January 17, 2007 - Jack
Wine Blogging
Wednesday #29

This month's theme is Biodynamic Wines.
It is hosted by Fork & Bottle. (Us!)
The round-up is here.

2001 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling
Our wine this month is:

2001 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl

Zind Humbrecht is one of the very best producers of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) in the world. Their wines range from bone dry to SGN (super sweet). You're likely to find Zind Humbrecht wines at any very fine restaurant, or quality wine store, that purchases wine from the local distributor of these wines. I think that their Gewürztraminers are the most opulent and the 1994 vintage is legendary.

Domaine Zind Humbrecht was born in 1959, following the marriage of Olivier's parents Léonard Humbrecht and Geneviève Zind (see wedding cask below). Olivier Humbrecht was the first Frenchman to obtain the degree, Master of Wine and is a passionate advocate of biodynamic growing practices. He often pours the wines himself at biodynamic wine tastings. The Humbrecht family has been growing grapes since 1620. The Wine-Doctor has a nice profile - here.

Of their Riesling vineyards, Clos Windsbuhl probably ranks third beneath Brand and Rangen (which have Grand Cru status). Clos Windsbuhl is a walled (clos means walled) vineyard of terraced limestone and clay. It is planted with Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris. After enjoying many Clos Windsbuhl bottles over the last ten years or so, I'm left to wonder why it hasn't received Grand Cru status - it is definitely superior to some other Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace.

Olivier makes nine dry Rieslings, nine Gewürztraminers, six Pinot Gris', two or three Muscats, a Pinot d'Alsace, Zind (a blend of Chardonnay and Auxerrois), a Pinot Noir (never seen or tasted by us), plus a random number of dessert wines at VT and SGN levels made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris from the Clos Jebsal, Clos Windsbuhl, Brand, Heimbourg and Rotenberg. This seems to work out to about 35 different wines each year. Most but not all of each year's wines are imported into the US. Zind Humbrecht also makes many of their wines in half-bottle sizes - restaurants and wine lovers adore them for this. (A half-bottle of their VT wine is, to me, a much better match for Foie Gras than a Sauternes.)

The soils around Alsace vary wildly as do the Zind Humbrecht vineyards; one vineyard may be limestone, another rich alluvial soil, another clay. In the reception area of the winery are soil samples from each of the vineyards and it is really surprising to see them side-by-side and note the dramatic difference. We think their wines reflect those differences in soil and terroir.

We visited and tasted at Zind Humbrecht (in Turkheim, Alsace) in September of 2001 and were taken by the beauty of Alsace. When trying to decide which Wine Country to visit, move Alsace to your top three!

Tasting Notes:
Joanne's: Expressive nose of yellow hay, light honey'd peach and jasmine with hints of cooked apples underlying. Hard minerally center softens with a slight hint towards sweetness on the finish. A tiny bit of spritz on the long bright finish with nicely integrated acids and lingering petrol-y notes. A sense of sourness at the end like green apple skin.

Jack's: Classic Riesling nose of tart green apples. Firm acids on the finish. I found this wine a bit one-dimensional on day one. We drank the second half of the bottle on day two and, wow, what a difference: So much flavor and complexity! Balanced, tart and wants food.
(I often decant Zind Humbrecht wines - I didn't this time but should have.)

Zind Humbrecht Wedding Cask
The Wedding Cask at Zind Humbrecht
CLICK for Detail here
It's the most beautiful wine barrel we've ever seen. Margaret Humbrecht explained that the specially carved cask commemorates her marriage to Olivier and also the marriage of his parents. There is also a specially carved barrel for the birth of their child in their cellar.

Herrenweg Vineyard
The Herrenweg Vineyard
The winery is in the background. (Photo courtesy of The Sorting Table and Zind Humbrecht)

Map of Zind Humbrecht
The Zind Humbrecht Vineyards Map
(from the Zind Humbrecht business card)

2001 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling Indice 2
Note the INDICE 2, above. The is Olivier's own sweetness scale (1=Bone Dry, 5=Almost a VT). Knowing how sweet a bottle of Alsatian wine is has been a recent problem for drinkers of Alsatian wine. Olivier is the only one who has seized the day by adding an Indice on each bottle.

2001 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling engraving
The bottle engraving
of the Clos Windsbuhl vineyard

Dinner with 2001 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling
What we ate with this wine
(Roasted Chicken with Tarragon Mustard,
Red Dandelion with Apples and Bacon,
Sweet Potatoes and Golden Beets)

Rangen Vineyard
The steep slopes of the
famous Rangen de Thann vineyard

(Photo courtesy of The Sorting Table and Zind Humbrecht)

Clos Jebsal and Brand Vineyards from the Heimbourg
Clos Jebsal and Brand vineyards
from the Heimbourg
(Photo courtesy of The Sorting Table and Zind Humbrecht)

Zind Humbrecht was imported into the US by Kermit Lynch for what seems like forever. But forever has ended; Zind Humbrecht is one of wineries that a newly formed importer began with the last year, The Sorting Table. Click on Portfolio, then Zind Humbrecht to read their Zind Humbrecht bio.

Zind Humbrecht wines, in general, are easy to find, although they're now in different wine stores and restaurants than they used to be, due to their change in importer. Getting a specific wine may be difficult, especially one of the very limited production dessert wines.

N.B.: Except where indicated, all photos are by Joanne.

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