Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hugel dinner

On Thursday night it was back to the Savile to meet G and some friends of his, one of whom has an extensive collection of old wines from the Alsace. I've been meaning to learn more about Alsace wines so this was very exciting. I walked through Fitzrovia and Mayfair in the rain and turned up dishevelled, cold and wet, so it was great to walk into the bar and find a glass waiting for me.

The wines were all from Hugel and we tasted 11 of them going back to 1967. They looked amazing in their tall green bottles with the distinctive yellow label of Hugel. We kicked off with a Sporen 1970, made from a mixture of grapes, which was a lovely golden colour, quite dry but very Alsace in style and made a fantastic aperitif but I also thought it would go well with food.

Then we had a half of Muscat 1979 Cuvee Tradition, which J told me is one up from the standard cuvee. This was a paler golden colour and very dry. I'd normally expect a muscat to be quite grapey, but this wasn't. G described it as "dangerously drinkable" and certainly to come home after a hard day's toil and find one of these in the fridge would be very welcome.

The Gewurz 1973 was an amber colour and slightly murky so we had our suspicions even before tasting it - and yes, it was seriously maderised, but some around the table found that quite attractive. Fortunately the Gewurz 1973 Selection Personelle (which J told me later became Cuvee Tradition) en demi was on song. It was a pale gold colour and was quite fat and mellow with a good finish. J described it as being "in good shape for a 36 year old". Ahem. I described this as being the best so far in my opinion. Not that I was biased in any way due to the vintage...

Then we had the same wine from 1976, an excellent year in Alsace, which was fragrant, full and big with no hint of the scent of "granny's handbag" as ACC likes to describe it, that rather heady turkish-delight type perfume that gewurztraminer often has. This was even better than the 1973. And then we had the Gewurz 1976 Reserve Personelle which was a step up from the Cuvee Tradition. This was magnificent, a real showstopper and the wine of the evening - it was big and rich and would go brilliantly with pate and brioche.

The wines we tasted towards the end of the evening were sadly less reliable - the Gewurz 1983 Reserve Personelle was maderised, the Tokay d'Alsace Cuvee Tradition 1981 was corked and the Riesling Reserve Exceptionelle Auslese 1967 was "not correct" - again I think it was maderised judging from the colour. These things are to be expected when one is tasting such old wine, and I found it interesting to taste them anyway (well, all right, maybe not the corked one).

We rounded off the evening with coffee and calvados and rattled back to Bloomsbury feeling educated about old Alsace and very grateful to J for giving us the opportunity to drink such amazing rarities.


  1. I've perhaps leant a little too far into the calvados bottle tonight but I can't help thinking that this is one of the greatest blogs ever to grace the internet. More power to your elbow, etc.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, I feel privileged to receive acclaim from a connoisseur such as yourself! Sadly there is no Calvados chez moi at the moment so I'm having to make do with some vieil armagnac XO from Waitrose, originally bought with the intention of marinating prunes but now being used to marinate me instead. Mmmm!