Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Pinot Blanc Comparison

335. 2006 Hugel & Fils "Hugel" Pinot Blanc (Alsace AOC - France)

This post was meant to be one of those down & dirty, let's get it over and done with, speed entries. Problem is that Hugel & Fils have one of the most comprehensive winery websites that I've seen and there's plenty of interesting information that I could pass on. I'm still going to try and keep it short though because you can always go and visit the site if any of this piques your interest.

We don't drink a lot of Alsatian wines in our household even though we usually enjoy them. That could be because there aren't an awful lot of them sold in the provincial stores. That might be changing somewhat though as the region has seen big and steady changes to its winemaking throughout the 20th century. Thinking further about it, the most likely reason for that is that 80% of all wine produced in the Alsace is white and the traditional varietals grown there largely correspond to some of the best grapes to be found in our BC wines.

Indeed, I grabbed this bottle as a comparison to some of the BC Pinot Blancs that we've tried. I've mentioned previously that it's been argued, by as notable a source as Barb Phillips - BC own Wine Master, that Pinot Blanc could be the grape to put BC winemaking on the map from a global perspective. I won't go into that much more now, but Alsace is one of the few other global regions that produces Pinot Blanc on a large scale, varietal basis.

Pinot Blanc still isn't really seen as one of the star attractions on the white varietal scene. So,we often find BC Pinot Blanc wines blended with other varietals. An Alsatian Pinot Blanc is required by law, however, to be 100% straight varietal wine. That may be why this wine seemed to have a bit more acidity and a little less fruit than I often see with those BC wines. If the BC Pinot Blanc is blended, the additional grapes could flesh out the wine and make it seem a little fuller on the palate.

I digress.

The Hugel site calls this Pinot Blanc an "all purpose dry white wine" and it certainly worked for us. The Hugel brand is more of an entry level for the winery; but, entry level or not, the wine comes in at $20 and that's not exactly bargain pricing for Pinot Blanc in our market.

The wine is made exclusively from grapes that are purchased from long term, contract growers. While Hugel & Fils has their own vineyards, those grapes are used for the winery's higher end labels. The family has had a lot of time to make those contacts with growers and to hone their production as the family's wine roots in Alsace go back to 1639.

I also found it interesting that, as an indication of its prominence in the wine world, Hugel & Fils was elected to the "Primum Familiae Vini" - an association of top family owned wine companies in major world wine producing regions. The wineries forming the group are chosen by their peers and the membership is limited to no more than twelve wineries at any one time - and that's for the entire world. Pretty high praise.

My guess is that we'll see Hugel on The List again before we're done here.

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