I love Alsatian wines — they are some of the most interesting, exotic and complex white wines in the world — and wonderful food wines as well. Hugel is one of the largest producers and has been able to maintain high levels of standards as well. Hugel was established in 1639 — and is still producing wonderful wines 13 generations later. Marc Hugel is now winemaker, and the quality at the upper end has been maintained, they have also improved at the lower end. The entry level wines are generally the generic ‘Hugel’ bottlings; these are négoce wines, made using fruit from more than 300 contracted growers who tend over 100 ha of vineyard. If there was a weakness in the Hugel portfolio it was here, but many sources indicate that there has been a great improvement; these were classic examples of the varieties in question.
Then comes the Tradition range, which is often a blend of purchased fruit and some estate-grown fruit. The pinnacle of the dry wines is the Jubilee range, always made from the Hugel’s own vineyards. These include Hugel’s two Grand Cru sites; Sporen (a decent 8 hectares) and Schoenenbourg (3.8 hectares). You will not find the Grand Cru designation on the labels, however, as Jean Hugel found too much fault with the system. He, like some other Alsace vignerons, felt that the classified vineyards had boundaries too extensive, and included a variety of soil types, which significantly devalued the designation.
The Hugel 2004 Riesling is about $14-$18 a bottle. It is a bit muted on the nose, but notes of pear and apple are apparent on the palate with a little jicama and citrus. Great minerality as expected and clean finish — a lot of wine for the price.