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Average critic rating : 89.0 points
Olivier Humbrecht thinks that with increasingly warm, early vintages, the red and white strains of Muscat d’Alsace – though harder to ripen – will promote better acidity and rot-resistence, and with new plantings coming on line, his 2007 Muscat d’Alsace Herrenweg is now minority Ottonel. Completely dry and at just under 14% alcohol, this smells of apricot, gooseberry, portabella, and sage. Corpulent, yet invigorating in its cress, tart fruit skin, and cress, it evinces an underlying sense of smoked meat as well as things musky and fungal. This should be fascinating and versatile over at least the next 3-5 years, but it is by no means a classic of its type, and in casting about for food-pairing intuition, you might want to imagine it as a cross between Muscat d’Alsace and Pinot Noir! ||”After the experience of 2003,” remarks Olivier Humbrecht with an eye to his 2007s, “I’m never going to complain about having and extra gram or two of acidity.” In fact, Humbrecht considers 2007 ideal in nearly every respect, having permitted the grower the luxury of picking under optimum conditions for each grape variety and style. The fruit was completely healthy, insists Humbrecht, “you could walk through the vineyards for half an hour and fine one spoiled berry,” … except, of course, where the rot was noble! This year’s generally dry-tasting, relatively low-alcohol, high acid, high-extract Rieslings are not always the most youthfully approachable or winsome in style, but the best are profound; whereas Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer ran to extremities of potential alcohol, even though the harvest was finished before mid-October. Far fewer wines went through malo-lactic transformation here from 2007 than usual – the pHs were often so low they proved inhospitable to the necessary bacteria. As for 2006, it’s clear that this is a year to test the meddle of any grower, and it is therefore not surprising that Zind-Humbrecht was among the estates to demonstrate that excellence and even excitement were not ruled out by the weather. Furthermore, he arrived at an average 2006 yield virtually identical to that of 2005. “Of course,” asserts Humbrecht, “quality in 2006 depended on how you handle your vineyards and your vines the whole year through. It was a vintage where, if you made a mistake in the vineyards, you got slapped pretty hard at harvest time, unlike 2007 where if you made a mistake, nature was forgiving.” The completion of fermentations in 2007 was spread over even more months than usual, often with late bottling; frequently with no racking; and my notes are based both on tastings from bottle early this year (sometimes referencing the wine’s performance from cask) and in a few instances solely on tastings from cask. Two 2007 Pinot Gris “Trie Speciale” – from Clos Windsbuhl and Clos Jebsal – were not even wine yet last I visited, and will in any case not be released for at least another year. eRobertParker.com.April, 2010
Arguably the leading producer in Alsace , Olivier Humbrecht of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht focusses on showcasing the specificity of vineyard sites, owning just single vineyards, including grand cru sites. The ability of the estate to produce wines reflective of their terroir is second to none.
The style of the domaine is also very distinctive, we know of no other Alsace wines that have the cleanliness, precision and freshness that these wines have; indeed, we believe they are stylistically quite different from anything else in Alsace – taste them blind and they are very difficult to place!
Olivier draws on his depth of knowledge (he was the first Frenchman to qualify as a Master of Wine) and experience to challenge and improve his wines each vintage. This focus has transformed the winery with new viticultural techniques, the expansion of the estate, conversion to organic and biodynamic culture and use of workhorses. He is committed to his project and to explaining the wines of Alsace to the consumer, for instance the sweetness index Olivier created, which can be found on all Zind-Humbrecht post 2001 bottles.
This index attempts to combine the residual sugars, alcohol, acidity and overall structure of the wine to better understand the style and with what it’d be best served with:
1: Dry (<2 to 6g/l)
2: Off dry, the sugars aren’t apparent on the palate but there is a roundness
3: Off dry, more sweetness in young wines which fades with age
5: Very sweet, close to late harvest (>45g/l)
We ship directly from the domaine, so please get in touch if there’s something you’re looking for that we aren’t currently listing.
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