Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace is about to plant Riesling vines in a tiny parcel of the (28ha) grand cru Sommerberg in Alsace.
Brand Vineyard, Turckheim
The steep granite soils of Sommerberg – among the steepest of the 51 Alsace grand cru vineyards – are similar to Zind Humbrecht’s renowned Brand vineyard (pictured), and highly suited to Riesling.
Olivier Humbrecht, the owner of Zind Humbrecht, said the parcel, which he bought in late 2010 on behalf of his son Pierre-Emile, is in ‘the best part of Sommerberg’.
It had been planted mainly with Gewurztraminer by previous owners; the conversion to Riesling should be complete by spring 2013, he said.
A challenge for the domain was that the soils had been cultivated ‘more conventionally’ in the past, leaving them in a ‘fragile state,’ Humbrecht said.
Cellar master Paul McKirdy explained that previous owners – who preferred not to be identified – had chemically treated the parcel.
Since the acquisition, the domain has been following a programme of ‘biodynamic cultivation’, leaving the parcel fallow in preparation for planting.
Retaining walls will be built along the 45 degree hillside to prevent erosion, McKirdy added.
The acquisition does not increase by much the 40ha vineyard holdings of Zind Humbrecht: expected bottles from Sommerberg will be up to 1,800 per year.
The wine will not be sold as a grand cru single vineyard before seven or eight years, because vines will need time to age enough to be of interest, Humbrecht said.
Written by Panos Kakaviatos