The 2019 vintage from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht has just been released, with superb scores from James Suckling. Olivier Humbrecht is one of the world's great winemakers and his grands crus in particular are a bargain when compared to equivalents from Burgundy, so it is madness that his wines are not more widely enjoyed in this country. Unfamiliar names and perhaps a bit of uncertainty over style and sweetness levels are one reason for this. The three lieu-dits and five grands crus below are all dry on the palate, except for the Gewurztraminers, which show some sweetness in youth. All are in strictly limited quantities with scores ranging from 95-98 points.
2019 already had the makings of a good year, following on from the excellent 2018 vintage (vines have a two-year growing cycle and in good years lay down embryonic buds for the following growing season). The summer was warm and largely dry, with some timely rainfall in August, avoiding excessive water-stress and allowing the grapes to reach perfect ripeness. Despite this, acidity levels were also excellent, so much so that the fermentations, which are slowed by high acidity, took up to a year to complete. This acidity also means that most will still be drinking in 20-30 years. The wines have brilliant concentration, structure and refinement.
Suckling's high scores and succinct notes heap praise on the 2019s, but these are wines which defy simple explanation. For us, the best writer by far among the current wine critics is Andrew Jefford, who wrote an article in the FT this summer in praise of Olivier as a winemaker:
"Many domains in Alsace and Germany produce huge ranges of 30 or more wines, but their diversity is chimerical: a matter of labels and vineyard names, while the wines resemble each other. Not so with Zind-Humbrecht. Every wine...Humbrecht makes each year is clearly differentiated from its peers - strikingly characterful, saturated with scent texture and flavour. They are singular sensual objects of huge personality and impact."
Jefford's lyrical conclusion is that, since wine is "a liquid subject to the depredations of time (it) can be neither monumental nor abiding. Yet Humbrecht’s come close." We agree with this conclusion and cannot recommend these wines highly enough.
See Oliver Humbrecht introduces his domaine in this short film:
Offered pre-landing, available by January 2022
|RED||2019||1 case||Zind Humbrecht - Pinot Noir Heimbourg||75cl||£150 per case of 6||Zind Humbrecht
Pinot Noir Heimbourg
2019 / 1 case / 75cl
£150 per case of 6
|WHITE||2019||1 case||Zind Humbrecht - Riesling Clos Hauserer||75cl||£220 per case of 6||Zind Humbrecht
Riesling Clos Hauserer
2019 / 1 case / 75cl
£220 per case of 6
Tasting Notes"The Clos Häuserer is a little 1.2ha vineyard planted with Riesling in 1973. It isn’t an historic vineyard as such as it was created by my father, who managed to group together many small parcels to form a large coherent square. It is bordered on the top by the Hengst Grand Cru and the Häuserer road just below (the road to the houses in reference to an old roman settlement not far away). It was easy then to appreciate the quality potential of this vineyard and its capacity to produce long lived wines. The Clos Häuserer is lying on the same mother rock as the Hengst: a siliceous marl limestone from the oligocen period, but with a top soil layer much thicker (about 1 meter). This vineyard enjoys a warm micro-climate in summer, but the soil remains cool and the vines never suffer from drought. Like many wines produced on this geology, the Clos Häuserer is slow to ferment. The 2019 was harvested at a perfect ripeness and finished bone dry." Olivier Humbrecht MW------"With its cornucopia of yellow fruit, floral notes and wet-stone character, this is at once fleshy and enormously structured. Nothing opulent or warm about it at all, though. In fact, the very long finish is decisively cool. You really need some time to take in this embarrassment of riches! From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 96 points." James Suckling, Jamessuckling.com Jul '21