Hugel Riesling Grossi Laue 2013
Rarely have we seen a vintage subject to so many variations in the weather. The season started late with a damp spring and coulure, causing a smaller than usual crop. High temperatures and exceptional summer weather brought the grapes to perfect levels of maturity. Right from the start of our harvest on 1st October the grapes were very healthy and ripe, and so 2013 was a classic Alsace vintage of intense, pure, well balanced wines. Uneven weather at the very end of the harvest prevented any significant production of Late Harvest wines.” -Jean-Frederic Hugel
Great classic Riesling which starts to show its promises but which will gain in complexity for 8 years or more. Its minerality and long complex aftertaste will make it the ideal partner to noble fish or seafood dishes.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The merest suggestion of ripe apricot beckons through an aromatic layer of dried lemon zest. The bone-dry palate then proceeds to push both these poles—the spiky taut lemon and the dreamy balm-like apricot—to their extremes in a wonderfully expansive but toned body. Concentration and finesse aligned to inherent power is what speaks from just a mouthful of this stuff. This is weapons-grade Riesling that kills with charm alone. The pure dry finish is outstanding.
Tons of floral honey, candied citrus, papaya and pineapple, making this an unusual Alsace riesling. But it has a great balance and a very long, almost-silky finish. Impressive now, but will surely develop further in bottle
Bright and mouthwatering, with a finely meshed profile of blood orange and melon fruit, apple blossom and pickled ginger, this delivers a lingering, minerally finish of stone and spice. Very appealing. Drink now through 2028.
In the cellars, the oldest of which dates back to 1551, can be seen rows of oak wine casks, over one hundred years old, crafted by the forefathers of the present generation of Hugels now running the company. Near them is the oldest cask in the world still in use: the Sainte Caterine, which has a capacity of 8,800 litres. It was built in 1715, the year in which Louis XIV died.
The company has always maintained its family character and is determined to keep it that way. The vineyards are owned and farmed by individual members of the family whereas the company owns the buildings and machinery.
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticultural regions. This hotly contested stretch of land running north to south on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory. Nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, it is one of the driest regions of France but enjoys a long and cool growing season. Autumn humidity facilitates the development of “noble rot” for the production of late-picked sweet wines, Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties, the only ones permitted within Alsace’s 51 Grands Crus vineyards, are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris.
Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty. In its youth, Alsatian Riesling is dry, fresh and floral, but develops complex mineral and flint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat, vinified dry, tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal.
Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted in Alsace and mainly used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Most Alsatian wines are single-varietal bottlings and unlike other French regions, are also labeled with the variety name.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. It can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and the best exmples can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Tasting Notes for Riesling
Riesling can be a sweet or dry white wine. In any case it usually has a high acidity and stone fruit, citrus, spice and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Perfect Food Pairings for Riesling
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, freshly shucked oysters and most Asian food. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
Sommelier Secrets for Riesling
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.