Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a dinner at Turner’s Restaurant, Harbourne, Birmingham, held by The Pershore Wine Society, of which I am a member. The dinner was a prepared by Chef Richard Turner, and wines were selected by Connolly’s of Birmingham. These dinners are a wonderful opportunity to try many different types of wine outside your normal range and this evening was no exception. One match was a marriage made in heaven – the wine was superb. It was matched with a Terrine of Smoked Ham Hock and Fois Gras served with pickled Beetroot and Sour Dough Toast. The wine was an unusual choice to go with such a variety of flavors, a Pinot Gris from Alsace, Hugel’s ‘Tradition’ 2005.
The 2005 vintage was described by Hugel on their website as follows “Everything indicates that 2005 will be a great vintage. Grapes were healthy and ripe, balanced by excellent acidity. The wines confirm our early optimism, showing great aromatic purity and class on a par with the finest vintages.” I have to say that their optimism was well founded!
Some of the grapes for the ‘Tradition’ range are purchased from growers under long–term contract to Hugel, the rest coming from their own estate. After pressing the must is decanted and left for a few hours before being fermented in temperature controlled barrels at around 18º – 24ºC. The wine is racked once, undergoing natural clarification during the cooler winter. In the spring the wine is lightly filtered before bottling and aging.
The resulting wine was a pale yellow color which had great depth and was most attractive to the eye. The first impression of the bouquet was masses of ripe fruit – apricots and greengages to my nose, with a hint of honey in the background. There was talk of liquorice but I have to confess to missing that one! It was open, well balanced and appetizing. The overwhelming impression in the mouth was of a lively wine with well balanced acidity which carried both the richness of the Terrine and the acidity of the pickled beetroot. It filled the mouth with a delightful freshness and fullness of flavor with a long finish which lingered tantalizingly on the taste buds.
Serge Dubs (World’s Best Sommelier 1989) said that the wine would age well in his opinion, improving for several years and I would have to agree. It is a classic Pinot Gris from Alsace, demonstrating all the qualities for which that region is so rightly famous. If you have the chance to taste any – do so, you will enjoy it enormously.