White

1996 Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain

Zind-Humbrecht

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Cs (12x75cl)
£894.00 Duty Paid
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Average Score 95.0

The deep gold-colored 1996 Tokay-Pinot Gris Rangen Clos St. Urbain brought back memories of my childhood, when my mother would bake mincemeat pies. The wine's bouquet, an exotic concoction of spices, pie dough, jus de viande, and honey, soared from the glass of this awesomely-endowed Pinot Gris. In the mouth, it tasted of white truffle oil, something I have only rarely experienced (on occasion, I have had white Hermitage as well as Hermitage Vin de Paille exhibit similar characteristics). Extremely full-bodied and thick, moderately sweet, and mammothly-endowed, this is a winemaking monument. This wine will evolve gracefully for two decades or more.||This wine was harvested primarily in mid-October. It was produced from exceptionally small yields - 18 hectoliters per hectare for the Rangen, to as high as 28 hectoliters per hectare for the Heimbourg. This is an awesomely rich, thick, unctuously-textured, moderately sweet Pinot Gris that may be too much of a good thing for many tasters, but an impressive wine it is!||I have tasted many of Alsace's finest producers' 1996s, and it is a tricky vintage. The most consistent level of high quality I tasted was no surprise - it originated from the wines of Zind-Humbrecht. When I met with Olivier Humbrecht, he said the summer was normal until the end of July, but August was cool, and September even cooler, but dry. The hallmark of the grapes in September was the extremely high level of acidity that remained, even by the end of September. At Zind-Humbrecht, the harvest occurred in October, under Indian Summer-like conditions. The grapes were healthy, the acid levels high, and there was little evidence of botrytis. Consequently, little sweet wine was produced. Olivier Humbrecht stated that yields in 1996 were huge throughout Alsace, averaging between 82-100 hectoliters per hectare. At Zind-Humbrecht, yields for their estate wines averaged 31 hectoliters per hectare. As I have written time and time again, there is no secret to great wines ... low yields.||All of Zind-Humbrecht's 1996 wines were highly successful with alcohol levels well below 1994, or such great vintages as 1989 and 1990. In general, the alcohol levels range between 11.5% and 13.6%. The wines are characterized by higher than normal acidity levels, which should serve them well as they age. They give the impression of being drier wines than normal, perhaps due to their higher acidity, which tends to effectively buffer/counterbalance any impression of residual sweetness.||I tried to think of another Zind-Humbrecht vintage with similar characteristics, but I was unable to find a legitimate comparison. The wines possess lively acidity, good aromatics, and are long in the mouth, but they are more delicate than some of the blockbuster, powerful vintages previously produced at Z-H (i.e., 1994, 1990, and 1989). The 1996s may turn out to be long agers, but my philosophy, for myself and readers, is that if you like the way a wine tastes young, you should not hesitate to drink it. Remember - no one has ever blundered by drinking a delicious wine too soon. However, opening a bottle of wine after its aromatics and fruit have faded is indeed a sorrowful experience!||Domaine Zind-Humbrecht's wines are imported by Wine Markets International, Woodbury, NY; tel. (516) 364-1850 and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA; tel (510) 524-1524|| Wine Advocate.October, 1998

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