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November 21, 2018

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand 2015, 6×75, £225, 96+ Pts, & Gewürztraminer Rangen Clos Saint Urbain 2015, 6×75, £265, 94+ Pts

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Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is the pinnacle of Alsace, forming part of the pantheon of the world’s great wines. Their Grand Cru plots are among the finest white wines in the world, spanning the four noble grape varieties; Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Alsace provides the canvass for such versatility, yet Domaine Zind-Humbrecht provides the sublime brushstrokes to form their masterpieces. Their wines are among the highest scoring, with numerous perfect 100 point scores. We have been tasting through recent vintages and have selected two stand out wines, which provide brilliant quality, reflective of the Domaine’s highest potential.

The first is their Riesling Brand Grand Cru 2015, one of the finest ever from this brilliant Grand Cru vineyard. In 2015 it was awarded 95-96 points from Stephan Reinhardt of the Wine Advocate. He calls it ‘a must buy of the vintage…This is pure, rich, lean, piquant and mineral, very stony, lush and fruity. Most of all, it is full of energy and fascination! A must buy!’ This is its third highest score ever and boasts an incredible drinking window, 2020 to 2040, although I’d posit it is drinking brilliantly now. The 2015 was awarded 96+ from Vinous Media, its highest ever score. The price today is £225 per case of six giving it a Price over Points ratio (POP) of 28, unthinkably low for one of the world’s leading wines, it is a struggle to think of any wine which is better value, or more age worthy for under £38 a bottle.

The vineyard itself is sited in Turckheim, it is one of the most famous and marvelled vineyards in Alsace, it is also a thing of legend. The vineyard meaning is ‘land of fire’, a myth telling of the sun vanquishing a dragon in the vineyard, thereon forcing it to withdraw to a dark cavern below. This therefore accounting for the warmth and heat of this magical spot. It could also bear the name on account of a fire that once eroded the vineyard: la meme chose! What matters is the vineyard’s brilliant aspect, combined with its terroir, it lies entirely on a substratum of Turckheim granite. The soil is made up of granite and black mica regolith, producing brilliant depth: a silty coarse sand (arenite) which allows the roots to bury down through fissures in the bedrock. The result is a wine of brilliant poise, balance, finesse and elegance. Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Brand 2015 displays mesmerising notes of bergamots, honeyed fruit, peaches, acacia, tangerine and herbs, finishing with sweet and Asian spices. There is a Montrachet like richness, plenty of acidity, with a stony finish and minerality. It is a brilliant wine!

Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain Grand Cru 2015 is a remarkable wine, we posit the finest Gewürztraminer in the world. The vineyard is one of the most famous from any region, it is in fact the most southerly of the Alsace vineyards, sited on the Rangen hillside. The Grand Cru Rangen de Thann is located at the exit of the valley, overlooking the Village of Than. The Clos Saint Urbain vineyard encompasses the chapel of Saint Urbain. The terroir is unique, dating from the Carboniferous era (dévono-dinantien), it is made up of volcanic rocks and sedimentary sandstones. Only 0.5 ha are planted with Gewürztraminer, grown towards the bottom of the hillside where there are higher proportions of clay in the soil and a great warmth from the reflection of the sun on the river. As one can imagine, it is a remarkable site for a remarkable wine.

The 2015 vintage is the highest ever scoring vintage from Vinous Media with a stunning 95+ points, it is a brilliant wine and the exemplar of Gewürztraminer, which is an extremely aromatic grape, Gewürz meaning spice in German. Ian D’Agata of Vinous Media says ‘I love this sort of wine; when Alsace has a good vintage for Gewürz (and 2015 is a great vintage for this variety), there is no other wine like it in the world. Outstanding.’ It has also been awarded 94+ points from the Wine Advocate, the second highest in the last ten years.

Zind-Humbrecht do it best in their Rangen Clos Saint Urbain vineyard, it has stunning notes of spice, with clove, as well as rose petals, orange blossom, cashews and lychee. The fruit purity is immense, with nectarine, apricots and incredible minerality on the finish. The Wine Advocate calls this ‘A great Gewürztraminer!’, it is largely viewed as the greatest of them all. Its incredible texture makes it a brilliant wine to drink on its own, however, although cliched, it is the quintessential wine to have with spicy cuisine, with some residual sugar, combined with admirable acidity and brilliant spice, the rich fruit and texture combine with spices in food and bring out a stunning gastronomic wine experience. The price is £265 per case of six, or £44 pounds a bottle, a brilliant buy for the finest wine of its kind. For its complexity, its versatility and for its ability to accompany food this is a must have wine for any cellar.

The Humbrecht family can trace their vinicultural roots back to 1620. Domaine Zind-Humbrecht itself was created in 1959, following the marriage of Leonard Humbrecht to Genevieve Zind. Today the wines are largely made by Olivier Humbrecht, who needs little introduction as the first French Master of Wine and one of the few winemakers. He is also one of the champions of biodynamics, the current president of Biodyvin. The Domaine has some of the most enviable sites in Alsace, which they have cultivated for generations. The Domaine has been one of the global pioneers in winemaking.

In Alsace they were the vanguard of focusing on low yields, biodynamic viticulture and on minimal intervention. The fermentations are slow, with wines spending six months on their lees. One ongoing project of Olivier is removing filtering from wines, currently he filters 12-24 months after harvest, waiting until after winter racking, filtering once they are clear in the cask. He believes that filtering before this damages the wines. In 1992 the family left their old cellars, moving into new, state of the art facilities. From here they managed to move away from the practice of chaptalisation, the addition of sugar to their wines. Their dedication to low yields has meant potential sugar has overcome this need, allowing the wines to have a stunning natural balance of sugar and acidity pre fermentation. The wines are made from the finest vineyards, by one of the world’s finest winemakers. Precision and finesse are the two words that define the wines.

We are delighted to offer the two wines today, however subject to availability, production is minuscule and we could only secure very small parcels.

To buy this wine please click here