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2020 Zind Humbrecht, Alsace

Latest releases from one of the great winemakers of Alsace: 2020 Zind Humbrecht

The latest 2020 vintage from Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace has just been released, which means it's that time of year when our task is to convince you that you should be drinking these wines on a weekly, if not daily basis!  With scores of 95-99 points and some epic tasting notes from James Suckling, these are not to be missed.

Alsace produces some of the world's greatest white wines and Olivier Humbrecht is one of its greatest winemakers.  The value and quality offered (by the grands crus, in particular) are extraordinary, grown on centuries-old sites, composed of highly complex soils thrown up by the steep slopes of the Vosges mountains.

If you are 'Alsace-curious', but unsure where to start, it's worth noting that Humbrecht's white winemaking style is savoury and terroir-driven.  Perhaps you have encountered varieties like Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer and found them highly perfumed, without the structure we associate with styles like white burgundy...but these are not those!  

Rather than a 'varietal' style of winemaking, Humbrecht's whites tend to express their sense of place first and foremost.  We were dismayed once when we encountered one of his wines in a blind-tasting exam, identifying it straight away as from Alsace, but with not a clue as to the variety.  It turned out to be a Muscat which, like Gewurztraminer, is supposedly one of the most identifiable varieties in the world and a 'banker' of a question in a tasting exam!  

With their naturally pronounced acidity and influence of white grape tannins which Humbrecht likes to emphasise, these wines have marvellous tension, even in ripe vintages like 2020.  As well as possessing excellent structure and expressing the identity of Alsace so brilliantly, these are 'food wines' par excellence and will enhance (and be enhanced by) so many different foods.  

New to our offer this year is the 2020 'Zind' Chardonnay Auxerrois, equal in quality to some of the best domaine-bottled Bourgogne Blancs.  Classified as a humble 'Vin de France', because Chardonnay is not permitted to be labelled under the Alsace appellation, this is from an excellent limestone-dominated vineyard and is great value at just £90 per six in bond!

By the way, if you are wondering why the '20s are only now being released, it helps to remember that Humbrecht ferments the wines incredibly slowly, often for up to a year, developing incredible flavour concentration in the process. 

Here are some extracts from Olivier Humbrecht's own notes about the warm 2020 vintage in Alsace:

2020 followed a beautiful 2019 vintage. ...Winter 2019/2020 was dry and mild. We feared an early budbreak, but colder temperatures in March delayed the budbreak to early April and there was no spring frosts after.

Dry and sunny conditions kept the risk of diseases very low and precipitated the start of the flowering at the end of May. The flowering was fast, finishing for most vineyards very early June...The whole month of August was very warm, so a second rainfall mid-August was again very beneficial and accelerating the ripening process, so the harvest started August 25th with our valley floor Pinot-Gris. The speed at which the grapes ripened in 2020 is comparable to 2015. Early September, it was possible to measure up to 2.5% potential alcohol increase in a week! The 2020 harvest was epic, with the Covid restrictions and the need to really go fast, harvesting different vineyards every day, it was an organisational challenge. Checking vineyards regularly was crucial in determining the exact date of harvest. In some vintages, harvesting two days late has no consequences, but in 2020, it could mean that some wines would end up with residual sugar or excessive alcohol. There was some rainfalls early September but with no consequence. We finished the harvest the 15th September with our Grand Cru Gewurztraminer vineyards. No late harvest wines were made in 2020 (too dry, very healthy grapes and no botrytis!).

The 2020 wines show good ripeness level and our efforts to be as much as possible on time to pick our vineyards (up to 90 people at one point) shows in the potential balance of the wines, with all wines being dry (really very dry for some) at the exception of single vineyard gewurztraminer. 2020 also has interesting acidity levels, mostly tartaric. Intense sunshine and luminosity helped the skins of the grapes to reach a good phenolic ripeness and therefore all the wines show great tannins, again, a characteristic very similar to 2015. 

You can read more about Domaine Zind-Humbrecht at the foot of our offer, below.

Offered pre-landing, available by January 2023.

 
 
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace

Producer Profile

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace

The Humbrecht family have grown grapes in the great terroirs of Alsace since 1620.  Domaine Zind Humbrecht was created in 1959 and today owns 40ha of vines in the Grand Crus of Rangen de Thann (5.5ha), Goldert in Gueberschwihr (0.9ha), Hengst in Wintzenheim (1.4ha) and Brand in Turckheim (2.4ha); as well as the terroirs of Rotenberg (1.8ha) and Clos Häuserer (1.2ha) in Wintzenheim; Herrenweg (11.5ha), Clos Jebsal (1.3ha) and Heimbourg (4ha) in Turckheim and the Clos Windsbuhl (5.15ha) in Hunawihr.

As well as being winemaker at the family domaine, Olivier Humbrecht became the first French Master of Wine, in 1989, at the age of just 26.

The expression of terroir, conveyed through grape varieties of Alsace, is reinforced by cultivating the vines organically and according to biodynamic principles. Great lengths are gone to each growing season to produce the best quality grapes from each vineyard. As respect for the vine and soil life is imperative, the viticultural tasks are carried out by a team of 22 dedicated staff members. The high ratio of vineyard worker to vineyard surface enables an attention to detail and the execution of many of the viticultural tasks manually. In addition, animal traction and the use of their own compost help to reduce the impact of mechanical compaction on the soils.  Fermentations are very slow, and the wines spend a minimum of 6 months on the total lees

 

WHITE 2020 2 cases Zind Humbrecht - Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl 75cl £210 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl
2020 / 2 cases / 75cl
£210 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Very fragrant nose of yellow and pink roses with plenty of turkish delight. Very concentrated, but the fine tannins and excellent freshness (in spite of modest acidity) give this a wonderful balance, which makes this frankly off-dry gewurz hard to resist. And the turkish-delight finish is also something else! From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 95 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 1 case Zind Humbrecht - Gewurztraminer Hengst Grand Cru 75cl £210 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Gewurztraminer Hengst Grand Cru
2020 / 1 case / 75cl
£210 per case of 6
IB
WHITE 2020 4 cases Zind Humbrecht - Muscat Goldert 75cl £135 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Muscat Goldert
2020 / 4 cases / 75cl
£135 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"A very complex and structured wine for muscat, with aromas of star fruit, passion fruit,Thai basil and mandarin, plus a hint of youthful yeastiness. Great textural complexity considering this weighs in at just under 13% alcohol. Plenty of chalky drive through the long, expansive finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 95 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 2 cases Zind Humbrecht - Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl 75cl £210 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl
2020 / 2 cases / 75cl
£210 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"This smells of the ripest melon you can imagine. Fresh herbal notes, including a touch of mint. Super-elegant and bright with a very sensual, silky texture on the generous palate. The stunning concentration masks the high acidity that drives the very long and chalky finish. With this much vitality it surely has enormous aging potential. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 96 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 1 case Zind Humbrecht - Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain 75cl £285 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain
2020 / 1 case / 75cl
£285 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Super smoky, spicy and flinty, this imposing and enveloping pinot gris is barely off-dry. Welcome to a world of smoky and textural complexity on the deep and refined palate. The power and concentration are almost as complete as the ripeness, effortlessly handling the 13.5% alcohol. Super-long, creamy and spicy finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 98 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 4 cases Zind Humbrecht - Riesling Clos Hauserer 75cl £168 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Riesling Clos Hauserer
2020 / 4 cases / 75cl
£168 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"A lot of riesling freaks say the grape needs stony soils, but here’s a beautiful example of how well it can do on clay-rich soil. So much citrus and peach here, even though there’s still a touch of youthful leeriness. Rich and powerful, it also has a very firm core behind the breathtaking succulence. Already great integration of concentration, fine tannins and bright acidity through the very long and complete finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 96 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 1 case Zind Humbrecht - Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 75cl £230 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Riesling Clos Windsbuhl
2020 / 1 case / 75cl
£230 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Still very youthful, with a wealth of cool and delicate herbal and stone-fruit aromas. Very straight and vertical, with super-elegant and energetic acidity. Tons of chalky power, but the fruit is only just beginning to open up on the sleek but very compact palate. I love the really long, fragrant finish. The structure and harmony for very long aging! From biodynamically grown grapes. Drinkable now, but best from 2024. 95 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 7 cases Zind Humbrecht - Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain 75cl £285 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain
2020 / 7 cases / 75cl
£285 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"So smoky, with intense gunpowder character, but also notes of forest mushrooms and jack fruit. This is not only very concentrated, but also has an amazingly sensual mouth-feel that sets out in the wide field of exciting dry Alsace rieslings from the 2020 vintage. Expands and expands as it flows over your palate until it blows your mind at the unbelievably long, smoky finish. From biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. 99 points" jamessuckling.com
WHITE 2020 5 cases Zind Humbrecht - Zind' Chardonnay-Auxerrois 75cl £90 per case of 6 Zind Humbrecht
Zind' Chardonnay-Auxerrois
2020 / 5 cases / 75cl
£90 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"Pale yellow color. The nose is still massively dominated by the influence of limestone, so the wine is still austere and tight today. As usual, this young Zind takes time to open up but eventually reveals fresh citrus aromatics and above all a sensation of wet stones. On the palate, we find the typical delicate aspect of the Windsbuhl wines which are characterized by an airy, lacy structure. All the energy of the wine is carried by a magnificent ripe and salivating acidity. We do not find the solar character of the vintage on this wine as it expresses character and lightness at the same time. The finish is long and salivating." Producer's note, Aug '21

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