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09/12/2014

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Vintage 2014 live

Follow our 2014 vintage which starts on September 16. Live updates on the social networks, Facebook and Twitter. Short Videos will also be added on our Youtube channel as harvest proceeds and Picture sharing on Flickr
For our friends in Mainland China, Haotian Zhou, our Chinese intern, will be posting on our Weibo and Youku channels.

Want to share our excitement but also apprehension ? Check our 10 days weather forecast

09/26/2013

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Vintage 2013 at Hugel



Follow our 2013 vintage which starts on October 1st. Live updates on the social networks, Facebook and Twitter. Short Videos will also be added on our Youtube channel as harvest proceeds.

Want to share our excitement but also apprehension ? Check our 10 days weather forecast

10/11/2012

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2012 harvest scenery, gorgeous Video report

Filming organized by the CIVA, weather provided by God, the wines by Hugel, personal concierge service by Etienne and the beauty comes free ;-)

For similar experience, just bring the weather ;-)


09/19/2012

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Vintage 2012 at Hugel

Vendanges_2012_Harvest.jpg

Follow our vintage which started on September 24 on the social networks: Facebook and Twitter  and on our Youtube channel to witness the daily progress of our harvest. 
A low presure system affected Alsace on the first 3 days of harvest bringing some humidity.  The 10 day weather forecast remains idillic for the foreseeable future...

We recorded on September 19 - just 5 days before harvest start - a video posted on Youtube with a short presentation by members of 3 generations of the Hugel family: André, vintage 1929, Marc André, vintage 1989 and 12th generation Marc and Etienne. All looking happy at the prospect of another great vintage...

09/22/2011

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Vintage 2011 in Alsace, from good to glorious ?

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From the cool months of July we suspected that 2011 would be another Riesling vintage. The glorious weather 10 days into our vintage seems to confirm our early expectations.

The overall level of quality, from purchased grapes already brings the best hopes for our 2011 vintage.The levels of maturity are beyond our expectations with most plots well over 12,5° potential and probably the biggest surprise is how sound the vast majority of these grapes are ! 

Riesling is our latest ripening variety and it is commonly the best indicator of the overall quality of a vintage. The road seems to be paved for a very good 2011 in Alsace
.

The weather also seems to be on our side, the low presure system that went by on Sunday night brought just some insignificant rain.  The 10 day weather forecast remains idillic for the foreseable future...

On Tuesday, 20th September, visitors that came all the way from Tainan, Taiwan Claire and Tim LIU who picked their first grapes on their very first winery visit. They were first met, last February as reported on this Blog at a dinner at the Tayih Landis where Claire works.


,

09/17/2011

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Exciting start of our vintage 2011

Vendangeurs.jpgStarted on September 12, the first days of our 2011 harvest were as expected busy, sometime intense due to the size of the crop but rewarding. All grapes were of rather high maturity, some Pinot Blanc well over 12.5° and most  Pinot Gris between 13 and 14° potential. Pinot Noirs were healthy with darkly coloured thick skins. The best plots of our own estate still hanging on their vines with glorious weather and the hope of a 1990 or 2003 replica... due to come in on week two.

Tuesday, September 13 (brother Marc's birthday) was the first day for the Muscat varietals. As far as we are concerned, only about 5 acres are planted with this grape and we harvested as well our own young plot of Muscat (a mix of white and red Muscat d'Alsace à petits grains) located in the Schoenenbourg.

From Thursday on and for the rest of the week we started to bring in the first gewurztraminers purchased from vineyards located mainly in the region south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils. Large size crop but with ripenings mostly over 13° potential  

On the very first day of harvest, we received a couple of foreign visitors, Dan Muntean with his wife Roxana whose company Halewood imports our wines into... Romania

On the anecdote or off the record count, a veritable paparazzi for our former employee Charles Klack on his Vintage Porsche diesel as he was delivering his grapes. Charles is becoming the star on wheels of this vintage coverage and promisses us a complete renovation of his 1958 tractor for next year...

With days when the attention of many is turned towards the rugby world cup, we take the opportunity to introduce to you Sam Teakle.  Sam has worked at several top wineries in Australia and is staying with us for the duration of the harvest, an old tradition wich also give us a chance to keep in touch with the "New World" and to practice the language. As Sam works during the times when the games are played in New Zealand, each game is taped for him... here he is watching the All Blacks playing Japan in the bosses' office with Kronenbourg beer delivered cold and timely for the end of his work.

The same evening, a flower from Israël came to see us...  Yasmin caught in front of the winery with her family and saying "WOW HUGEL" as your servant was passing by to drive the next lorry into the courtyard. YES, it's me was the reply... all ended-up with a tour of the premisses and tasting joined by charmed staff.

A harvest with definite added pleasures... and a presidential visit

09/11/2011

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2011 Alsace vintage outlook at D-1


09/07/2011

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2011 vintage, review of the season

Vendangeurs.jpgFollowing a very cold winter, with 26 days constantly below freezing, normal budbreak around April 7 was followed by very rapid growth and some vineyards began to suffer from the drought.

Very early flowering, starting May 20, a good 3 weeks ahead of normal. June was very wet and cool and a month of July reminding us of 2007.

The last three weeks of August, heat waves with several nights above 20° C, then cooler and dry in early September.

Check the data from our weather station, with minimum and maximum temperatures and daily rainfall for July and August

Overall we expect a good harvest in volume particularly for Gewurztraminer following a very reduced 2010 crop. Grapes remain healthy, with levels of acidity that have significantly dropped with the heat wave of late August.

The 10 day weather forecast remains favourable, time now for the final preparations and berry samplings to monitor the evolutions of sugars and acids...

Our harvest will start on September 12 with big smiles on many faces and the now traditional reporting on this Blog and on Facebook 

10/14/2010

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Harvesting our best Rieslings in the Schoenenbourg


Hugel | RschbgF | 600x600 | Wine Media Library

To view the above pictures in full size, just click on the arrow on the bottom right of this presentation

10/13/2010

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Late Harvest on October 13, 2010


Hugel | 600x600 | Wine Media Library


To view the above pictures in full size, just click on the arrow on the bottom right of this presentation


The following day, we had the visit of the INAO inspector who came to verify the volumes and must weights, issuing the official certificat

10/10/2010

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2 weeks into our harvest, Video report

10/05/2010

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Beginning of week 2, and first Rieslings

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The first days devoted to the Riesling grape variety as far as purchased grapes are concerned, certainly brings the best hopes for our 2010 vintage.The levels of maturity are beyond our expectations with most lots well over 12,5° potential and probably the biggest surprise is how sound these grapes are !  This is our latest ripening variety and it is commonly the best indicator of the overall quality of a vintage. The road seems to be paved for a very good 2010 in Alsace.

The weather also seems to be on our side, the low presure system that went by on Monday night brought just some insignificant rain.  The 10 day weather forecast remains idillic for the foreseable future...

10/02/2010

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The vineyards, scene of the World Rally Championship

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The end of this first week is disturbed when it come to the harvest with the passage through the vineyard around us of the Rallye de France. This is the very first time that Alsace is the scene of a World Rally Championship. The local heroe Sebastien LOEB is well on his way to secure his 7th championship title. All of Alsace is along the roads to cheer but the access to the vineyard is seriously restricted in most villages.

Since Thursday and for the rest of the week we started to receive the first gewurztraminers purchased from vineyards located mainly in the region south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils. The degrees are excellent here again with an average over 13° and grapes that are mostly healthy. In our estate, a limited team of 15 pickers harvest some lesser gewurztraminers vineyards located in the lighter terroirs of Riquewihr.

09/30/2010

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2010 Vintage, first days results

Good news from the beginning of our harvest, the first grapes coming in are both looking good, with great levels of maturity and acidities.

On the agenda of this first day of Monday 27: the 3 varieties of the pinot family: Pinot Noirs, gris and blanc. We were somewhat worried to be receiving in the beginning some grapes of plots whose sanitary state could have been degraded. It is not the case at all.

Tuesday 28 is the first day when our wine growers under contract are invited to pick the Muscat varietals. As far as we are concerned, only about 5 acres are planted with this grape who where remarkably healthy allowing us to do some cold maceration: destemming  prior to a 12 hours skin contact. We take advantage of this day to harvest as well our own young plot of Muscat (a mix of white and red Muscat d'Alsace à petits grains) located in the Schoenenbourg.

Pinot Blancs, auxerrois come in at an average close to 12° and the first Pinot Gris between 13 and 14. We even receive some auxerrois lots at over 15° potential without a single rotten berry.

The weather forecast for the coming days remaining cool and overcast with chances of light rain we decide to bring in our very best plots of Pinot Noirs under still optimal conditions. The grapes were perfectly sound with average ripening degrees of 12,6°. A beautiful Jubilee in prospect...

From Thursday on and for the rest of the week we start to bring in the first gewurztraminers purchased from vineyards located mainly in the region south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils.

In our estate, a limited team of 15 pickers harvest some lesser Pinot Gris vineyards located in the lighter terroirs of Riquewihr with dergrees well over 14 ! Who said 2010 would be a difficult vintage ?

A quick video below to explain the way we work. Despite the large volumes we currently receive, we do not cut any corners: grapes are exclusively hand harvested, every single container is measured, identified and processed by gravity for a long slow pressing followed by a static settling of the must. Truly hand crafted wines, for your enjoyment...


10/10/2010

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Photos of our 2010 vintage


Hugel | 640x640 | Wine Media Library


To view the above pictures in full size, just click on the arrow on the bottom right of this presentation

09/27/2010

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2010 Vintage, starting today !

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The weather has played with our nerves over this last weekend with very heavy clouds over our heads, luckily without serious consequences.
Bright sunny day on this D day...

The 10 day weather forecast remains favourable at least for the coming week...

Follow us on this Blog for the live unfolding of our 2010 vintage with frequent updates including short videos.

This year, every evening, French time, you can follow LIVE the activity at the winery on a dedicated Ustream page and be kept informed by mini messages on our Twitter page.

This year again, Marc Hugel, in charge of the vineyards and vinification, tells us about the 2010 growing season and his expectations for this vintage.

We have had in Alsace in 2010 a particularly cool month of August without any intense heat as shown on this table from our own weather station. Yet, slow maturations usually mean in our area wines with great aromatic intensity and finesse...


Again this year, a website (in French) has been put in place by the CIVA dedicated to controls of maturities with a possibility of comparing the values of sugar contents and acidities with the previous years.

The harvest of our own estate begins with a reduced team for now. The first two weeks of harvest will be primarily devoted to the reception of grapes (harvested exclusively by hand) of our contract growers according to a planning which will enable us to manage in the best possible conditions our 2010 vintage.

We now start our daily report on this Blog, feel free to follow us and interact with comments and questions. 

09/24/2010

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2010 vintage, the expectations by Marc Hugel




Just 4 days from the start of our harvest at Hugel, Marc gives us his impressions and prospects on the vintage 2010 in Alsace

09/02/2010

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Hugel website update, moving full into a 2.0 harvest

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If all goes to plan, on 25 September next the Hugel web site will present its new face to the world, it was just decided at a working meeting in the offices of Vinternet. This specialist Wine Web Agency has accompanied us ever since our first steps on the web, way back in... 1996. Their expertise also helps us stay closely tuned to the trends of this constantly evolving universe.

Philippe Hugon with his young and competent team will make our site even more interactive, the Web 2.0 which everyone talks about, adapted not only to social networking but also to new tools like
Ipads and smartphones.

Live coverage of the 2010 harvest will be the first highlight on our new web site, so now all we need is for the weather to cooperate over the next few weeks...

08/26/2010

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370 years old and Web 2.0



Stay tuned, right on this blog during our harvest, further news as we get nearer the date... probably last days of September

10/14/2009

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A bright final straight for our 2009 harvest

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In a few days the winds have turned, coming now from the North, this brought crisp but bright weather for the end of our 2009 vintage. The coulours in the vineyards are now quickly turning into their automn livery.

As expected from the beginning, it is the Pinot family of grapes that scored the best results this year. On this Wednesday moring we harvest our last plot that had been left of this varietal in the Sporen. Only very little noble rot but mostly some passerillage (dessiccation by the shrivelling of the berries) which is more marked on the southern face of the bunches that on their northern face.

Interesting also to witness  that certain vines of Pinot Gris have naturally become mutant giving white grapes, often the whole vine but sometimes even half bunches where both colours are present on a same bunch.

The result will be a concentrated must of over 17° potential without the need of any selective picking confirming the outstanding potential of 2009 in Alsace. 

10/07/2009

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A small amount of a real nectar: some Riesling SGN



The ultimate target we had set ourselves for our 2009 vintage was to try to produce some Riesling Vendange Tardive. Mission accomplished as we even managed to sort a small amount of what should be a true nectar... some Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles which comes in close to the end of a very rewarding year. It was just controlled by the INAO at 26,4° potential.

Picking is now interrupted and will resume next Monday for just a few more days to go. Stay tuned...

10/05/2009

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Harvesting our first vineyard cultivated organically



Due to the weather uncertainty, we decide on this Monday of our 4th week of harvest to pick some of our Riesling plots in the GC Schoenenbourg.

Amongst those plots is our first vineyard cultivated organically. As with other vineyards the grapes are impeccably sound. It has now been over 8 weeks with practically no rain at all so we would not mind receiving in the next few days a little bit of moisture... There is hope according to the 10 day weather forecast

10/01/2009

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Plungeing the Pinot Noir down under...




With the potential of this year's estate Pinot Noirs, we need now to focus our efforts on the all important vinification phase. A few new barrels were bought for the occasion, from Damy in Meursault, one of the best cooper in Burgundy. In 2009 the wines have such concentration and depth that the wines will easily "digest" a fair percentage of new oak... Before that, there is still quite some physical work required to do the plungeings, twice a day.

We have the pleasure of introducing to you Nick and Conrad, our two interns from the Southern hemisphere, both coming all the way from New Zealand. They arrived in Riquewihr just on time to see (at last) a victory of the All Blacks in the tri nations and now tell us that the Kiwis are the new reference for Pinot Noirs ;-)

09/28/2009

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The big day has come for Pinot Noirs



With the outstanding weather conditions of the few last weeks, we had growing expectations for our 2009 estate Pinot Noir. On September 28 all our focus and attention is turned towards our finest Pinot Noir vineyards in the Pflostig slope. We have good confidence to be able to produce, like in 2003 and 1990 a single vineyard of Pinot Noir "Les Neveux". Amazing ripeness of over 14° potential with perfectly sound grapes. Bingo !

The prediction of Marc Hugel a few days before the start of harvest for this grape seems to be confirmed. 2009 will be a great Pinot year !

Big smile of the face of Marc when the time comes to destem and vat these glorious Pinots.

On this September 28 we all have deep memories for uncle Johnny, who would have turned 80 on this day.

09/27/2009

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End of the second harvest week with a "family" visit

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This second week of harvest is coming to a close with glorious weather, dry and sunny with record levels of maturity. Gewurztraminers well over 14° potential and some Rieslings as we had not seen for many years now. Big smiles on many faces, including ours...

Taking advantage of the glorious weather, Riquewihr is litterally invaded by tourists. We receive that afternoon a group of visitors from Bremen, the hanseatic town where most of the historic german wine importers have been located, including our longtime customer Segnitz. Amongst them, many are already well accustomed with our wines under the local guidance of Christine and Pierre Hugel. During our harvest, we do our best to "filter" cellar visits the best we can as all of our focus must remain with the pressure of harvest work. Pierre Hugel, even if not related to our family has obviously found his keys to our cellars... Pierre, by his name but also by his passion for wines, shared by his wife is the président du directoire of WÜRTH France whose museum in Erstein is one of the most important corporate collection of modern art. We could not resist taking a picture of both Pierre Hugel which will be the first time my nephew, son of my brother Marc will appear on this Blog. His sister Margot will find her own trick to convince her uncle blogger to feature her...

After a last extensive working day, time has come to part ways with my team of unloading and pressing as supplies from contract growers comes to an end. Some of them will go back to their regular work, some will join our growing team of 50 in our own estate under the guidance of Jean Claude Ortlieb.

09/26/2009

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Delivering grapes with a Porsche, vintage 1958 and diesel !

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Those of you familiar with our vintage Blog will have recognised Charles Klack, former employee who used to run our labelling room and who is now retired since 2007. Having given up making his own wines, he now delivers us the grapes from his small vineyards. His Porsche, Vintage 1958 is a rare model of the famous brand, with a... Diesel, engine. We won't disclose the horse power of its engine in order not to hurt the image of the luxury sport brand...  But what a torque, just like a tractor  ;-)

We have suggested to Charles to buy some polish for the next deliveries ;-) Let's see what will happen...

09/24/2009

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Filming during the vintage, just say YES to Debra !


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Imagine saying no to such a request... on one of the busiest day of harvest ?

Vintage time must understandably act as a magnet for wine lovers, not to mention the media so when such a TV feature opportunity presented itself over the phone just days before, the overwhelming charm, enthusiasm and passion of Debra Meiburg M.W. gave us no chance at all. Accompanied by Ed Bean and crue with such an impressive track record as seen on his company's website there needed little further convincing.

Hours of taping, in the vineyards, cellars, tasting room, but also in the hidden courtyards of Riquewihr should produce a film where the charm of Debra will convince anybody pressing the clicker to follow her series on wine. A whole 30' on Alsace in the first round of episodes and in great company, not a bad day of harvest at all, the sun and the stars were definitely above us in Riquewihr !

At the end their whole crew even did the acting for this photo




09/22/2009

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First day of Rieslings and first harvest together of the youngsters

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Starting this second week of our 2009 harvest, comes the first Rieslings with excellent levels of maturity, almost all lots reaching 11,5° potential and some of the best even above 13° which, for this late ripening veriety is simply remarquable. Grapes remain abolutely healthy as for the rest of the varietals.

Another memorable event of the day is the first harvest together of  both cousins, Marc André and Jean Frédéric Hugel, both aged 20 who are still at present in their university studies. A blessing for us to have an early vintage, and good for their own budget ;-)

There is no shortcut in their training to become one day fully part of our family company. Just like their predecessors, they have to start from the very basic jobs, and there are plenty of them during a vintage. Today, they take part in maturity checks which on this busy day meant over 1000 measurements. A good opportunity also for both  to participate in the destemming of Pinot Noirs which again reached over 13° potential, and yet our best estate Pinots are still hanging on their vines.

This precious help of our youngsters reminds me that in the course of this single harvest, your Blogger has moved up the ladder of responsablities from Hugel junior to Hugel senior. That's life... The cruel absence of uncle Johnny gave me almost naturally the responsability to look after, most of the morning of a Hong Kong TV crue. They flew all the way, a cast of over a dozen to Alsace for a series on French wines in an important market for us. The program should be broadcasted around Christmas on the main Chinese network.

A wet front had been forecasted last Sunday but after some dark clouds over us most of the weekend, it will be less than 10mm of rain in total and the 10 day weather forecast remains absolutely ideal . This 2009 is indeed taking a very good course...

09/17/2009

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At Hugel all picking is done by hand and always will be !



Our region is a veritable mozaïc of soils types which greatly explains the diversity of varietals planted. As maturities greatly depends on the terroirs where the different grapes are grown, we provide to all our contract growers a planning which guides them and enables us to manage in the best possible way times for each veriety to be harvested.

This Thursday is the first day of picking of gewurztraminers purchased from vineyards located mainly in the region south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils.

There was some light rains in the early part of the day so many vintners decided not to pick at all. A quiet day for us all before 2 very full days expected until the weekend.

The 10 day weather forecast remains favourable with even some ideal conditions for the developement of noble rot. The expected light rain should not have any effect as it follows 6 weeks of complete drought. The soil can still absorb a lot of moisture before any humidity gets to the roots.

Next Monday will be the beginning for Riesling the later ripening varietal of all and the most demanding.

09/16/2009

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Unloading and pressing as if you were here with us...


At this start of our harvest it is primarily the reception of purchased grapes that keep us busy. Of course all of our harvest is done by hand and always will be, even for our simplest wines because nothing replaces the skin of the grape to protect the juice from oxidation especially in the case of this very ripe vintage with corresponding moderate levels of aciditiy.

It is nearly 1000 daily measurements of the muturity which we carry out using a refractometer in order to precisely evaluate the quality of each batch. Then all is processed by gravity in order to respect the quality of the grapes, no pumping and no de-stemming thanks to our ability to work on 3 levels using our two elevators generating a significant amount of sweat ; -) Then 12 hours a static settling in stainless steel tanks follows before the fermentation itself.

We currently harvest in our estate, with a still reduced team, small plots of Pinot Gris located in the periphery of our best terroirs of Riquewihr.

For the Muscat, no skin contact this year, acidities being considered to be too low as this technique tends to cause a drop in acidity levels. The grapes however show intense aromas giving us good hope for a beautiful Muscat 2009 of which certain fruits come from now on from our own vineyards, some of them in the Schoenenbourg.

09/15/2009

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An intense and exciting start

Day one of our 2009 harvest was as expected busy, sometime intense but rewarding. All grapes were of very high maturity, some Pinot Blanc well over 12.5° and most Pinot Gris well above 13.5° potential. Yet, most exciting are the Pinot Noirs with darkly coloured thick skins and without a single rotten berry. This was just the first round for this grape, the best plots of our own estate are still hanging on their vines with the hope of a 1990 or 2003 replica as expressed by Marc Hugel

On this first day, we received a couple of foreign visitors, Canadian journalists Stéphane Hébert and Suzan Yum and later in the afternoon Japanese sommelier  Koaru Matsuyoshi from the Tokyo Mandarin Oriental Hotel with friend Emi Igarashi. They all had a chance to get the first flavours of our harvest joining our team of pickers for a few moments.

Another exciting news came later in the night, the Washington Post made a very kind mention of our Vintage Blog to their  TastePost subscribers. Thank you Candy, you are a real sweetheart !

09/10/2009

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The first vintage of our 13th generation

Marc André and his cousin Jean Frédéric Hugel, our two youngsters of the
13th generation, both born in 1989, the year of our 350th anniversary
tell us
about their expectation for their first vintage in their family company

09/09/2009

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2009 vintage outlook by Marc Hugel

Just a few days away from the start of our 2009 harvest, Marc Hugel tells us
about his hopes for what looks to be a truly memorable vintage.

09/14/2009

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Our 2009 vintage starts on September 14

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The last low pressure system that went through Alsace on September 3 & 4 only generated 15 mm of rain. We have now great expectations for a 3rd great vintage in a row.
Follow us on this Blog for the live unfolding of our 2009 vintage with frequent updates including short videos.

This year, Marc Hugel, in charge of the vineyards and vinification, tells us about the 2009 growing season and his expectations for this vintage. Particularly favoured this year is the family of Pinots, with great hopes for the Pinot Noir vineyard of the nephews (Les Neveux). Marc takes us to this vineyard plot, planted in 1966 and tells us about all the special care that is devoted to our very best Pinot Noir vineyard.

The 2009 harvest will be the first vintage without the presence of our dear and very much missed uncle Johnny. A strong symbol of continuity, this year will also see the first participation of the 13th generation. Cousins Marc André and Jean Frédéric tell us about their expectation for their first vintage in the family company.

The 10 day weather forecast remains favourable with even some ideal conditions for the developement of noble rot. We have now the ultimate objective to produce for the first time since 2001 some Riesling Vendange Tardive, the most demanding variety for late harvest wines. 

At last we have had in Alsace in 2009 a true dry and warm month of August with lately some intense heat favouring a rapid increase in sugar contents and corresponding drops in acidity levels as shown on this table from our own weather station.

Certain producers of Crémant (sparkling wine) could even begin their harvest on August 31. Since the beginning of August the weather has remained ideal, without much rain, bright skies and warm temperatures. They now need for Crémant to pick in a rush as sugar levels are rapidly increasing.

Innovation this year with a website (in French) that has been put in place by the CIVA dedicated to controls of maturities with a possibility of comparing the values of sugar contents and acidities with the previous years.

The harvest of our own estate begins with a reduced team for now. The first two weeks of harvest will be primarily devoted to the reception of grapes (harvested exclusively by hand) of our contract growers according to a planning which will enable us to manage in the best possible conditions a vintage which is expected to be fair in quantity.

We now start our daily report on this Blog. This year you can also follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

11/06/2008

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Some SGN as cherries on the 2008 vintage cake !

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The production or not of Vendange Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles is always for us an excellent indicator of the overall quality of a vintage. 2008 in Alsace looks to be truly outstanding. 

In the Grand Cru Sporen, we were able to harvest at the necessary level for Vendange Tardive (Late Harvest) denominations some Gewurztraminer at over 17° potential alcohol. It is worth noting that the previous week we had already done a selective picking of berries affected by noble rot in the same plots with our full team of close to 50 pickers. The result: potentially close to 2000 bottles of Gewurztraminer SGN at an amazing concentration controlled by the INAO at 26,5° potential alcohol.

Already on October 15 we were able to select some SGN Pinot Gris measured by the INAO inspector at 22° potential alcohol. The corresponding certificate was issued by the inspector of the INAO.

Witness of the ideal conditions in these critical days of harvest was author, food, wine and travel writer Sue Style and husband Monty on a romantic birthday celebration visit to Riquewihr. "October was wonderful here in Alsace with colours to rival New England's, both in the forests and in the vineyards. One of the highlights was a vineyard visit to celebrate my husband's Big Bus-Pass Birthday" 
Sue Style compiles the sections on Alsace for Wine Travel Guides

 

10/15/2008

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2008, harvesting in shorts...

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Photograph of a picker in the Sporen on October 14, 2008

If in August one could easily wear warm cloth in Alsace, nothing like this in this period of harvest where the weather could not be more favorable, remaining dry and sunny.

At this beginning of our third week of harvest, we boosted our reduced team of the beginning and we are now close to 50 people in the vineyards. The results are excellent, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris exceeds 14° of potential alcohol. We have therefore good hopes to be able to carry out a late harvest in the coming days…

Moreover the noble rot seems to want to develop as shown on this photograph of Pinot Gris which mutated in white to ressemble the Sauternes sémillon variety Wink

10/08/2008

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High hopes for a great Riesling vintage

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 Panoramic view of Riquewihr on 8 October 2008

The vineyards are right right now changing their dress colour taking on superb mustard and copper notes, sign that the vegetative cycle is coming to an end.

Having now received the first Riesling grapes for 3 days we are more and more convinced that it will be the most successful varietal of 2008. As in 2007 the cool temperatures of these last weeks explains this success, Riesling continuing its maturation under temperatures lower than other varietals. Average ripening measured for Riesling after 3 days shows over 11,5° potential alcohol for purchased fruits, this is even higher at this point of the harvest than the results of 2007.

On the weather front, the 10 day weather forecast also gives us reason of optimism. What else could we ask for ?

10/03/2008

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A good soft start of our 2008 vintage

Good news from the beginning of our harvest, the first grapes coming in are both healthy and of a good level of maturity.

On the agenda of this first day of Monday 29: the 3 varieties of the pinot family: Pinot Noirs, gris and blanc. We were somewhat worried to be receiving in the beginning some grapes of plots whose sanitary state could have been degraded. It is not the case at all, grapes are healthy with good degrees and also good levels of acidity.

The weather plays a little with our nerves in the middle of this first week but it will only be light scattered showers without consequences. We have just updated the daily records of the temperatures and rainfalls of our own weather station until end of September. All looks well on this front.

Tuesday 30 is the first day when our wine growers under contract are invited to pick the Muscat varietals. As far as we are concerned, only about 5 acres are planted with this grape whose production was uneven this year. You may want to view the short video of last year's destemming of this varietal just prior to a 12 hours skin contact. We take advantage of this day to harvest as well our own young plot of Muscat (a mix of white and red Muscat d'Alsace à petits grains) located in the Schoenenbourg.

Pinot Blancs, auxerrois come in at an average close to 12° and the first Pinot Gris around 13. We even receive from a Riquewihr supplier some auxerrois lots at over 15° potential without a single rotten berry.

The weather forecast for the coming days remaining cool and overcast with chances of light rain we decide to bring in our very best plots of Pinot Noirs under still optimal conditions. The grapes were perfectly sound with average ripening degrees of 13,1°. A beautiful Jubilee in prospect...

From Thursday on and for the rest of the week we start to bring in the first gewurztraminers purchased from vineyards located mainly in the region south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils. The degrees are excellent here again with an average close to 13° and the grapes are mostly healthy. In our estate, a limited team of 15 pickers harvest some lesser Pinot Gris vineyards located in the lighter terroirs of Riquewihr.

A last word to introduce to you my team in charge of unloading and pressing. End of this week, and early next week we will not be coming home much before sunrise Wink

09/25/2008

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Our 2008 vintage starts on September 29

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Our harvest starts on Monday 29 September with a 10 day weather forecast that is extremely encouraging.

There is really in Alsace the feeling to have been very lucky by avoiding the heavy rains which may have affected other areas. Since September 14 the weather is ideal, without any drop of rain, bright skies and cool temperatures. Just about the opposite of the disastrous conditions of 2006.

In spite of relatively low temperatures, maturations progressed very well, a new proof that our grape varieties are well adapted to our climate.

You can consult the figures of our own controls of maturities with the last carried out in certain plots of our estate on September 24. The evolution is very positive and shows the potential for excellent results for the actual harvest itself which may only in certain cases take place in about 4 weeks.

In spite of a summer again particularly gloomy, this 2008 harvest is looking well thanks to a weather which largely saved Alsace. We let to you consult the daily records of the temperatures and the rainfalls of our own weather station of this September.

The harvest of our own estate will only begin with a reduced team for now. The first two weeks of harvest will be primarily devoted to the reception of grapes (harvested exclusively by hand) of our contract growers according to a planning which will enable us to manage in the best possible conditions a vintage which is expected to be fair in quantity.

Listen to the interview of Johnny Hugel who gives us his feeling on the year 2008, his 60th vintage.

09/24/2008

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Interview of Johnny Hugel on his 60th vintage

Uncle Johnny remains a most valuable source of advice with his 60 vintages' long experience


10/15/2007

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Grand finale for a great 2007 vintage

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This 2007 vintage in Alsace will bring many surprises, and good ones !

After a harvest which already started over 5 weeks ago, we finally reach a very happy end with the picking early this week of our best plots in the Schoenenbourg and the Sporen slopes.

In the Schoenenbourg we harvest our very best vineyards planted with Riesling with an average ripening of 13.8° potential

In the Sporen, we are bringing in all remaining plots at the level necessary for Vendange Tardive (Late Harvest) denominations with 17.8° potential. It is worth noting that last week we had already done a selective picking of berries affected by noble rot in the same plots. The corresponding certificate was isued by the inspector of the INAO.

The production or not of VT or SGN is always for us an excellent indicator of the quality of the year.

We invite you to consult the daily figures from our own weather station. The tables show the daily temperature and humidity levels during the whole 5 weeks of picking. Long, cool and dry growing conditions is what makes Alsace unique. With those exceptionnal figures you should have a clearer explanation of our belief that we have just witnessed the birth of a great vintage.

Feel free to consult the final measurements table of the plots we have now finished harvesting. The natural sugar contents have increased rapidly in the last few days due to the development of noble rot.

10/08/2007

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Final straight with Indian summer

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This is now the final straight of our 2007 harvest with a weather that remains just ideal, fog in the morning and sun in the afternoon. Just what Doctor botrytis ordered Cool

Feel free to consult the measurements table of the plots we have just harvested. This table is being progressively updated as our harvest proceeds, with the final figures and the dates of harvest for each individual plot.

 

10/03/2007

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It now gets serious for Rieslings


Excellent weather in the last few days, bright and dry. We have at last decided to start bringing in the first Riesling from our domaine. Yet, the 10 day weather forecast is mixed for the later part of the week with some possible light rain. 

We let you discover the above short video clip about our 350th anniversary vineyard.

We start harvesting some Riesling vineyards surrounding the best part of the Schoenenbourg. Certain bunches in the oldest vines of the Schoenenbourg are showing some interesting signs of development of noble rot.

We leave you to discover the measurements table of the plots where we had carried out tests earlier on. This table is being progressively updated as our harvest proceeds, with the final figures and the dates of harvest for each individual plot.

10/01/2007

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Our trainees from Australia


With days when the attention of many is turned towards the rugby world cup, we take the opportunity to introduce to you Krys Smith and Luke McRae.  They are both staying with us for the duration of the harvest, an old tradition wich also give us a chance to keep in touch with the "New World" and to practice the language.

09/27/2007

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First VT & SGN in Pinot Gris

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Another proof of the quality and the early nature of the 2007 vintage in Alsace ? 
We have just picked a small amount of Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles in Pinot Gris.

We wanted to keep the news confidential for a few days before releasing the information. On September 20 we picked these nectars that were controlled by the INAO as per the legal procedure in place since 1983. The certificate was issued by the inspector the following day.

You will note on the picture the progression and the duration of the extraction which was noted on the settling vat. At the beginning of pressing towards 15.30 the must ran with 18° potential, towards 23.00 it reached over 30°. This proves that we are in the presence of excellent botrytis where the strongest concentrations are reached at the end of the pressing with the highest pressures.

09/25/2007

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Picking around our best Gewurztraminer

 

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A very unusual rythm this year where we still hesitate to attack our best plots of  Gewurztraminer and Riesling of our domaine. The forecast for the weather was supposed to be overcast and rainy on Monday and Tuesday, but we did not get a drop of rain and the skies have remained clear and blue.

We are harvesting our Gewurztraminer vineyards surrounding the best part of the Sporen. Certain bunches in the oldest vines of the Sporen are showing some interesting signs of the development of noble rot. Nothing new on the Riesling front, this variety continues its slow ripening. More to follow...

We leave you to discover the measurements table of the plots where we had carried out tests earlier on. This table is being progressively updated as our harvest proceeds, with the final figures and the dates of harvest for each individual plot.

09/21/2007

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Second and last round of Muscats

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           André Hugel (vintage 1929) cannot resist biting into such gorgeous muscat grapes

One always says that drinking a good glass of Muscat gives the impression of biting into a Muscat grape. This is exactly what a group of top Moscow clients group has been able to witness today in the company of our Russian importer MBG. They were able to taste in just a few hours the Muscat fruit as it was being picked in the Schoenenbourg and then taste the same variety in bottle during the tasting.

Just like a week ago, the grapes were perfectly healthy enabling us to destem he grapes for a 12 hours skin contact. You can view once more the video of the desteming.

09/20/2007

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Half way report, vintage 2007

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With the return of a beautiful dry weather, sunny but fresh on Wednesday September 19, our suppliers under contract go back and harvest at a fast pace. By the end of the week most of the purchased grapes will be in.

In our domaine, only a little more than 6 hectares (15 acres) were harvested to date, mainly Pinot Noirs and Gris. We leave you to discover the measurements table of the plots where we had carried out tests earlier on. This table will be progressively updated as our harvest advances with the final figures and the dates of harvest for each individual plot.

Our main task now is to manage with equal success the harvest of Gewurztraminers and Rieslings fron the remaining 20 hectares (50 acres) of our domaine. No reason to panic the 10 day weather forecast remains favorable, the grapes remarkably sound and we are only on September 20...

 

09/18/2007

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Harvesting our best domaine Pinot Noir


First days devoted to the Riesling grape variety as far as purchased grapes are concerned. From Monday on we decide to bring in without any further delay all of our Pinot Noirs from our domaine. We have increased the size of our picking team to about 30 allowing us to harvest all of our best Pinot Noir plots at once.

The weather forecast did announce from Tuesday on a wet front for a couple of days. This won't be too much of a problem for the white grapes but the reds need to be picked absolutely sound as they are. The 10 day weather forecast remains favourable after that brief episode.

It is more than one full hectare of our very best Pinot Noirs that have been secured in optimal conditions, perfectly healthy grapes with average ripeness of 13,4°. A great Jubilee Pinot Noir can therefore be expected in 2007.

09/15/2007

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The end of a week full of aromas


Video sequence of the desteming of muscat grapes for a 12 hours skin contact

From Thursday on until the end of the week the aromatic grape varieties will have our full attention. We start receiving the first lots of gewurztraminers both from our contract growers located mainly for this grape south of Colmar in clay and limestone soils. The ripening levels are excellent with an average close to 13° and perfectly sound grapes. In our domaine too we bring in with a reduced team small plots the periphery of our best terroirs of Riquewihr.

Friday is the day when our growers under contract are invited to harvest the Muscat verietal. As far as we are concerned, only about 2 hectares are planted with this grape whose production can be capricious. Because of the limited quantities and particular winemaking for muscat we must receive all of the production over 2 days at the beginning of the harvest.

We also harvest for the first time since 1978 a plot of muscat from our own domaine. Because of its youth, this vineyard will not be vinified separately. Certainly in a few years, with the production of another plot of muscat (variety of muscat d'Alsace a petits grains, both white and red) located in the Schoenenbourg we will be making a special cuvee of this grape.

We proceed, this year again, thanks to perfectly healthy grapes to a 12 hours of skin contact for muscat. The purpose of this process is to exacerbate the primary flavours of this varietal. After 12 hours of maceration the juice is released by a gentle pressing. Our mechanist Marc Kauffmann is proud to have taken part in the design of an elevator which lifts and tips in only one operation the grape containers weighing from 120 to 150 kg. This operation must be renewed 1200 times per day at the peak of the harvest.

09/13/2007

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Record visitors on our Blog

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A somewhat quieter Wednesday enables us to take a moment to thank all the visitors of these pages as well as the many testimonys of encouragements which we have received in the last few days. The very kind comments by Jancis Robinson on her own website is a fantastic encouragement to provide you with even more quality information.
Our full focus remains with the vintage with "both hands in the grapes" and we can reassure you that the updating of this Blog is often done late in the evening just after the last press has been filled.
Since the opening of these pages about our 2007 vintage, the consultations of our site almost doubled as proved by our last statistics. You are currently more than 300 visitors daily.
We cannot tell you how exciting it is to share with you the unfolding of a new vintage. Every day will see more and more signs that it may well be a rather good one. May the good fortune stay with us. Stay with us, more to follow !

09/12/2007

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Double-decker for grapes ?

Just like every year we wonder how we can get all those grapes into the heart of one of Frances' most touristic village. The logistic side of our harvest requires some constant attention by all family members. Just a few yards away from the effervescence of our courtyard there is a constant flow of tourists walking up and down the main street of Riquewihr. The harvest does not have the same flavour for all...

09/11/2007

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Vintage 2007 : off to a good start !

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There has not been much time this year to train the temporary staff who come to help us out at harvest time. For the grape picking alone, our comany's workforce triples in size for a period of 3 to 4 weeks.

Trucks of grapes purchased from our contract growers continue to arrive at a steady rate, creating some traffic jams in the centre of Riquewihr. The last truck of the first day was not unloaded until about 2:00am and the final press was filled around 3:30 this morning..

The day's picking concerned the 3 Pinot varietals : Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Although we have received some grapes from a handful of vineyards that had to be picked early to prevent deterioration, in general the sanitary state of the crop is exemplary with good ripeness levels.

On this first day we have brought in just over half of our purchased Pinot Noirs at potential alcohol levels mainly between 11.5 and 12.5. We have seen better results in the past... but also far worse !

On our family estate, a small team is harvesting a few isolated parcels that were on the fringe of the terrible hail storm of 20 June.

We again invite you to consult the daily figures from our own weather station. The comparison between the daily temperature and humidity levels during the months of May and August are quite interesting. These figures show that we have witnessed a very unusual growing season in 2007. Both temperature and humidity levels were more favourable in May than in August. In August 2003 we had several days above 40° C, while there was not a single day above 30 in 2007 !

09/09/2007

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Interview of Johnny Hugel

Uncle Johnny remains a most valuable source of advice with his 59 vintages' long experience

You can consult the figures of our own maturity controls with the last measurements carried out in certain plots of our estate vineyards on September 5. The evolution is very positive and shows the potential of some excellent results for the harvest itself which will in certain plots only take place in about 4 weeks.

09/05/2007

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Our 2007 vintage starts on September 10

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Our still wine harvest starts on Monday 10 September with a 10 day weather forecast that is extremely encouraging.

The summer was very unseasonable, and will long be remembered by those of us who were on holiday in France in July or August !

Too quickly forgotten, however, was the superb spring weather we enjoyed here in north-east France, followed by a warm and sunny June. This led to speculations (or rather, fears) that the harvest would begin around 20 August, but most of the spring advance was cancelled out by the summer.

You can consult the figures of our own maturity controls with the last measurements carried out in certain plots of our estate vineyards on September 5. The evolution is very positive and shows the potential of some excellent results for the harvest itself which will in certain cases only take place in about 4 weeks.

Despite a particularly miserable summer, our 2007 vintage will be almost the earliest of the past 100 years, beaten only by 2003 which began 2 days before, on 8 September. 

5 September has been decreed as the official starting date of the 2007 Alsace still wine harvest, as everyone remembers how fast the sanitary state of the vineyards deteriorated in 2006, causing many winegrowers to subsequently criticize the authorities for delaying the start of the vintage for too long.

There is no comparison in 2007. With a few rare exceptions, the vineyards are in perfect condition, the weather for the past 10 days has been dry and temperatures cool, with the thermometer reading just 5°C this morning. Healthy grapes and cool temperatures to ensure a slow finish to ripening, what more could an Alsace winegrower wish for ? 

We invite you to consult the daily figures from our own weather station. The comparison between the daily temperature and humidity levels during the months of May and August are quite interesting. These figures show that we have witnessed a very unusual growing season in 2007. Both temperature and humidity levels were more favourable in May than in August. In August 2003 we had several days above 40° C, while there was not a single day above 30 in 2007 !

10/19/2006

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Our 2006 vintage is over !

The last few bunches of grapes were picked today. Happy ending !

You can read our full vintage report here

 


10/18/2006

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The end of our harvest is getting close... under the sun !

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Just two days away from the end of our 2006 harvest and the weather remains on our side.

We are picking today our last two plots of Pinot Gris that have remained remarkably sound to this day. One is located up the road from the main street of Riquewihr and the other in the continuation of grand cru  Schoenenbourg (in a "climat" called Kronenbourg).

The results are once again excellent with respectively 16,4° and 17,3° potential alcohol, right on target as a candidate for Vendange Tardive.

More "The end of our harvest is getting close... under the sun !" »

10/17/2006

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Riesling SGN controlled by the INAO at over 20°

INAO inspection


We picked on Monday the few last Riesling plots we had saved in the grand cru Schoenenbourg. The results were beyond our expectations. All 3 plots reached SGN levels with a lot of 19 HL (the equivalent of over 2500 bottles) controlled by the INAO inspector at over 20° potential alcohol.

Part of the controll procedure is that once the inspector has measured the potential alcohol on the grapes as pictured here, he returns next morning to issue the certificate. 

A Riesling SGN at over 20° potential is after all a very good achievement in any vintage !

10/16/2006

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Johnny Hugel on the 2006 vintage

Johnny Hugel tells us about his 58th vintage. 2006 turns out to be one where patience has been rewarded.
"Nothing ever happens as well as one wishes but neither as bad as one fears"

10/10/2006

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Fantastic rieslings from the Schoenenbourg

Riesling bortytisJust a week ago nobody would have believed (including ourselves) what we are witnessing today !

There is certainly one grape variety that we didn't expect to shine in such atypical weather conditions: riesling.  This varietal suffered more than any other of the climatic conditions since mid-September.

The grapes that we have brought in in the last few days is the proof of the perfect match between the riesling grape and the great terroir of the Schoenenbourg.

Photo of October 9 in the Schoenenbourg


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