Vendange Tardive or late harvest wines are the sweet jewels of the Alsace region and in particular, the Hugel family. It was Jean “Johnny” Hugel that first used the term following the 1976 vintage and who personally drafted the guidelines to producing vendange tardive (late harvest) that would become law in 1984. The law is strict and details several variables that must be considered including sugar and alcohol levels, vintage declaration, and vinification techniques.
The Hugel Gewürztraminer Vendange Tardive is sourced from the family owned parcel of the Grand Cru Sporen vineyard on the slopes just outside of Riquewihr. Soils here are primarily clay and chalk.
Prior to harvest the intention of a vendange tardive is declared to the INAO. The grapes are allowed to sit on the vine until maximum sugar and alcohol levels are achieved. They are then hand harvested and brought to the winery for sorting and vinification. There are no pumps used at any point in the vinification process. The must is cold fermented and then transferred to neutral vessels to undergo aging.
Hugel Vendange Tardive is only made in the very best of vintages. Produced from 40 year-old vines in exceptional vintages, this rare wine has been a specialty of the Hugel family for generations. Hugel’s “VT” wines are produced from grapes over-ripened on the vine and picked much later than normal. “Noble rot,” or botrytis, gives these wines tremendous ageing potential and they’re frequently placed among the finest white wines in France.
The aromas and flavors are very refined, with a very long finish. On the nose, the wine is an explosion, blending multiple floral aromas: rose, acacia, jasmine, ripe and candied fruit, passion fruit, mango, lychee, spices, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, together with honey, currants, and a hint of over-ripeness. The whole is harmonious, refined and elegant. On the palate, it is velvety, suave, perfectly mellow, soft and silky. The wine can be enjoyed immediately or after 10 years of bottle age. It can be enjoyed with cakes, tarts, apple, pear, apricot, with foie gras, terrine or sautéed, and especially on its own.
Bright straw gold. Sexy marmalade botrytis tones complement quince, toffee and cinnamon on the nose. Pure, clean and rich, with noteworthy balancing acidity to the ripe yellow fruit and sweet spice flavors. Really an impeccable sugar/acid balance (roughly 5 g/l total acidity and 98 g/l residual sugar), as this wine does not come across as flabby or too sweet.
Entirely from the Sporen, the 2009 Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive offers an intense, clear, fresh and spicy bouquet with grapefruit and cumin aromas. Rich and elegant, this is a very intense and juicy, well-balanced undercover Sporen provided with a fine tannin grip and a long and mineral aftertaste. Really stimulating. Picked with "almost no botrytis" at 17.2% potential alcohol and bottled with 100 grams of residual sugar.
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