Talking about Alsatian viticulture without mentioning Zind-Humbrecht is a rather complicated speculative exercise, since it is the winery that, perhaps most of all, has contributed to the development of this region. The Domaine was born in 1959 from the union of the lands of the Humbrecht and the Zind families, two dynasties that for centuries cultivated the vine in Gueberschwihr (Humbrecht) and Wintzenheim (Zind), in Alsace, united by the marriage between Léonard Humbrecht and Geneviève Zind.
The important work of Léonard began with the purchase of the best land in the region, between the 1960s and 1970s, which lived in a state of neglect because of their excessive slopes that made the working in complex. Once purchased, these lands were immediately cultivated with a yield of about 10,000 vines per hectare, an absolutely pioneering practice for the time, with a yield so low to fall below 25 quintals per hectare. Even in the cellar Léonard’s work brought changes, such as the adoption of a type of presses able to guarantee a more delicate extraction, and the creation of a system to control the temperature of fermentation for the large oak barrels, where the parameters often got out of hand. Nor should be forget how Léonard, as president of the Union for the defense of the Grands Crus d’Alsace, fought for a long time for the creation of the Grand Cru denomiation in Alsace.
In 1989 there was the changing of the guard and the Domaine passed into the hands of Léonard’s son, Olivier Humbrecht who, with his wife Margaret, gave birth to a second revolution inspired mainly by the natural approach, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Among the various novelties it is worth mentioning the choice of biodynamic agriculture, the abandon of fatm tractors, replaced by a lot of manual work in the vineyard, the refusal of any chemical addition (always in the vineyard) and the consequent refusal of the traditional but heavy cellar practices (addition of sugar, collagen, gum Arabic, etc.).
The Grand Cru Brand, whose wines were already known in the Middle Ages, is a plot of 2.4 hectares owned by Zind-Humbrecht near the city of Turckheim, characterized by a soil of granite and limy arena that force the vines to dig deep in search of nutrients, encouraging an excellent development. Here was born the Riesling Roche Granitique, a sort of second vin from vineyards about 36 years of age, considered too young to be able to enter the Grand Cru wine. This wine is made from the selection in the vineyard of the best grapes that are brought to the cellar where, after pressing, ferment very slowly, for about 18 months, in large not toasted oak barrels. A few more months of rest in the fermentation barrels and the wine, after being bottled, is ready for marketing.
The 2018 vintage has a brilliant straw yellow color, with an olfactory range that opens on notes of lime, wet rock, kumquat and hydrocarbon, followed by orange blossom honey, toasted hazelnut, candied citron and bergamot, with conclusive echoes of just turned off matchstick and graphite. The mouthfeel is mainly soft, but this does not detract from the clear perception of a good freshness, more balsamic than citric, together with the bitter-mineral note and the savory one; it all enriched by the retro-olfactory background of toasted hazelnut and citrus, with the latter persisting even after closing of good length
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