Hugel Masterclass at Armadale Cellars
Attended an excellent Famille Hugel (Riquewihr, Alsace) Masterclass at Armadale Cellars recently hosted by 13th generation winemaker Marc Hugel. Yes Hugel & Fils is now Famille Hugel, but the wines are as fine as they have always been!
The tasting opened with a Hugel Gentil 2015 Edelzwicker (Noble) blend of which Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat were represented. ‘Gentil’ is Hugel’s term for a blend that includes a high proportion of these ‘noble’ grape varieties. Hugel sell about a million bottles of this blend annually (equal to 40% of their entire production).
Next was a 2014 Pinot Blanc with its white flowers nose, flinty, mineral palate and fine acid – which was apparently well received by Barack and Michelle Obama at a G8 Conference.
The first Riesling was a 2014 with its dry, restrained citrus and soft integrated acid to the fore. This was replicated in the riper, slightly more textural 2009 Jubilee Riesling from the famous Schoenenbourg vineyard. The 2008 Jubilee Riesling which followed was another example of a fine Grand Cru (Grossi Laue) Schoenenbourg wine with its stone fruit nose and expressive minerality again in evidence.
A rich, rounded 2013 Pinot Gris followed with some peach on the nose and a hint of spice leading to a soft, dry palate, fine acid and long, lifted, full fruit finish and aftertaste.
Then came one of my ‘wines of the night’ – an aromatic, stylish 2013 Gewurztraminer. An intense, pure, well- balanced, medium to full bodied wine with notes of musk and lychee on the nose leading to with a silky, textural, flavoursome palate with more floral fruit and a dry lingering finish.
Quintessential Alsatian Gewurztraminer – nobody does it better!
The second last Hugel wine was a half-bottle of noble rot 2015 Pinot Gris VT (Ventange Tardive) or late Harvest with a residual sugar hovering at about 100 grams. Deep in colour but bright and robust this velvety, unctuous, ambrosial nectar reeked of honey, candied fruit (currants and pear). It caressed the palate, gave it a luxuriant hug and lingered on the back palate long and eloquently into the night – Oh for some foie gras, or some Stilton or Roquefort cheese!
Finally a mystery (masked) wine in the form of a 1995 Riesling capped off the evening. What a treat! The Riesling aficionados picked it a vintage from a cool year – I just sat back and enjoyed the rare experience of tasting a 22 year old quality Alsatian Riesling which –apart from it being not as sweet as the noble rot 2015 Pinot Gris VT – shared many of its unforgettable attributes.
Finally the first shall come last – to set up the palate a fine, aperitif, blanc de blanc Pierre Gimonnet 1er Cru Champagne opened proceedings – its fresh, clean minerality and fine fruit did it job and primed the palate perfectly!
A faultless flight of fine wines – my favourites were the Jubilee 2009, the 2013 Pinot Gris and 2013 Gewürztraminer and it was an obvious treat to sample the 1995 Riesling.
Let’s hope Marc returns to Australia next year as my future Heard it Through the Grapevine guest on 1179 AM Vision Australia Radio Melbourne.