Wed 24 Jun 2015

An Alsace Spring: Hugel Visit, Trimbach News

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And to finish my piece on the ‘Alsace spring’, events relating to visits by the Hugel family…

Hugel is The Society’s oldest supplier for Alsace. We are not sure when the romance started; suffice to say that The Society is Hugel’s second-oldest customer in the UK after The Savoy!

Our first purchase was likely to have been a modest chasselas-sylvaner blend. This has now evolved over the years and today The Society’s Vin d’Alsace (£7.95) is a very smart dry white indeed. Sylvaner remains the base but nearly all the region’s grape varieties are included in the blend. Currently we are on the 2013 vintage which is the best made for a while. 2014 promises also to be pretty special.

This year Hugel et Fils changes its name to Famille Hugel: recognition that three generations now work for the business and that at least one of them is not a man! Times are a-changing.

The brand new Hugel wine: Schoelhammer Riesling 2007

The brand new Hugel wine: Schoelhammer Riesling 2007

Not to be outdone by their cousins, the Trimbachs, Hugel are also releasing something grand and mature for the first time. And what is really exciting is that it’s a completely new wine made from riesling.

This will be a riesling, from the great 2007 vintage and it will come from a single vineyard called Schoelhammer, a small plot of old vines on the grand cru Schoenenbourg above the town of Riquewihr.

Such an event had to be marked by a grand occasion and so journalists, buyers and sommeliers were invited to taste the new baby on a wonderfully sunny spring day in London. The event was not disappointing. Riesling Schoelhammer is unquestionably a great dry riesling and I can’t wait to have it here in Stevenage for members to buy.

Three generations from the Hugel family came to London that day. Etienne Hugel was there together with his son Jean-Frederic. Better still, André came to represent the senior generation at the unveiling of Schoelhammer Riesling. Etienne’s father is 86 years old and hasn’t really retired. (The senior Trimbach, Bernard, 83, is much the same.)

Three generations of the Hugel family: (l-r) Jean-Frederic, Etienne and André

Three generations of the Hugel family: (l-r) Jean-Frederic, Etienne and André

Born in 1929, André Hugel is the survivor of three extraordinary brothers whose lives encompassed the tragedies of the war years. Alsace did not just suffer occupation as with the rest of France: it was officially annexed by Germany which meant that Alsace men could be called up. Georges, the eldest was called and was wounded on the Eastern Front. Johnny fared better, serving mostly in Italy and avoiding any fighting, acquiring fluency in Italian instead.

Johnny would come to occupy a central place in Alsace not just for Hugel but as a veritable ambassador for Alsace wines in general. André was 15 when on 5th December 1944, Riquewihr was liberated by a Texan regiment. Andre Hugel ensures that the flag of the lone star state is hoisted above the town hall every year to mark the anniversary.

For André Hugel this was his first ever visit to the UK. As Riquewihr’s residential archivist and historian, a visit to London seemed long overdue and thanks to Ray Bowden, one time chairman of The Society, visits to the Cabinet War Rooms were duly arranged. That was in the morning before all three Hugels travelled up to Stevenage. They were greeted by both past and present Chairmen of the Society and by our Chief Executive for a guided tour of the premises followed by lunch.

A Note on Trimbach

Jean Trimbach

Jean Trimbach enjoying his own recent visit to Stevenage!

In my last post, I mentioned that Alsace wines often need time to come round. Many produces hold their best wine back until they feel they’re quite ready. Pierre Gassmann or Domaine Rolly Gassmann is soon to release a top gewurztraminer from the 1994 vintage and he still has some 1990 riesling to put on the market. Trimbach, undoubtedly one of the great names in Alsace also release top wines late. We have some stock of their top wine, Clos Sainte Hune, from the 2009 vintage, released earlier this year (£109).

Trimbach have also been busy buying up vineyards, never too far away from Ribeauvillé, but these will allow them to improve quality and launch new wines. Indeed, a new Trimbach riesling will be launched this year and it promises to be something very special. Watch this space.

Also exciting from Trimbach is the new bottling machine, an expensive investment, but one which will have a positive effect on quality and even allow for bottling under screwcap. We’ve just taken delivery of the 2013 Pinot Blanc (£8.95) under screwcap, and the wine is quite delicious.

Marcel Orford-Williams
Society Buyer

Find wines from Hugel and Trimbach in our current offer of the 2013 Alsace vintage.

Comments

  1. Steven says:

    Hi Marcel

    This is a really nice blog post and great to hear about some of the new wines in Alsace – my favourite is Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile although I have some Clos St Hune’s maturing away in the cellar. I may be hijacking the thread here but I’m a huge lover of the Domaine Faller/Weinbach wines and was wondering if the Society planned to bring any of their more entry-level wines in (such as the Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Cuvee Theo – Riesling)?

    Thanks.

    Steven.

    • Marcel Orford-Williams says:

      Not at all, thanks for your comment. We do stock their Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc when we can; magnums of the latter are currently available here: http://www.thewinesociety.com/shop/productdetail.aspx?section=pd&pl=&pd=AL11314&pc=&prl=
      Cuvée Theo we do not do as we feel, for the price, there is better elsewhere.

      • Steven says:

        Thanks Marcel. The Pinot Blanc (at the time of writing) appears to be out of stock but will keep checking for its re-listing.

        I really like it that the Wine Society has a great Alsace range. I buy wines from quite a few places and you guys are unrivalled, in my opinion, when it comes to selection of quality Alsace.

        Really looking forward to seeing more in this space…

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