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Les Grands Crus d'Alsace: a book by Serge Dubs

Book Serge DubsWe are pleased to announce the recent publication of a book that is particularly important for the Alsace wine region, written by our friend Serge Dubs, in association with the journalist Denis Ritzenthaler.

After almost three years of serious research, Serge has successfully achieved his goal, the first in-depth handbook of the Grand Cru wines of Alsace. Without indulgence, it displays all the characteristic rigour, integrity and passion of one of the greatest connoisseurs and… supporters of Alsace wines. This work of reference will make its mark on our region and some of its comments will undoubtedly revive the dormant debate about Grand Cru wines, for example the following paragraph :

The house of Hugel in Riquewihr is certainly one of the most representative of Alsace negociants. It owns a large part of the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg and Sporen slopes. Renowned for its high quality wines, the house of Hugel has always advocated the best terroir. Its skill is exemplary and its quality image is renowned worldwide. Paradoxically, the « Hugels » do not sell their Grand Cru wines with the appellation AOC Alsace Grand Cru. Yet their Rieslings are among the finest grown on the Schoenenbourg. The house of Hugel has chosen a policy of promoting its brand because it believes the reputation of the name « Hugel » is superior to that of Grand Cru. This is their way of controlling the quality of the wines from its Grand Cru vineyards. Thus exceptional wines can be found under the simple appellation of AOC Alsace.

To learn more on the subject, discover our interactive "Hugel Earth" vineyard map

Although in the book the Schoenenbourg is logically classified as one of the finest vineyards in Alsace (all our top Rieslings are grown on this slope), unfortunately the same can not be said of the Sporen which goes under the heading " could do better " . We would like to take the opportunity to state our position which has sometimes been judged to be ambiguous and frequently totally misunderstood.

Our family has deep-rooted emotional links with the Sporen, going back numerous generations. What better proof could there be than the very moving ceremony that took place in the summer of 1999. The closest members of our family gathered at the heart of the Sporen to scatter the combined ashes of Jean and Lina Hugel – parents and grandparents of the current generations – according to their last wishes.

Until the 1970s, in the cadastral register of vineyards, the Sporen had a total surface area of 4,84 ha. Today its area is 23,70 ha.

Our position is more ethical than commercial. In all decency we can not support the system that has been put into place, at least as far as certain vineyards are concerned, with such manifest lack of ambition. We have however followed with great interest recent steps to correct the originally very lax conditions of production. On the other hand, knowing from experience how difficult it is to implement change, it is unlikely that the actual size of the vineyard will ever be called into question.
To finish with a quotation from Serge Dubs’ book :

The brand image of Grand Cru wines

"This remains entirely in the hands of the producers who are responsible for ensuring coherent overall conditions of production. It is up to each producer to offer only wines of very high quality in order to give Grand Cru wines an exemplary image. On the other hand, one single producer’s negligence can damage the reputation of all the others. A producer can turn to the simple AOC Alsace appellation either to implement a brand policy or not to be restricted by certain aspects of Grand Cru legislation. When both soil and climate spontaneously give good wine, human nature always seeking an easy life may not necessarily make every effort to obtain the utmost from the terroir, and may not take enough care of the overall quality of production. As soon as the quality of Grand Cru wines has been universally recognised, all producers will want to emphasise Grand Cru names, and so brand names will become less important."

To learn more on the subject, discover our interactive "Hugel Earth" vineyard map

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