"As far back as family memories go, the Schoelhammer, at the heart of the historic Schoenenbourg vineyard which overlooks Riquewihr, has always been amongst our most favoured single vineyards. From 2007 we decided that the Riesling from this exceptional site, traditionally vinified apart, also merited to be bottled separately. Schoelhammer seeks to reveal the unique character of a dry, mineral Riesling from a marl-rich terroir, deep and suave in style, and which takes time to express itself fully." -Etienne Hugel
Terroir: Produced from the finest plot of the Hugel estate in the heart of the grand cru Schoenenbourg vineyard. Schoelhammer covers a mere 30 rows of vines dedicated to Riesling and organically farmed. Schoelhammer's specific vines grow on Triassic Keuper marl soil from the secondary era (marine sediments, c.200 million years) with a 45% clay content, planted at an altitude of 1000 feet, facing due south, on a slope that averages 25 degrees. Harvest date : 11 October 2007.
Vinification: The grapes are hand harvested and taken in small crates to the press which is filled by gravity, without any pumping or other mechanical intervention. After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels (at 64°F). 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 extensively in Hugel's cellars until released for sale.
Climatic conditions were a carbon-copy of the excellent 2007 vintage. Budburst at the end of April was quite late, but May was warm and sunny so flowering began on 15th June and took more than a fortnight to complete. July and August were particularly cool with hardly any rise in temperature, but in mid-September the Indian Summer arrived without a drop of rain. The sky stayed bright but temperatures were relatively cool. As a result, the grapes ripened slowly but fully, perfectly healthy and with excellent acidity.
The 2008 Alsace vintage was already born great but may prove to be exceptional.
The bouquet is deep, complex and very expressive, while the palate is overwhelmed by myriad tastes and sensations.
The wine flows over the palate, filling the mouth with a richly generous yet invigorating freshness. The spirited character and breeding of Riesling is allied to the complexity, depth, richness and minerality of the unique Schoelhammer terroir, the quintessence of the Schoenenbourg.
Score: 96 PointsJamesSuckling.com Author: James Suckling
A very complex rose petal and herbal riesling that is ridiculously fresh for almost a decade of age. Very muscular and concentrated, but still cool and fresh with enormous mineral depth at the finish. Just coming to its peak, but decades of aging potential!
Score: 92 PointsThe Wine Advocate Author: Robert Parker
Bottled in September after the harvest, the 2008 Riesling Schoelhammer is from the Schoenenbourg Grand Cru and opens with a gorgeous nose: pure, fresh and lemon-flavored, with great maturity and some minty flavors. Fermented down to two grams of residual sugar, this is a full-bodied, finessed and elegant Riesling classic full of vital acidity and mineral tension. Pure and salty in the aftertaste. There are some hints of aging already (the finish is slightly drying) and the wine is not highly concentrated, so I wouldn't wait that long to drink it. With fish and legumes it should be excellent now. "The grapes were very sound in 2008, due to a very sunny and dry harvest", says Marc Hugel. "We had to wait a long time until we were convinced by the 2008 vintage as we were with the 2007," he adds.
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