5 of the interview with
you own some Grand Cru (great vintage) vineyards, there is
no mention of Grand Cru on the label and no promotion made,
a long debate. You can visit our web site where you can read
two pages about it (http://www.hugel.com/en/index_en.html).
half of our vineyards are on great vintage terroirs. We do
not assert these Grands Crus on the label in order to show
our disapproval of the legislation and the delimitation set
up by the INAO (office regulating the appellations in France).
It is made with commercial view in mind without taking into
account quality and specificity. For example, some great vintage
vineyards cover 75 hectares (185 acres) all in one piece,
which is not very good for our credibility.
recognize the remarkable work carried out by the appellation
pioneers: Faller, Humbrecht, Deiss. They are unfortunately
only the top of the iceberg.
consumer point of view, there is no evidence that Grand cru
on the label means that the wine is better. There is no guarantee
of quality. Quality is related as much to the producer as
to the soil and the terroir.
Hugel has developed the process of Vendages Tardives
(late harvest) in Alsace, would you tell us a little bit about
produces 1,300,000 bottles in total. Only 2 to 3 % of the
production is Late Harvest. And still, it depends of the year.
In 2004 we did not make any Vendange Tardive.
over-ripeness wines have been a tradition in the Rhine Valley
for many centuries. We found bottles of 1865 which are still
good to drink. Michael Broadbent tasted one recently and gave
5 stars: "Still quite unbelievably perfect" he said!
Tardive (late harvest) is produced with noble rot such as
a Sauternes. For historical reasons, following the German
annexation, this tradition more or less disappeared from Alsace.
Our family is one of the last to have maintained the torch.
We never stopped. Until 1959 the late harvest was marketed
under a German name: Auslese. From 1959, we translated the
Germanic term and from now on we use Vendange Tardive.
1983, we were the only one to produce those. So the INAO (office
regulating appellations in France) in the Seventies asked
our family to write a bill project to regulate the Vendange
Tardive term. Today the bill is in force in all the wine Alsace
region. It sets up a very strict control of the conditions
of production of these wines.
the pride of the Hugel family to have set up the most strict
regulation of all the French appellations. It is my uncle
and my grand father who wrote the bill. For example, it is
stipulated that chaptalization is prohibited whereas in Sauternes
it is authorized.
system of control and follow-up which in guaranteed credibility,
it is impossible to find on the late harvest market wine which
does not have a qualitative minimum. We can be sure of a minimum
level of quality when a late harvest is bought.
Are wines from noble grape selection better than late
noble grape selection is a quality level above late harvest.
It is the quintessence of wine in Alsace. We sort grapes,
grape by grape to keep only the best. It is pure noble rot.
of production is 1 to 10, i.e. a bottle of noble grape for
10 bottles of late harvest.
There are minimums of maturity. For the late harvest, the
minimum is 15.3 of potential alcohol, for the noble grape
it is 18.2. Only three degrees is a huge difference, a whole
world between the two!
to the beginning of the interview with Etienne