Profile of Hugel

The Hugel family are quite possibly the most important winemakers in Alsace today. 13 generations of this remarkable dynasty have been inexorably linked with the region’s development and prosperity; patriarch Jean Hugel was instrumental in creating the guidelines for late-harvest and botrytis sweet wine production in Alsace in the 1980s. Indeed, Jean was a powerful and influential figure in an influential family: wine writer Tom Stevenson described Jean Hugel as “the single most important person in the development of Alsace’s wine industry throughout the 20th century.”

The first member of the Hugel family to settle in Alsace was Swiss national Hans Ulrich Hugel, who arrived during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) and decided to make a new life in the region. Settling in the town of Riquewihr – today one of Alsace’s prettiest – he soon integrated himself into the town’s community. In 1939 Hugel was made a freeman of the city and soon took charge of the very important Corporation of Winegrowers. The origins of the company’s logo date back to this period: in 1672 Hugel’s son built a grand townhouse in the street of Rue des Cordiers, which bore a family crest that is still in use today.

Over the centuries Hugel’s winemaking operation continued to prosper, despite the numerous wars and conflicts that ravaged Europe from the 18th to the 20th centuries. By the early 20th century, the current owner Frédéric Emile Hugel decided that it was time for a shakeup. He left the old family property and established new premises in the center of Riquewihr which still forms the heart of the family business. Nevertheless, there were tough times ahead. Phylloxera and the 1st World War had devastated the region of Alsace. Many of the vineyard sites were destroyed by the conflict, yet Frédéric Hugel refused to give up. Battling on, he fought to save what was left of Alsace’s viticultural heritage, and worked together with a group of farsighted winemakers to drag the region back into the light. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles returned the region to French control, and so they could rebuild their livelihoods.

Frédéric Hugel’s son and grandson, both named Jean, were no less the pioneers. Grandson Jean Hugel’s expertise was a vital component of the decision to establish a superior designation for Alsace wines – Alsace Grand Cru – in the 1970s. The intrepid winemaker trampled all over Alsace’s soil with a geologist for three years, examining where the vineyard boundaries should go, and that crucial separation point between spectacular, good, and ordinary. The designation has been updated three times: in 1983, 1992 and 2007 the list of Grand Cru vineyards was expanded. Among them is Schonenbourg, a hillside vineyard which is today responsible for producing some of Alsace’s finest Riesling.

In 2015, Hugel achieved yet another milestone. The launch of the single-vineyard Riesling “Schoelhammer” caused quite a stir in wine circles; 30 rows of vines at the heart of the Schonenbourg hillside are responsible for producing a Riesling that almost defies words. Only 4,288 bottles were made of this spectacular wine, a Riesling with an incredible structure, pervasiveness, and mineral tension. A wine which delivers pleasure now, but begs to be cellared to allow the full complexity to reveal itself.

This is the quintessential hallmark of Hugel’s range of wines. On the one hand, structured, mineral and dry, they also boast a lovely ‘come-hither’ quality, balanced by purity and concentration of fruit expression that is rarely seen, even in Alsace. Cultivating the highly sought after “Schoelhammer” vineyard has given this family unparalleled insights into producing world-class Riesling, while the whole portfolio – including a beautifully scented Pinot Noir – continues to shine. Riesling, however, is the real reason sommeliers and critics salivate over Hugel’s latest releases. Hugel arguably makes the finest white wine in Alsace – many would say the world.

Wines produced

  • Riesling Classic 2017

    100% Riesling. Sourced from 12 plots surrounding Riquewihr. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Riesling Estate 2015

    100% Riesling. Sourced from estate vineyards – mostly from the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg vineyard. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Pinot Blanc Classic 2017

    100% Pinot Blanc. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Pinot Noir Classic 2016

    100% Pinot Noir. Fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is matured in vats until it is bottled in early summer the following year. The bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Pinot Gris Estate 2015

    100% Pinot Gris. Part of the wine is fermented in temperature-controlled vats, another percentage (around 30%) is fermented in six to ten wine Burgundy barrels. After a single racking, the wine is then lightly filtered in spring before bottling. The bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Riesling Grossi Laue 2013

    100% Riesling. Produced from Grand Cru grapes, , the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release.

  • Schoelhammer 2009

    100% Riesling, sourced from the exceptional single vineyard in the heart of the Schonenbourg Grand Cru climat. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled vats (at 18°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release. Limited production, this wine is suitable for extended cellaring.

  • Riesling Vendage Tardive 2012

    100% Riesling. Produced in exceptional years from a selection of over-ripened grapes sourced from their Grand Cru vineyard. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release. Limited production, this wine is suitable for extended cellaring. A dessert wine style

  • Riesling Selection de Grains Nobles 2010

    100% Riesling. Produced in exceptional years from a selection of over-ripened grapes sourced from their Grand Cru vineyard. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in the Hugel cellars until their commercial release. Limited production, this wine is suitable for extended cellaring. A dessert wine style.

Winery details

Hugel

3, rue de la premiere armee
68340, Riquewihr
France
Tel +33 (0) 3 89 47 92 15
Fax +33 (0) 3 89 49 00 10

Appellation
Alsace
Founded
1639
Area under vine
30 hectares of estate vineyards
Winemaker
Marc Hugel
Owner
Hugel Family
Production
1 million bottles per annum
Grape varietals
Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner

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