The absence of botrytis made it a relatively dry wine.
Mise 9/98, 115° Oe, (16.1° pot), 15.2° alc, 16g/l SR, 34hl/ha, 2001-2015

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The full south exposure, the warmest and most precocious micro-climate, the terraced vineyard are responsible for producing the ripest grapes every single year. As usual, this wine was harvested after an SGN made the same day. Classic 97: powerful, with residual sweetness much less apparent than normal for this hillside. The perfect acidity comes from the rich marl gypsum soil. It is a rich wine, but extremely aromatic in 1997.
Mise 9/98, 116° Oe (16.4° pot), 15.3° alc, 19g/l SR, 33hl/ha, 2005-2017.

Gewurztraminer Gueberschwihr 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Those vines are located just under the village of Gueberschwihr on a clay silicium under soil, producing wines with body and spice. The complexity of this wine comes from the average age of the vines that are well above 50 years old.
Mise 99, 110° Oe (15.2° pot), 13.5° alc, 28 g/l SR, 39hl/ha, 2000-2003.

Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Very similar soil than the Herrenweg, but located just West of Wintzenheim. This vineyard is planted with 52 years old vines that always produce a very small crop, perfectly ripe and perhaps slightly more spicy wines than the Herrenweg. In 1997, the yield was small, there was lots of noble rot, allowing the grapes to reach high ripeness level and honey/spicy character This wine has the VT agreement, but still can be tasted and drunk very young on its fruit.
Mise 9/98, 124° Oe (17.5° pot), 14.7° alc, 41g/l SR, 22hl/ha, 1999-2010.

Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
All the vineyards from the Herrenweg are in this wine (there is no Turckheim being made). The gravelly soil produced again a very open wine, almost totally botrytised with noble rot, with strong rose aromas. The precocity of the 1997 vintage and the very small yields were responsible for early noble rot. After severe selections (early rot can be very good, but not totally good!), the result is an incredible powerful wine, extremely aromatic and enjoyable. Delicious today, it will also age well. This wine received also the VT agreement.
Mise 9/98, 130° Oe (18.2° pot), 15.5° alc, 46g/l SR, 28hl/ha, 1999-2010

Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
1997 was a perfectly healthy year in the Clos Windsbuhl. This explains the most stunning and vigorous fermentation in this wine. While I was expecting a sweet wine, the natural yeast totally fermented dry all the sugar. It is a dry, but elegant wine. More austere than usual, powerful, spicy with very fine rose character. It needs more ageing before showing all its potential . Like the other grapes from the Windsbuhl, the well balanced acidity is one of the major good characteristic from this wine. It is the driest Gewurztraminer produced in 1997 on our estate.
Mise 9/98, 114° Oe (16.3° pot), 16.1° alc, 4 g/l SR, 35hl/ha, 2005-2015.

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Here also the harvest was very healthy on the South East facing slopes of the Hengst vineyard. The classic marl limestone soil always produces rich and powerful wines, strong spicy flavours, capable of long ageing. The 1997 enhance the ‘terroir’ and show all the balance this vineyard is capable of producing: very elegant and racy palate, high ripeness perfectly balanced with a good acidity and unctuous finish. The powerful body leaves more a dry than sweet sensation on the finish.
Mise 9/98, 117° Oe (16.7° pot), 15.7° alc, 17g/l SR, 33 hl/ha, 2003-2015

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Goldert 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Goldert is an Oolithic calcareous hill, facing East, in  slightly cooler climate than Turckheim. Maturity levels are still very high and it is not rare to harvest the Goldert Gewurztraminer as a VT since the noble rot develops evenly in October in those vineyards. This wine is close to the VT style, with a beautiful delicate structure, honeyed, and well balanced residual sweetness and acidity. Very open nose, delicately perfumed (rose, litchi..).
Mise 9/98, 117° Oe, (16.7° pot), 14.5° alc, 37 hl/ha, 2003-2015.

Gewurztraminer Heimbourg 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The Heimbourg Gewurztraminer was harvested as always very ripe and was partially botrytised. The Gewurztraminers are planted in the richest part of the hill side (marl limestone), which explains often the strong spicy character of this wine. The West facing allows a late development of noble rot and over ripeness. The 1997 Heimbourg is close to be a VT, and only its powerful fermentation leaving relatively little sweetness, compared to the original potential, made us decide not to present this wine as a VT. The body is really massive and powerful.
Mise 9/98, 124° Oe (17.5° pot), 16.2° alc, 23g/l SR, 32hl/ha, 2003-2015

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
The smallest yield on the Domain, as usual ! and one of the most complex and powerful wine. Extremely dominated by the terroir character. The nose is smoky, flinty with long lasting spicy flavours. The same for the palate, with an extraordinary well balanced acidity. The Gewurztraminers are located right next to the river, explaining the high ripeness and presence of noble rot.
Mise 9/98, 120° Oe (17.5° pot), 14.9° alc, 36 g/l SR, 12hl/ha, 2005-2015

Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal  Sélection de Grains Nobles 1997 – Zind-Humbrecht
Originating from a selection of botrytised grape from the Clos Jebsal, this SGN kept strong fruity flavours that balances the powerful body. To avoid over ripeness, we left some healthy grapes in the selection. The wine is slightly more powerful than usual, with a perfectly well balanced sweetness and strong mineral character. Extremely unctuous finish and long lasting wine.
Mise 9/98, 170° Oe (24.5° pot), 14.1° alc, 180g/l SR, 7hl/ha, 2005-2020. Available only in 2000.

(Olivier Humbrecht)