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2012 Riesling Estate Hugel
Maison Hugel was founded in 1639 by H. U. Hugelin, this is one of most famous wine producers in Alsace. The wine estate has around 25 hectares of vineyards, as well as buying grapes from nearly 300 contracted growers. Hugel have obtained official recognition for the concept of late harvest wines - Vendages Tardives and Sélection des Grains Nobles - and consistently make some of the finest examples of these in Alsace.
For Johnny Hugel, quality originates in the vineyard. He says: "100% of the quality of a true wine is already in the grapes, not in the cellars where you can only lose quality".
No fertilisers are used in the vineyards and yields are kept very low
In the winery, both stainless steel and oak foudres are used for maturation, depending on the respective varietal and quality level. These are splendid wines of class and finesse.
Riesling's twin peaks are its intense perfume and its piercing crisp acidity which it manages to retain even at high ripeness levels.
In Germany, Riesling constitutes around 20% of total plantings, yet it is responsible for all its greatest wines. It is planted widely on well-drained, south-facing slate-rich slopes, with the greatest wines coming from the best slopes in the best villages. It produces delicate, racy, nervy and stylish wines that cover a wide spectrum of flavours from steely and bone dry with beautifully scented fruits of apples,apricots, and sometimes peaches, through to the exotically sweet flavours of the great sweet wines.
It is also an important variety in Alsace where it produces slightly earthier, weightier and fuller wines than in Germany. The dry Rieslings can be austere and steely with hints of honey while the Vendages Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles are some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
It is thanks to the New World that Riesling is enjoying a marked renaissance. In Australia the grape has developed a formidable reputation, delivering lime-sherbet fireworks amid the continental climate of Clare Valley an hour's drive north of Adelaide, while Barossa's Eden Valley is cooler still, producing restrained stony lime examples from the elevated granitic landscape; Tasmania is fast becoming their third Riesling mine, combining cool temperatures with high UV levels to deliver stunning prototypes.
New Zealand shares a similar climate, with Riesling and Pinot Gris neck to neck in their bid to be the next big thing after Sauvignon Blanc; perfectly suited is the South Island's Central Otago, with its granitic soils and continental climate, and the pebbly Brightwater area near Nelson. While Australia's Rieslings tend to be full-bodied & dry, the Kiwis are more inclined to be lighter bodied, more ethereal and sometimes off-dry; Alsace plays Mosel if you like.
Riesling is the undisputed king of Alsace grapes, covering 22.5 percent of the vineyard area and producing some of the noblest and most age-worthy wines in the region, including Vendange Tardive, Sélection de Grains Nobles, and Grands Crus.
Dry, refined, and delicately fruity, it has an elegant bouquet of citrus fruit with mineral or floral notes. A typical mature Alsace Riesling is bone dry, with steely acidity and complex mineral and flint aromas. Like its German counterpart, it displays a superb definition of flavours, but with more concentration and alcohol.
It thrives on schist, shale and slate soils that convey oily, petrolly, mineral aromas to the wine.