Saturday, March 12, 2011

1996 Zind Humbrecht "Clos Jebsal"

100% Pinot Gris
Glass: Zalto Universal

"You gotta buy Zind Humbrecht if you want to taste the best of the best in Alsace".

That was the recommendation; I received when I started to have an interest in wine. The advice even had the ultimate approval stamp, with soaring high scores from Robert Parker. After having tasted a wide range of Zinds, I realized that my palate liked the Pinot Gris better than his Riesling (except his "Brand", but that was too expensive for me).

Back then; the wines delivered what I was looking for. It didn’t haven to be an everlasting relationship, as there was so much to try - but give me a wet kiss I'll dance with you. So we did and there aren't much more to it, than a flashback in time and a period with an overwhelming curiosity.

But my palate changed. It was German Riesling who altered the game plan. If to generalize, Alsace seemed a bit clumsy in comparison with their German cousins. German Riesling simply had a higher level of clarity, lightness and just much more class and finesse in my humble opinion.

But on this Friday (home alone) I did exactly what I did 17 years ago. I sat down with my favourite Zind Humbrecht / Clos Jebsal and served myself Terrine de foie gras with elderflower jelly and toasted bread on the side. Later I had a comté cheese with candied walnuts ready.

So let's pour the wine....

Insane nose and lot's of curiosity at first, but I was to learn that it was just a matter of time, before it spread to bizarre. You can't help to notice it's a wine with a massive thick viscosity and it should be fair to say it's loaded with flavours. There is also some residual sugar involved. Here are some of the notes, which came to my mind; acacia honey, elderflower, burned caramel, resin, birch trees and a wicked note of dates. The latter note is a real dilemma, as it opens a tricky spicy window and kills off both freshness and purity. Taste is incredible wild, opulent and too heavy loaded. It worked fairly okay, when I had the foie gras, but without food it was a disaster and slowly killing my appetite to continue. I rested half of the bottle for day two, where it hadn't improved.

An afterthought comes to my mind, whether it’s in fact too old? It’s certainly on the verge of tilting over. I have a 2001 Clos Jebsal left - think I will taste it sooner than later.

Ps. I have heard Zind Humbrecht in recent years shifted from this opulent type of wines to a more elegant style. Anyone out there with knowledge about this is more than welcome to chime in. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Hey Thomas!

I agree with you that since Olivier Humbrecht has been making the wines and especially since they have been made biodinamically since 1997 the wines have become more "finesse driven".

That is not to say the wines from before that time are not because when I visited them last May I had a Brand 1994 (dry) with Humbrecht Sr. which was absolutely gorgeous with a finesse I had rarely seen in a Riesling.

Ps. all the 2001's I have tasted recently seem not to be at their pinnacle yet.. Don't hurry yourself ;)

Anonymous said...

Thijs from Belgium by the way

Thomas said...

Hi Thijs,

Thank you for chiming in.

Good to hear about the status on the 2001's.

What is your favourite ZH, wine?

Best from,

Anonymous said...

I would have to say the Brand Riesling.. Am not too much of a fan of sweet Alsace, they are just too hard to combine with food to my taste..

Will you be attending Terre et Vins in April?

Thomas said...

Hi "Anonymous" you have a name ;-)?

Yes I will attend Terre et vins - will you?

Best from,

Anonymous said...

Sorry Thomas! Thijs again.. Need to make an account or remember to sign my posts!! ;)

90% sure I will be attending! Would be great to have a glass together there!


Thomas said...

No worries Thijs ;-).

Hope to see you there.