"We usually turn the heat on in our house at the beginning of September," said Marc Hugel, "but in 2005 it wasn't necessary until October 1 because the weather was so warm." Following a rainy first five days of October, there was a superb 12-day period during which morning fog, afternoon sun and cool nights triggered widespread noble rot, according to Hugel. The Hugels produced gewurztraminer VT and SGN for the first time since 2002. "But our riesling was actually very low in sugar in mid-September, before ripening in a rush at the end," said Marc. (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York, NY)
Also recommended: 2005 Sylvaner (85), 2005 Riesling (85).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Gentil*, 2005 Pinot Blanc*, 2005 Muscat Tradition*.
Good deep red. Spicy red berries complicated by earth and smoke on the nose. Broad, rich and dry, offering lovely subtle sweetness of fruit and substantial volume. A very adult style of pinot, finishing suave and persistent, with some apparent oak tannins. Richer and riper than the 2004 bottling.
($60) Pale color. Subdued aromas of lemon, lime, stone, honey and pine resin. Supple and fruity, with broad but bright flavors of citrus skin, crushed stone and minerals, along with a chewy saline quality. Fairly large-scaled riesling, but stylish and juicy. A bit tight but nicely sweet on the finish, with very good lift.
Pale yellow. Tight nose hints at dried apricot and spices. Sweet, dense, ripe and strong, if a bit youthfully disjointed; this will need a year or two to absorb its ripe acidity. My sample shut down quickly in the glass. Finishes with a trace of alcoholic warmth but little obvious phenolic character. This is aged mostly in large oak foudres
($22) Pale color. Varietally expressive nose offers smoked meat, nutmeg, mace and flowers. Dense, broad and dry, offering a lovely combination of yellow fruits, spices and flowers. Finishes suave and persistent, with a hint of lavender. Very good dry gewurztraminer for simple classique
($51; 13.1% alcohol with 13 g/l r.s.) Pale, bright yellow. Subtle but very ripe aromas of smoked meat and gingery spices. Very rich and concentrated, with lowish acidity and moderate sweetness. A very broad, suave example that's quite young but already approachable. Ripe acidity and a salty nuance contribute to an impression of grip, but the finish avoids any obvious phenolic character.
Pale yellow-gold. Reticent but pure nose hints at very ripe white peach, nutmeg, honey and caraway seed. Concentrated and powerful, with an enticing sugar/acid balance. This is less obviously minerally and harmonious now than the '01 I tasted just before it, but it boasts an impressively chewy, tactile texture and superb honeyed length. Still an infant and hard to judge.
($210; like the VT, this is from the grand cru Sporen; from fruit harvested on October 23 with 23% potential alcohol) Bright, full yellow. Inscrutable on the nose following the recent bottling, but with lovely lift and an impression of fine botrytis. Fat, dense and glyceral-thick on the palate, with a white peach flavor complicated and enlivened by ginger and quinine. Wonderfully lush, smooth wine. Marc Hugel notes that 2005 was the first year that this producer made gewurztraminer VT and SGN since '02, and 2001 was the most recent year for riesling and pinot gris VT and SGN. It's hard to believe that this will match the '01 bottling, but this is very young today.