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Wine Wednesday


This week The Cellar Pick of the Week is one of Jon’s current specials. We’re staying in Europe, but moving to Turckheim, a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Grand Est in North-Eastern France. The winery is only half an hour away from The Rhine River, which is the natural border between France and Germany.

Cellar Pick of the Week: 2015 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc
Origin: Turckheim, Alsace, France
Grape varietal: 100% Pinot Blanc

The Humbrecht family has a long winegrowing history, established in 1620 in the village of Gueberschwihr up until the end of the 20th century with Zénon Humbrecht. The Domaine Zind-Humbrecht was officially created in 1959, following the marriage of Léonard Humbrecht to Geneviève Zind, who came from a respected winemaking family in Wintzenheim. The Domaine is currently mostly managed by Léonard’s son Olivier Humbrecht, who was the first Frenchman to qualify as Master of Wine.

Domaine Zind Humbrecht today comprises of 40 hectares of vines, spread out over an array of different terroirs in the geological patchwork which is the Alsatian wine region and birthplace of their noble grape varieties.

2015 was a very hot vintage. The winter only had a few nights where the temperature dropped below zero, while most of the grapes varieties in the vineyards need that cold so the grapes don’t ripen as quickly, which results in lower natural sugars and higher acidity. Late Spring/ early Summer temperatures raised significantly, peaking early July at 38/39°C for several weeks. The absence of rain and extreme heat caused hydric stress problems which resulted in many burned leaves and grapes. By early August some of the vineyards had as much as 50% leaves loss. Berries remained very small and didn’t reach their normal size, impacting eventually the crop size.

From the end of July to end of August, some rare rainfalls, intense in certain areas, brought some life back in the vineyards. The mid-August rains provoked a fast and homogenous change of colour. Sugar content climbed extremely fast and it was important to harvest early in order not to avoid excessive ripeness. Thanks to earlier harvest, the acidity stayed low resulting in a well-balanced wine.

This wine was formerly named Pinot d’Alsace, which in the Alsace tradition indicates a blend of Auxerrois and Pinot-Blanc grapes. This wine originates from the Rotenberg vineyard in Wintzenheim and Herrenweg in Turckheim. In 2015, the proportion of Pinot Blanc was much higher than the Auxerrois. The latter being slightly less productive as it suffers more from sunburn. The red limestone of the Rotenberg, benefiting from a much cooler exposition (north-west) and higher altitude, yielded the bulk of this wine, which also explains the slightly lower yields obtained in 2015. The Herrenweg grapes were in comparison much smaller and there was also more coulure due to the heat during flowering. Without a doubt, this changed the style of the wine and explains the great structure for such a hot vintage.

The wine has a bright pale yellow colour. The nose is quite intense but takes some time to open up. It then reveals beautiful floral/fruity aromatics (honeysuckle, peach, melon) but also a clear sense of the limestone influence. There is no doubt that the initial tightness originates from the influence of the Rotenberg vineyard. The palate shows intensity but also stays elegant and tight. Very dry finish with this classic 2015, ripe acidity touch, salivating, juicy and not aggressive. Impressive Pinot-Blanc, very pure in its definition.

Available in the restaurant, or online from The Cellar with a $10 discount!


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