I’ll Drink to That: Olivier Humbrecht of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht

Episode 362 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Olivier Humbrecht, who today leads the Zind-Humbrecht winery in Alsace.

Olivier Humbrecht is widely known to be one of wine’s deep thinkers, a cerebral man who has an answer for even some of the field’s most obscure and abstruse questions. But this interview finds him in more of an emotive frame of mind. Surveying his life, he is grateful for the generosity of Henri Jayer, happy for the example of Serena Sutcliffe, and obviously in awe of his own father, Leonard Humbrecht. Olivier refers to Leonard as an old vineyard collector, and there are some notable stories from Olivier in the interview about how Leonard did in-depth research, searching for the esteemed vineyards of the past that had fallen into neglect after the world wars. The Rangen, which Olivier feels is widely replanted today only because of his father, and the Clos Windsbuhl, are two examples. There are detailed histories for both sites, and they both seem unique within Alsace: the Rangen for its compacted volcanic base and the Windsbuhl for its isolation. Olivier precisely explains why each is important. He also is precise in his statements about what Leonard brought to the winemaking at the domaine, and what he himself did subsequently as well. Both father and son introduced innovations (temperature-controlled foudre and whole-cluster pressing, are examples) that have found wider acceptance in the region in more recent times. As always, you will learn a lot about winemaking from Olivier Humbrecht. But the richness of this interview is in all the other context that is provided as well.

This episode features a Warm-Up from Erin on the soils of Alsace.

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I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine