A remarkable day in the 2nd most picturesque town in Alsace: Riquewihr. We started with a 2 1/2 hour tour led by none other than Etienne Hugel himself. Etienne is part entertainer, teacher, ambassador and we loved every minute with him. We even had a chance to meet his Japanese wife-to-be. His self-proclaimed nick name- ET the VT -stands for ETienne Vendange Tardive.
Etienne represents the 12th generation of Hugels who run the winery. And they are in a very strong position because they can do it without any bank loans and do not even use the grand cru classification system. Their bottles with the label Jubilee or Homage indicate that the wine comes from a grand cru but since they believe that the grand cru classification was done politically and includes mediocre terroirs, they prefer to use their nomenclature.
We tasted 7 wines with Etienne: Gentil ’11, pinot noir ’07, Jubilee riesling ’07, gewurz ’11, gewurz Homage ’98, gewurz ’05 vendange tardive, gewurz ’99 selection grains nobles. They were all outstanding and we were particularly impressed with the ’98 since it proved his point that their best white wines improve with age.
After the tasting we walked practically next door for lunch at the one star Michelin La Table du Gourmet where we actually filmed for an episode on French TV! More to come on this…
The avant garde menu at Table du Gourmet included slices of pumpkin with freshly picked Vosges mushrooms as the appetizer and milk fed veal as the main course. Our wines were the Hugel Gentil 2012, Agapé muscat 2011 and the Marc Tempé gewurz Mambourg 2009. All of us tall people had to be careful as we walked around the restaurant since the building from the 1500’s had very low ceiling beams.
After lunch we then walked a short distance to Vincent Sipp’s Agapé Winery where we focused our tasting on riesling: riesling 2012, riesling Schoenenbourg 2010, riesling Osterberg 2010, riesling Rosacker 2011, riesling vendanges tardives 2009 and gewurz SGN 2008. This small (60,000 bottle winery) makes outstanding wines and each riesling had its own attractiveness. Some liked the Rosacker because of its steely dryness; others (me included) preferred the fruitier Schoenenbourg. This is a winery to be reckoned with for Alsatian wines.
We ended our day in the fairybook village of Riquewihr with a tasting at Dopff and Irion. Although the wines paled in comparison to Hugel and Agapé, it was an opportunity to visit another historic building.
Tomorrow on our Alsace Wine Tour we visit the Number 1 most picturesque village in Alsace.