Showing posts with label Hugel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hugel. Show all posts

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town


Torres and Hugel Impress as Findlaters All-Stars Come to Town
Part One: Hugel, Torres, and Chapoutier

Torres and Hugel were among the winemakers featured as Findlaters brought their all star combo, the Wineberries, to Cork’s Montenotte Hotel last week. Quite a line-up with Bollinger, Hugel, M. Chapoutier, Louis Jadot, Masi and Torres all showing their excellent wines.

Started off with a glass of Bolly and then got a chance to take in the views over the city, including the impressively refurbished hotel’s newly laid out gardens. It was quiet - I was early - so I had a good chance to walk around and savour what was coming.

Hugel
Wines of Alsace in the Montenotte, with the city in the background
I met a proper star at the Famille Hugel stand where I was greeted by none other than Jean Frédéric Hugel himself and a taste of their outstanding Gentil. Gentil is an Alsace tradition, made from all the white grapes of the estate. And it is done carefully, to a very high and controlled standard.

I’ve been very partial to it for quite a few years now (the Hugel one is on sale in Bradley’s). Jean Frédéric told me it is their best seller. “It is produced from six different grapes. These are blended after the wine-making stage to balance it better. It is super versatile and works well by the glass in restaurants.” I thought that was interesting as I cannot recall seeing it offered around this area. Maybe there’s an opening there - it is delicious and, as Jean Frédéric said, super versatile.

Many shrug when climate change is mentioned but those closest to the ground - the farmers - know it is happening. Jean Frédéric referred to it as he offered me their 2009 Pinot Noir, “their simplest Pinot but from a great vintage, stellar”. Especially because of climate change, the quality of Pinot Noir in the northern regions, including Alsace of course, is incomparable to what it was twenty years ago.” Burgundy beware seems to be the message.

Back in the old days, Alsace was known for its sweet wines and, like Germany (after Liebfraumilch), it took it a while to regain the respect for its wine. “But we have learned from those mistakes and are now back on track as a region”. I think that has been the case for quite a while now.

This was well illustrated with a couple of excellent Rieslings, beginning with the 2016, “a textbook Riesling, very dry”.  The 2015 was very dry again, “even a little flinty, a little bit smoky.. just a little bit of age now but this will evolve well”.

I then spotted the unmanned  Chapoutier stand nearby and helped myself to the sip of the white: Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2017, quite aromatic, good acidity and with a long finish. The whites here are often under-appreciated. The winemaker’s motto by the way is “Enjoy. Don’t over-analyse.”


Chapoutier’s winery and negociant business is situated in the Rhone area (with vineyards further afield, including Australia). “Our own vineyards and the single vineyards that we select from are cultivated either organically or biodynamically.”  He is of course famous for his reds and had the Cotes de Rhone Collection Bio on show here. I previously did a little feature on him and you may read it here

Torres
With Miguel Torres (left) in Dublin
"The more we care about the earth,
 the better our wine"

Torres is a big company but it is still a family company. And concerned about the climate. Just like Hugel, they see what is happening to the earth. 

Less than four years ago, Miguel Torres, one of the family’s fifth generation, spoke in Dublin saying the threats from climate change are been seen “more and more”. “Vineyards are very much at risk. Hailstorms are an example.” And they are doing something about it as you may read here in my article “Message in a bottle”

Lucas, whose parents are from Argentina, managed the Torres stand in the Montenotte and told me he had three different wines from different regions (plus one from Chile where the family is credited with reviving and transforming the industry). 

Torres are based in Penedes (near Barcelona) in the north east of Spain but our first wine was from the other side, an Albarino by Bruxas from Rias Baixas. No oak is used and it spends just six hours on lees. Very light, citrusy and refreshing with great acidity. “Very good with all seafood and goats cheese,” Lucas advised.

Torres seek out higher vineyards (climate change again a factor) and the grapes for the next wine, the Altos Ibericos, are grown between 400 and 700 metres above sea level in Rioja Alvesa. The altitude helps the grapes retain acidity. 

Sixteen months in French oak and two years in bottle qualifies this 2012 as Reserva. It is elegant, very smooth, with softer tannins. “As it ages, the tannins will soften more, the flavours will become more like dried fruit and the colour will fade a bit.” Good now and good in the future! Oh, by the way, it is one hundred per cent Tempranillo.

And another high vineyard featured in the story of our next wine, the Celeste Criaza 2016 from Ribera del Duero. The fruit is grown in the western part of the region at a height of 900 metres above sea level. It is more or less a continental climate and the diurnal range “is good, with cool nights”. And in cooler areas, the Tempranillo grape develops a thicker skin to help protect its valuable properties. Lucas described it as a fruit bomb but it is quite a rounded one, very drinkable indeed. Crianza means it has spent 12 months in French and US oak and 12 months on bottle before release.

So now to Chile and the old vines Manso de Velasco (grown close to the ocean), a superb Cabernet Sauvignon from 2013. It has spent 18 months in French oak, small barrels. It was a warm year and the abv is 13.5%. “Fruit flavours are of blackberries and cherries. Drink now,” Lucas says, “but it will last”. One to watch out for!

Jadot and Masi also featured; details here.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Your Weekend Whites. Trio with Brio!

Your Weekend Whites
Trio with Brio!

Georg Muller Stiftung, Edition PW Riesling trocken, Rheingau 2013, 13% €19.40 Karwig Wines

Colour is a very light gold and there are fruity aromas. On the palate you’ll find concentrated fresh fruit (nectarines, apricots), a slight tingly mouthfeel. Superb, this well balanced wine needs to be sipped and a sip will go a long way! Very Highly Recommended. 

This has the VDP eagle displayed on the neck, “a guarantee of pure wine pleasure”, not a bad start. The stiftung means a foundation and for many years the winery was a foundation for the benefit of the town of Eltville in the Hattenheim region. In 2003, it came back into private ownership. Peter Winter, a one-time boss and long-time friend of Joe Karwig, is the new owner and kept the existing name.


Hugel Gentil 2013, Alsace, 12.5%, €13.99 Bradley’s

This gorgeous wine, an “assemblage” of all the local grape varieties, is Hugel’s best seller, available throughout the world. The grapes are hand-picked and the blend is 15% Riesling, 19% Gewürztraminer, 2% Muscat, 24% Pinot Gris and 40% Sylvaner & Pinot Blanc. Closure by the way is also rather unusual as they us the DIAM method.

Not strong on colour, a light silver and traces of green, and there are attractive aromas (including fruit and floral elements). On the palate, is has a soft and supple feel, is full of flavour, dry and with a great finalé. The well balanced gem is “a delicious bargain” according to Hugh Johnson. Very Highly Recommended. 

Mas Peuch Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (Languedoc), 12.5%, €10.00 SuperValu
Light gold in colour, this aromatic wine, a refreshing mouthful, has white fruit and good acidity. Tart enough but no sign of the lip-stinging. Excellent as an aperitif and fine too with this evening’s sea-bream from Ballycotton Seafood in the English Market. 

Picpoul means lip-stinger in the local dialect and refers to the zestiness and almost salty tang. The grape is often blended to moderate the sting! I have come across some strongly acidic examples but there is nothing extreme in this one; it is moderate and is Highly Recommended.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Riesling? In a blend? Mais oui!


Hugel Gentil 2011, Alsace (France), 
12.5%, €13.99 Bradley’s Off Licence.

“Gentil is an old Alsace term, revived by the Hugel family, winemakers here since 1639. It is a blend of noble grapes. It is gently dry, round and pleasingly aromatic. It is an ideal introduction to Alsace wines.”

That is what it says on the back label and I found it pretty accurate. Colour is light green, pale yellow, very bright. And it is aromatic, mainly floral. On the palate, it is fruity, not overly so. It is fresh and fleshy. Dry, gently so, as they say. Highly recommended.

The grapes are hand harvested and the blend is Gewürztraminer (11%), Pinot Gris (18), Riesling (16), Muscat (7), Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc (48).

The closure is DIAM and you may read about this method here.

Bradley’s also stock the Hugel 2011 Riesling, a great drink methinks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hugel 2011: My kind of Riesling


Hugel 2011: My kind of Riesling






Hugel Riesling 2011, Alsace (France), 12.5%, €19.99 at Bradley’s Off Licence

Nothing is left to chance by the Hugel family, whose winegrowing tradition in the very centre of Alsace goes back to 1639. The Michelin Wine Regions of France gives the demanding details: “Meticulous harvesting and wine-making methods include the absence of fertilisers, hand-picked grapes, ruthless selection of stock and voluntary restricted yields.”

Sounds pretty severe but one of the result is this Riesling gem.

This is a bright wine, with a mainly straw colour with hints of green. The nose is fresh and fruity and on the palate it is beautiful and fresh and absolutely dry. A lovely, lively example of the variety with a citrus tinged finish. Very Highly Recommended.