Zind-Humbrechtâ€™s 2007 Gewurztraminer Hengst Selection de Grains Nobles â€“ their first such wine ever from this site, and vinified in a new mini-oval cask â€“ offers distilled-strength mint, sage flower, rose petal, and litchi. Licorice, herbal liqueur, vanilla icing, cinnamon candy, and candied citrus rind saturate the palate, their confectionary character backed up by enormous sweetness. This clings with abandon. This would make an amazingly luxurious dessert wine, but one imagines â€“ there being no tract record, as Olivier Humbrecht readily points out himself â€“ that it will become more complex and seductively drinkable as it matures, as well as perhaps more reflective of its great site. How many decades it will age cannot really be predicted either. And who knows when or whether such a wine will be harvested again in the Hengst by a Humbrechts, seeing it took 48 years for the first such wine to fall from their presses?
â€After the experience of 2003,â€ remarks Olivier Humbrecht with an eye to his 2007s, â€œIâ€™m never going to complain about having and extra gram or two of acidity.â€ In fact, Humbrecht considers 2007 ideal in nearly every respect, having permitted the grower the luxury of picking under optimum conditions for each grape variety and style. The fruit was completely healthy, insists Humbrecht, â€œyou could walk through the vineyards for half an hour and fine one spoiled berry,â€ â€¦ except, of course, where the rot was noble! This yearâ€™s generally dry-tasting, relatively low-alcohol, high acid, high-extract Rieslings are not always the most youthfully approachable or winsome in style, but the best are profound; whereas Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer ran to extremities of potential alcohol, even though the harvest was finished before mid-October. Far fewer wines went through malo-lactic transformation here from 2007 than usual â€“ the pHs were often so low they proved inhospitable to the necessary bacteria. As for 2006, itâ€™s clear that this is a year to test the meddle of any grower, and it is therefore not surprising that Zind-Humbrecht was among the estates to demonstrate that excellence and even excitement were not ruled out by the weather. Furthermore, he arrived at an average 2006 yield virtually identical to that of 2005. â€œOf course,â€ asserts Humbrecht, â€œquality in 2006 depended on how you handle your vineyards and your vines the whole year through. It was a vintage where, if you made a mistake in the vineyards, you got slapped pretty hard at harvest time, unlike 2007 where if you made a mistake, nature was forgiving.â€ The completion of fermentations in 2007 was spread over even more months than usual, often with late bottling; frequently with no racking; and my notes are based both on tastings from bottle early this year (sometimes referencing the wineâ€™s performance from cask) and in a few instances solely on tastings from cask. Two 2007 Pinot Gris â€œTrie Specialeâ€ â€“ from Clos Windsbuhl and Clos Jebsal â€“ were not even wine yet last I visited, and will in any case not be released for at least another year.
A textbook version, with a creamy palate that showcases flavors of lychee, orange zest, white pepper, rose petal and a touch of honey. This is dry, with zesty acidity driving through to the lingering, smoke-tinged finish. Very open-knit and delicious. Drink now through 2020. 175 cases made. â€“AN