The seminar began with an interesting slide show and lecture by Roger Bohmrich, on the climate, soil, grape varieties and winemaking in Alsace. Of course, special attention was given to the philosophies and contributions of Hugel.
Some interesting facts learned about Hugel:
--All grapes for Hugel wines are harvested by hand.
--Fermentations take place in stainless steel, cement, or old oak. No new oak is used in this step.
--Hugel has a large cask, named "Ste. Catherine" which dates to 1814, and which Roger Bohmrich claims is the oldest wooden cask in continuous use in any winery in the world.
--Jean Hugel was instrumental in the proposal and development of the current laws governing Vendange Tardive ("late harvest") and Sélection de Grains Nobles (grapes selected for the presence of Botrytis Cinerea, or "noble rot") wines.
--As adamant as Jean Hugel was in regulating the grades of wine, he was equally opposed to the law which created the many Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace. Apparently, he felt that too many vineyards were included in the designation, and that each wine should be rated on its own merits in each vintage, rather than relying on the status of the vineyard.
--As a result, Hugel does not bottle any wines which have the "Grand Cru" designation, even though their higher level wines come from Grand Cru vineyards. The levels of quality in the Hugel lineup are (from most basic to highest level): the "generic" Hugel, Tradition, Jubilee, Vendange Tardive, and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
--All grapes for the Jubilee, Vendange Tardive, and Sélection de Grains Nobles lines come from the Hugel family estates. They buy grapes from long-term contract growers for the more basic lines. They do not, however, buy any wines for any of their lines, only the grapes.
--The Grand Cru Schoenenborg vineyard is the source of their best Riesling wines. The vineyard is on a steep slope and has stony, schist soil. The Grand Cru Sporen vineyard is the source of their best Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. The vineyard is in a relatively flat location, with heavier soil which tends to hold more water.
After everyone had enough of the lecturing, all eyes (and noses, and palates) turned toward the main event--the tasting...
Click here to read the tasting notes from this seminar.
Email questions, corrections or
Copyright 1999 Marcel Lachenmann. All rights reserved.