The 2000 vintage brought the ripest riesling here in 30 years, according to marketing director Etienne Hugel, whose cousin Marc handles winemaking for this highly visible firm. Potential alcohol levels here were a full degree higher than those of '97, the ripest previous year. In fact, noted Etienne, it was virtually impossible to get bone-dry riesling in 2000. He pointed out that the estate works with a high percentage of fruit from heavy soils, both its own and material purchased by long-term contract. As a result, the firm does not do as well as some in rainy years like 1999, but performs better than average in dryer years like 1997 and 1990. Nineteen ninety-nine, said Etienne, brought the highest yields since 1992, with 2000 a good 10% to 20% lower across the board. Hugel has long had a reputation for making some of the region greatest SGN bottlings, often in substantial quantities. Although relatively little SGN was produced in 2000, the examples I tasted presented stupendous potential. (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York, NY)
Medium cherry-red. Cherry, spices and earth on the somewhat evolved nose. Supple, rich and sweet, with moderate depth and notes of earth and oak spice. Finishes with a slight edge of acidity.
Red-ruby. Sappy black cherry and a whiff of tar on the nose. Dense, sappy and spicy, with penetrating fruit and a floral lift. Still holding a lot of CO2 This is dense and pure. Plenty of pinot here. A hailstorm in early May cut the crop in half; the ultimate yield was under 30 hectoliters per hectare.
Fresh aromas of lime skin, spring flowers and mint. Firm and juicy but not austere. Just a bit of residual sugar nicely buffered by firm acids.
Aromas of lime, mint and powdered stone; much fresher than the '99 version of this wine, which seems rather advanced for its age. Rich and dense, with good flesh and supporting backbone. An attractively supple, fruit-driven riesling.
Musky honey and fusel aromas. A step up in flavor intensity from the '99 Tradition, with notes of peach, honey and earth. Still a rather evolved style of riesling, but with good fruit and stuffing.
Stony, complex nose features white flowers, mint, quinine, lemon and lime. Rich and dense, with a dusty sense of minerality. As stony as this riesling is, it not at all hard. Finishes very long, with a whiplash of flavor. This comes across as dryer than the Tradition even though it's carrying a few more grams of sugar (10, vs. 7, with the same 13.2% alcohol), due to its stronger mineral character and higher acidity. Will be long-lived.
Aromatic nose of tangy fruit salad, honey and earth. Very concentrated, rich and sweet, with vibrant flavors of fresh fruit salad. Finishes with great length and verve. Perhaps just a hair behind the great '95, which had higher acidity. But this will go on for decades, too.
Musky, soil-inflected aromas of quinine, ginger, flint, smoke and iodine. Supersweet and thick in the mouth; higher in alcohol but slightly lower in acidity than the '98. Finishes with a bit less grip but this is even larger-scaled wine.
Perfumed aromas of dried apricot, spring flowers and smoke. Dense and nicely concentrated, with flavors of pit fruits, butter and spices. Has lovely weight but retains a degree of delicacy.
Smoke, earth and flinty minerality on the nose. Reasonably ripe and textured, but lacks real nuance and grip. I don't find the dimension here of most Jubilee wines from this estate.
Expressive, fruit-driven aromas of peach, apricot, butter and smoke. Enticing flavors of dusty stone and pit fruits, nicely framed by harmonious acids. Here the 14% alcohol virtually hides the 11 g/l r.s., with the result that the wine comes across as nearly dry. Has solid underlying structure. Large-scaled and quite long.
Fresh, pure aromas of flowers, lichee and banana. Not complex but has volume and breadth, along with attractive spice notes. Finishes with good spicy persistence and a late hint of smoked meat.
Smoked meat, licorice and minerals on the nose. Supple, spicy and fresh in the mouth, but perhaps best suited for drinking over the next year or two. A lighter style of gewurztraminer that should make a flexible food wine.
Subtly aromatic nose of dried meats, rose petal and mango. Very ripe but fresh, with sound acids giving the finish firm grip. Still holding a lot of CO2 Finishes with very good persistence. Rather like the '97 bottling in style
Rich, spicy aromas of orange peel, minerals and smoke. Velvety and moderately unctuous, with very good concentration and moderate sweetness. Finishes with a hint of gewurztraminer bitterness.
Roasted bacon, lime, rose petal and quinine on the nose. Quite powerful and penetrating; come across as just off-dry and very fresh thanks to its solid acidity and 14.2% alcohol. A rather outsized gewurztraminer built for the dinner table. Will last well. The Hugels thinned the fruit in 2000 (a step they rarely take with gewurztraminer) for fear of having another huge crop.
Somewhat evolved but reticent aromas of smoke and earth. Sweet, intense flavors of orange and apricot freshened by juicy acidity. A nicely concentrated, lively fruit bomb, not at all thick or over the top.
Musky aromas of orange oil and quinine. Superconcentrated and sweet, but with accompanying concentration of acids. Real essence of fruit salady tokay flavors. Firm underlying structure keeps this fresh and firm. Finishes with palate-staining fruit. The 18.5% potential alcohol was the highest yet for this bottling, and the finished wine will carry about 100 g/l r.s.
Musky aromas of cured meats and honey. Concentrated, fat and full, with sound balancing acidity keeping the flavors fresh. Just a hint of finishing dryness. I don't feel the high yield of '99 here.
Tangy aromas of apricot, flowers and honey. Thick but juicy; boasts lovely density but can't quite match the tokay for sheer material. Very sweet and very long.
Superripe aromas of apple and pear eau de vie Lively, very intense flavors of ripe apple, pear and peach. Not yet particularly complex but very long and bright on the back end.
Superripe, gamey aromas of candied apricot, honey and maple syrup; this struck me as slightly Tokaji-like in its sheer richness. An extraordinary essence of riesling fruit; thick and solid but sharply delineated thanks to brilliant acidity close to 10 grams per liter. Conveys an almost saline impression of extract. Great purity and endless finishing flavor. The Hugels say they spent about 280 hours picking enough grapes to make 700 liters of this elixir.
Sweet butter, game, vanilla and nuts on the nose. Very sweet but quite penetrating; today the flavors seem purer than those of the '99 riesling SGN. Lovely vibrant fruit flavors carry through on the impressively long aftertaste.
Pineapple, marmalade, roasted peach and honey on the nose, along with a hint of barley sugar. A wine of great intensity and verve; can't quite match the riesling SGN for sheer structure and nobility but this is saline, chewy and extremely concentrated. The superripe fruit flavors unfold and build on the superlong finish.
Very fresh, complex nose melds citrus zest, smoked meat, rose petal and cinnamon. Very intense, fresh, firm-edged flavors convey an impression of power, even if the wine is not quite as dense as the '99 tokay. The gewurztraminer tannins give the finish solid grip and partly buffer its 153 g/l r.s.
Knockout botrytis-soaked aromas of marmalade, grapefruit, honey and mirabelle, along with a distinct suggestion of red berries. Offers the solidity of a fruit syrup, but the concentrated acids and chewy extract give the wine great clarity of flavor and verve. This, too, is like an essence of fruit. This wine lingered on my palate until my next appointment. The 2000 Hugel SGNs are likely to outlast us all.