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07.06.2005

1994 Zind Humbrecht "Heimbourg" Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive, Turkheim, Alsace

94heimbourg.jpgToday we are exploring off-dry wines as part of the monthly virtual tasting event known as Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's tasting is hosted by Beau over at Basic Juice.

My entry in this category is an Alsatian wine from one of the most famous producers in the region, Domaine Zind Humbrecht. The father and son operation has been in existence since 1959 when the marriage of the Zind and Humbrecht families brought together a passion for winemaking and some of the best land in Alsace under one roof. Leonard Humbrecht and his son Olivier (notable for being France's first Master of Wine) churn out a staggering number and variety of wines of exceptional quality from their various Grand Cru and name designated vineyards. The family has about 70 acres under cultivation, split among dozens of small vineyards which they have acquired over the years.

Zind Humbrecht keeps yields in these vineyards extremely low, sometimes half as much as the legally permissible tonnage for the appellation. This is helped by the fact that many of their vineyards are very difficult to work except by hand, having steep rocky slopes that permit only humans and horses to pass.

This wine is a single vineyard designate from the Heimbourg vineyard near Turckheim, a medieval village on the banks of the Fecht river. This parcel of grapes actually used to be considered part of the Grand Cru vineyard named Brand (also owned by the family) but was later delimited as separate by officials, and is now simply sold as "lieux-dits" or single vineyard designate. A rocky limestone strewn patch of grapes, the Heimbourg vineyard grows Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer grapes.

Given a designation of Vendange Tardive, or "VT" to fans of Alsatian and German wines, the grapes for this wine were harvested late, and contribute a moderate sweetness to the wine that theoretically puts it more in the dessert wine category than it does in the off-dry category that I am supposed to be writing about.

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a medium yellow-gold color in the glass and wafts scents of honeysuckle and warm hay (and do I smell sunshine ?) into the nose. In the mouth it is silky and smooth with primary flavors of clover honey, vanilla, candied orange peel, and paraffin. Medium sweet (due to the late harvest), I found the wine lacking some acid balance and complexity to make it truly fantastic as opposed to just tasty. The wine finishes smoothly, though without profundity.

Food Pairing:
This wine is good as an aperitif wine or as a dessert wine. I had it paired with a lovely Fatted Calf's spiced torchon of foie gras on a caramelized ramp and white bourbon peach tartlette.

Overall Score: 9

How Much?: can be purchased these days for $100

This wine is available online.

Comments (2)

Jack wrote:
07.06.05 at 11:35 PM

Alder: I think this wine simply needs more aging. Four days later I found this wine had jumped in complexity and deliciousness (is that a word?) (Say, from a 92, to a 97) - wish you had been there to retaste.

I have two more bottles...think I should wait 3-5 years before opening the next one.

Caveat: I love Alsatian Gewürztraminer.

Andrew wrote:
07.07.05 at 8:35 AM

I met Oliver Humbrecht last month - he went through a selection of his wines and talked of the vineyards and his passion for bio-dynamic wine-making. Loads of tasting notes which I am in the middle of writing up for spittoon. None are cheap though, sadly.

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