After drinking a painfully young 2001 Clos St. Hune at Momofuku Ssam two weeks ago, a small group of us decided that we needed to revisit the Clos St Hune range with some bottle age. Justin, my friend who has long worked in wine auctions, sourced the wine although I've purchased both the 1999 and 2001 recently.
There were 7 participants and Justin was the only male, an unusual female to male ratio for a tasting of this caliber. Typically when I attend high end tastings the ratio is heavily weighted to 4o+ year old heavy set men! The participants included Suzanne, the hostess and a wine lover that I met at a Vega Sicilia vertical; Tanya, a somm at Corton; Christy, who owns Frankly Wines; Dilek, who owns Tasting World; Mollie, wine director at Maslow 6; Justin, who imports Rimarts Cava and is at Barterhouse; and of course, moi. (Sorry for the shameless plug for the aforementioned!)
Mollie made an excellent bratwurst and sauerkraut dish and Suzanne made a divine Tartiflette. Our food and wine pairings were outstanding! The fat and richness from the dishes paired well with the bright acidity.
Many regard Clos Ste Hune as the finest wine in Alsace, if not the one of the world's greatest white wines. Clive Coates calls it the world's top dry riesling and I'd humbly agree. Clos(means walled vineyard) Sainte Hune is a small 1.3 hectare monopole(vineyard that has a single owner) site and is the crown jewel of Trimbach's holdings. Only a limited 600 cases are produced each year. Vintages tasted included 1985, 1986, 1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and an 1989 Vendage Tardive(Late Harvest). Elegant, Pure and Complex was the theme that I took away from the line-up. A number of wines had botrytis(noble rot). Most of the wines were at 13% alcohol. All were bone dry with the exception of the VT.
- 2000- lemon yellow color with golden highlights. very forward and ripe. acid was good but lower as this was a warmer vintage. nice tropical aromas, peaches, exotic fruit. the wine fell apart a bit over the course of the dinner. would drink all of this now as it does not have the structure to age.
- 1999- tighter, leaner and more focused. i preferred this austerity and delicacy. beautiful mineral and floral quality. needs at least another 3-5 years.
- 1998- very corked
- 1996- corked, some riper banana aromas
- 1990- my WOTN(Wine of the Night) botrytis and smoke on the nose. complex and alluring. long length and concentration. i'd buy cases of this wine to drink now.
- 1986- an underripe vintage. lean and focused with citrus tones.
- 1985- Infanticide! pale gold, flowers, some oxidization. incredible purity and elegance.
- 1989 VT- pale gold, botrytis, tarragon. an oily petrol character.
Riesling is an aromatic white variety with naturally high acid and low to medium with occasionally high alcohol. Wines can be dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling. Riesling does not have an affinity to oak and is usually vinified in neutral vessels such as stainless steel or large oak vats. Cooler climate wines have more green apple, lemon and lime flavors whereas warmer climte wine exhibit more grapefruit and pear.
Based on 2006 data, Riesling was the most grown variety in Germany with 21% of planting and in Alsace with 22% of plantings. German rieslings are lower in alcohol and range in the residual sugar(RS) profile. Alsatian rieslings are traditionally fermented dry and have higher alcohol and body. In contrast to German laws, Alsatian rieslings can be chaptalized in the range of 1.5-2 % (each % corresponds to 16.83 g/liter of sugar). On some Grand Crus, Pfersigberg among others, the local growers association has decided to apply additional restrictions. According to Olivier Humbrecht, to make good, dry Riesling, one must use naturally ripe grapes and not resort, as is permitted in Alsace, to chaptalization to increase alcohol content. "If a dry Riesling is chaptalized," Olivier Humbrecht has said, "it will lose its varietal character within two to three years, whereas a good, dry Riesling can gain character and complexity over 20 years." On the other hand, “We chaptalize if necessary,” Trimbach told Jancis Robinson. “So, for instance, we added a little bit of sugar in 2006, but none in 2007. It’s usually about half a degree’s worth. We added none in 2005, a bit in 2004 and none in 2003 or 2002."
"There is no malolactic in any Trimbach wine," Jean Trimbach has stated. In contrast, Zind Humbrecht allows it to happen if the conditions prevail.