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A moving few days at VINEXPO

For us, Vinexpo 2009 will long remain a strong symbol of continuity, with some very moving moments and countless words of sympathy from our importers, colleagues, journalists or just friends of the family.
Following Jean Hugel's recent death, all our visitors were pleased to meet the two "youngsters" of the next - 13th - generation, Jean Frédéric and Marc André Hugel, both aged 20, who took a working break from their studies for a first step up the ladder of our family business.
We were happily almost swamped by visits from our importers - almost 70% of our international contacts attended Vinexpo - not to mention numerous journalists and friends, some bearing excellent news for the future. But we were above all touched by the immense wave of sympathy for our sad loss.
A special mention must be made about the Asian lunch on  Wednesday 24th June. Our friend the journalist Simon TAM flew in specially from Hong Kong, bringing the most delicious dim sum dumplings, deep frozen Xiao Long Bao, a Shanghai speciality impossible to find in Europe, accompanied by succulent fresh mangoes brought over by another friend, our importer for India Sanjay Menon, recently named by Decanter Magazine as one of the 50 most important people in the international wine world.
As usual, our days were fully occupied, but also our evenings, including a dinner at Château Mouton-Rothschild at Philippine's invitation, in the company of all the national presidents of the International Union of Sommeliers. There was also a less formal, relaxed, festive evening at Château Palmer, at the table of its director, our friend Thomas Duroux, with producer colleagues from all over France.
The final day was marked by a moment of emotion, when two great friends of "uncle Johnny" came to pay their respects : John Avery MW, with his daughter Mimi, and Liliane Barton, daughter of Anthony Barton, also accompanied by her daughter.
The world of wine is, without any shadow of a doubt, the warmest and friendliest networking system in existence  ;-)
It was an exceptional Vinexpo for us, from all points of view, despite family sadness and the miserable economic climate.
Please see our Vinexpo 2009 gallery for photo highlights


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A busy week in the UK


Hard to believe that the UK economy is in crisis (other than political) on a recent market visit which coincided with the EU elections and quite some turmoil amongst MP's and members of the cabinet. Sir Winston Churchill still firmly on his pedestall watching all this...

On the agenda, a couple of tastings for the Wine Society a long standing supporter of our wines and about to send their members an Alsace offer for a selection of wines from the outstanding 2007 vintage. A great occasion also to see our dearest Alsace colleagues at a now almost traditionnal closing Indian dinner, this time in Nottinham's finest Indian restaurant. Always worth the journey even 5500 miles from Delhi ;-) 

For the rest of this trip, brilliantly orchestrated by the enthusiastic Fells team that now overlook our UK interests, visits and wining and dinings included ever loyal friends such as London's Bleeding Heart for a dinner at thir crypt for 60 of Robyn and Robert's avid customers.

On a busy journey north, an eye opening visit to Oxford leading (and friendliest) wine merchant with a tasting combined with video interview at The Oxford Wine Company. The short video clips are now accessible from their homepage and on Youtube. Rushing then off to the historic market town of Ludlow which has become the aera's gastro capital. Absolutely outstanding wine dinner at La Becasse for some even happier guests after dinner came to a close... 

Back to London on a visit to Harrods with a staff tasting in anticipation to their promotion on Famous Wine Families. The tasting to take place on 18 June between 7 and 9 pm at their wine department will see Jean Frédéric, first member of our 13th generation presenting our wines abroad. When his dad was about 22 years old and before actually starting full time at Hugel I did my very first instore tasting at... Harrods. Jean Frédéric, now 20 is thrilled to follow daddy's footsteps, hoping that Harrods customers will be equally thrilled to hear this Wine Family story...

A final quick stop at the Ritz and off home with a lovely piece of stilton enjoyed by my loved ones over the weekend with a bottle of Graham's vintage Port from our Symington friends. Soooo British !  


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Jean Hugel (vintage 1924) has just passed away



Jean Hugel has just passed away and Alsace, which he loved and promoted so tirelessly all over the world during more than 60 years, feels a great void.


See his brief biography and recent photos of Jean, taken in 2003, 2005 and November 2008 and a photo album of his lifeIn February 2005 he gave a rare interview on a most secret part of his life: his wartime years. 


Born on September 28, 1924 in Riquewihr, the home town of his family since 1639, Jean Hugel ran the family wine business alongside his two brothers, Georges and Andre, from 1948 until 1997.


A very active retiree, Jean truly never left the business until illness overtook him. Jeanny, for all those who knew him well, worked all his life with great passion and determination for Alsace and its wines, particularly Late Harvest and Selection de Grains Nobles which will be his greatest legacy. He wrote the legislative text regulating the conditions of production of these wines which were OFFICIALLY recognized after 7 years of bitter struggle. It is the strictest law of all French wine appellations.


Jean transmitted to his nephews, Jean Philippe, Marc and Etienne, his know-how, his enthusiasm and his will to carry the banner of Alsace always higher. They will continue to work with this same determination that their uncle taught them: to always strive for perfection. He also leaves behind his dear Simone and their two daughters, Dominique and Judith and four grandchildren. 


Jean's memory will continue to shine in the skies of Alsace, and whenever we have the great joy of opening one of his wines, like his favourite Riesling Selection de Grains Nobles 1976, the last wine he tasted, it will remain a lasting symbol of a very full and meaningful life..


Those who knew him should feel free to leave their own testimony on this Blog. Thank you Jancis, Tom Stevenson, the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian and so many of you. Mission accomplished Johnny, you may now retire.

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