The 2017 vintage will go down in the history of this wine estate. For Olivier Humbrecht, it is one of the three best vintages since the foundation of the wine estate in 1959. However, this time frost and hail limited the yield to less than 20 hl/ha on average. After an early budbreak, two cold spells with sub-zero temperatures on April 21 and 22 exposed even those areas that were more sheltered to frost. An unusually freezing easterly wind froze vines in vineyards like the Herrenweg de Turckheim, which never froze to death in the 60 years Olivier's father has been involved. A hailstorm in the Brand vineyard fortunately remained without major consequences. Midsummer was hot, August milder, and the harvest started on August 29 with Pinot Gris Roche Roulée, followed by terroirs like Rotenberg, Heimbourg, Goldert ... A little rain on September 2 accelerated the ripening. The Rieslings were harvested from 11 September and the harvest finished with Rangen, Hengst and Clos Jebsal on 26 September. Only in Clos Jebsal were there minor signs of botrytis.
The Grand Cru du Rangen is located in the southern part of Alsace, but unlike the other sites in this region, it is a late terroir characterised by volcanic tuff and greywacke. The altitude of the vineyard - it ranges between 350 and 475 metres - the proximity to peaks such as the Grand Ballon and the intrusion of the Thannertal valley lead to draughts at the beginning of the season, which are often very cold. Bud break is late, the slope is exposed to the wind, and air circulation is also encouraged by the steep slope of the vineyard. This explains why Rangen was the only terroir that suffered almost no crop loss in 2017. Despite a high planting density, which can be found even in the oldest vines at 55 years old, the harvest remains mostly low. The volcanic soil, mixed with only a little clay on the surface, demands deep rooting that draws mineral elements from it, but also and above all finds a secure water supply.
The wine has 4.2 g/l residual sugar with 3.8 g acidity and a pH value of 3.15. Fermentation took place over a few months. The yield was 19 hl/ha.
intense golden yellow
The 2017 Grand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain opens with notes of gunpowder, smoke and stone. It still seems quite withdrawn and busy with its own development. It is just leaving the reductive stage and therefore needs some more time. At the Humbrechts, it won't open until 2022. With plenty of air, smoke and wet stone mingle with fruit that is also still cool but ripe and some spicy medicinal notes, almost as if there is some iodine involved.
At the palate, its size is to be guessed directly, even if the whole depth and strength still hangs behind a haze, so to speak. But much is already present and clear, the floral notes, for example, which one first catches on the palate. These blossoms seem freshly picked at first. Later, however, as the wine moves across the tongue, they seem more and more like an infusion, complemented by spice, salty stone, a bright fruit concentrate and an undoubted tannic structure. The acidity is present from the first moment, pulling the Riesling along with it. Now the pure power reveals itself, the seemingly boundless energy, this oscillation between heaven and earth, the deep rootedness in the volcanic rock and the striving towards heaven. This may sound religious, but that's how we feel about it. The wine is sublime, pure, floating, timeless and incredibly clear as well as transparent. This is already a great Riesling, but one with the greatest potential for the future.
Food recommendations by Christoph Raffelt
- Stuffed crispy pork belly, cooked in ginger and lemongrass, with Thai salad
- Crustacean terrine with crab and lobster bisque
- Veal sweetbread ragout with mushrooms and Riesling beurre blanc
Domaine Zind Humbrecht, 4 Route de Colmar, 68230 Turckheim / France, Organic certificate: FR-BIO-01