Thursday, November 7, 2013

Back In Babys Arms (November Newsletter Blurb)

So some of you might not know this about me but when I started at The Wine Country 17 years ago, (holy shit) brought on to help with shipping and the quickly growing mailing list, I came on with one very specific issue, one I was honest about and rather unwilling to change…I hated wine. Never drank the stuff, couldn’t really believe there was even such a thing as a store just for wine and I somewhat nastily resisted even tasting the wines open on the tasting bar, no matter how much my coworkers urged me. Just wasn’t my thing and the only time I would get pulled into tasting something was when Randy would call me over to do so. I would drag my feet, groan, huff and puff all the while Randy handing me glass after glass of stuff that all tasted and smelled the same to me. One afternoon Randy called me to the tasting room, big smile on his sweet face and he handed me a glass of golden liquid, a glass of wine that would start my heart racing on a path that has never ended. I fell in love with wine that afternoon, changed my career path and became obsessed with aromas, textures and flavors all after one sniff of Zind Humbrecht Gew├╝rztraminer.

Alsace started my love affair with wine and the famed Zind Humbrecht wines lead the charge. Alsatian wines have continued to play a huge roll in my wine drinking pleasure but the wines from Zind Humbrecht, not so much. Two factors as to why, one being that after getting tons of press and fawning over from the wine media the prices went through the roof and right out of my price range, secondly, the press was going gaga over wines that were, in my humble opinion, overly saturated, alcoholic and cloyingly sweet. I was finding it difficult to even taste the wines let alone pair them with food and paying like $80.00 for a wine that was only really suited for cheese courses and were so pushed as far as extraction that they were falling apart after five years in the cellar, well we had to cut the cord as it were. Let the wine media and followers of it have those wines, let them figure out what to do with them while we set forth in restructuring the Alsatian department. Finding little wines like Roland Schmitt Pinot Gris and Bott-Geyl Pinots d’Alsace, wines that did what we loved Alsatian wines for, paired brilliantly with a wide array of foods. We couldn’t be more pleased with how these wines have been preforming and how many people have also fallen head over heels for the wines from Alsace. That said it always made me a little sad that I couldn’t sell the wines that flipped my wine switch in the beginning, so when I was approached by a sales rep about getting “brought up to speed” on Zind Humbrecht, well I took her up on it.

Could not be happier to report that The Wine Country is once again in the Zind Humbrecht business! The wines are more reserved than when I last tasted them and while they are still on the spendy end of things we were able to procure a couple bottlings that may not be everyday drinkers but are in prices that we can afford on a splurge and especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Turkey and Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris? Yams or sweet potatoes with Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris?! Yes please! 

2012 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris $25.99

If you’ve ever been curious about what a textbook representation of Alsatian Pinot Gris is you need look no further. Showing plenty of peachy notes on the nose but tempered by a slicing cut of nectarine and orange zest. On the palate the wine is ultra-bright and practically shimmying with minerals and fat cutting acidity. We could just drink this refresher on its own but you can pair it with everything from slightly spicy seafood and chicken dishes, to gooey cheese and even eggy dishes. What an absolute delight to drink.

2011 Zind Humbrecht Thann Pinot Gris $45.99

Now this aint your auntie’s Pinot Grigio! This is a curvy, rich, powerful white wine with so much depth and richness it almost needs chewing, just this side of being over the top but with a far drier palate than the nose, and its apricots, syrupy peaches and honey would suggest and bristling acidity that keeps it in absolute perfect balance. Not a wine for subtle foods. Here you want fall flavors, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, powerful cheese or heavily spiced white meats. You won’t believe the texture here, or the fact that it clocks in at 16.5%! Indulgent and worth it. 

2011 Zind Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Gew├╝rztraminer $76.99

To anyone that think Gewurztraminer is insipid or for beginners, you owe it to yourself to be educated by this stunning bottle of wine. The entire staff was rendered speechless, well aside from the groaning, when we tasted this very serious and heart-stopping white wine. The nose is a gorgeous mix of peaches, dried apricots, lychee, black tea, browned butter and baking spices and on the palate the weighty, but far from fat, wine just seems to melt across the tongue and stain it in the most sumptuous way. Very fruity but far from sweet there is a refinement here that only Zind Humbrecht could deliver. Blew our minds.    

Welcome, home....


Charlie Olken said...

I am more than surprised to see you back in the ZH camp, but, of course, I was surprised to find you hating on them so much.

Over the top? Well, yes, and thus useful in their own way because as you ahve so rightly observed with the Clos Windsbuhl, balance is the key, and I was never afraid to say, OK, let's choose the right first courses and the wine will, and its ilk, will shine.

So, welcome back. :-} I think I love your palate even more.

BTW, we got our annual supply of grower bubblies for review today and I always thank you, albeit usually silently, for insisting that I add them to our tasting menu.

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie Old Friend,
How very nice to hear from you once again...been a long time love.

I never hated ZH. Impossible for me to hate first loves, but I did find the wines increasingly clumsy, too sweet for me and getting truly sloppy after a few years in the cellar...just couldn't find, within my palate framework or understanding, a use for them. One the world stage of big, chewy, super extracted white I honestly found them too sweet and lacking in the kind of complexity I desire from wines that fetch, oh I don't know, $60 and up. For those prices I would sooner sell my customers, (and drink by the way) Chardonnay from Burgundy or California, or even some wicked cool GG Rieslings. I never hated the wines but I phased them out to offer fresh, vibrant, affordable drinking whites from Alsace. Now between you and I, (seeing as we are here alone and junk) the supplier who sold me these mentioned that they had two "off vintages" which means the wines were more restrained, but also noted that Olivier was also pulling back a little and for that, well I am truly grateful to feel a little piece of fond, heartfelt home in my mouth.

Time again for your bubbly tasting. I remember it, the company and your home fondly. Thanks for that piece of fond, heartfelt home or memory I get to have too. If you think of my, silently or otherwise, when you taste grower Champagne, well Charlie, then I am very proud. Have a great tasting. I will be curious who you are tasting, my own lineup of growers shifting as of late and lots of way fucking cool new stuff abound. Cheers Sir Charles. Thank you for the visit.

Thomas said...


I, too, found Zind Humbrecht rather sweet. I attended a seminar once many years ago where one of the family members was asked why the wines were sweet. He said that the wines were not sweet.

Gewurztraminer is a high pH/low acidity grape when mature. One way to offset that problem, taste-wise, is to go for high alcohol, for a mouth feel to mask the high pH. ZH wines came in at 14%, maybe more. Quite often, high alcohol seems to the palate like high sugar content. although the wines really did seem My memory tells me--it was 20 years ago--that when I tested a couple of the wines, they registered near or at 2% residual sugar.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh the wines, for the most part, are sweet and always have been which is likely why I loved them in the beginning, they didn't taste like "wine" but as Charlie likes to point out, they were, and now some are again, in balance. The second Pinot Gris I write about here is thick, mouth coating and way rich, not to mention the 16.5% abv which makes it come off even sweeter but there is this nearly electric beam of acidity that runs along the tongue and sides of the mouth which just tightens everything up and straightens the wines perfectly. Wasn't always the case I assure you...