Vineyard Article

Clos Ste. Hune

Last edited on 7/31/2012 by charlie11
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A note on the Terroir by James E. Wilson (1998, University of California Press, Berkeley). You may want to consult pp 94-100 for color figures making the geology easier to comprehend. A copy of this seminal book should be part of every serious wine amateur's library!

...The Upper and Middle Triassic strata contain dolomites [magnesium-calcium phosphates] interbedded anhydrite [anhydrous calcium sulfate] and gypsiferous clays [derived from calcium sulfate]. [comment -- soils derived from these minerals would be expected to have an acidic reaction]; the hard dolomites would help form the low hills of this terrain; They also contribute to the pebbly texture of the soil. The Lower Triassic is made up of sandstones and shales, with conglomerates and overall stratigraphic sequences, few classic caprock and slope landforms develop; rather the typical features are low, rounded hills. In addition to the alluvial fans, there are some Quaternary sheet washes of pebbles and sands from the Vosges mixed with the calcareous sandy/clay soils. ....the Ribeauville Fault Bundle opens up southward at St.-Hippolyte and continues [southward] to the Fecht fan delta at Colmar. The area contains a large numbe--more than a third--of the Grands Crus of Alsace. The detail of the geologic map [..... brings] out the patchwork nature of the faulting.

The cross-section of the sub-Vosgian Hills illustrates how the step faulting lowers successvely younger strata into place toward the Rhine fault. The fault blocks are between 100 and 150 acres (40-60 ha) in size. Coming through [like a] vivid patchwork, the dominant [.....] Triassic, [...] Jurassic, and [ ...] Oligocene [demonstrate] the sequence of the step-faulting.

Beginning with the tiny Kanzlerberg terroir at Bergheim, six Grands Crus are located in the [...] Triassic zone: Osterberg, Kirchberg, Geisberg, Rosacker, and Schoenenbourg, Clos-Ste.-Hune, andthough not a Grand Cru, is also on Triassic soils. [note--while Trimbach's Clos Ste.-Hune is not an AOC Alsace Grand Cru, there is little doubt that this wine could be so labelled if the Trinbachs chose to participate in the Grand Cru scheme.]jht

A write-up on this vineyard by Rare Wine Co's Manny Berk--ed. by jht

The Trimbach family’s tiny 3-acre Clos Ste. Hune .......... The Clos lies within the Rosacker grand cru. Yet, the Trimbachs label [the wines{ simply as Clos Ste. Hune, just as they have since 1919. They refer to neither Rosacker nor grand cru [..].

A Unique Terroir. Arguably the most perfect place in France to grow Riesling, Clos Ste. Hune stands apart from Alsace’s other top Riesling vineyards, which rely on steep slopes and heat-retaining granite or schist soil to bring their fruit to full ripeness. In contrast, Clos Ste. Hune’s 40-year-old vines are planted in cool, calcareous- clay soil with a gentle incline and a high percentage of limestone.

So, while other famous Alsace Rieslings can sometimes border on heaviness, Clos Ste. Hune balances its enveloping richness with an intense minerality, remarkable finesse and great structure. Thus, like a Raveneau grand cru Chablis, the more it ages, the more profound Clos Ste. Hune becomes.

One Master. Clos Ste. Hune has for more than two centuries [been made by] one of France’s greatest winemaking families. Staunch traditionalists, the Trimbachs reject their neighbors’ recent efforts to make sweeter, lusher wines. They continue to make Clos Ste. Hune as they did in the past: a cool, slow fermentation, a quick racking to remove the wine from the lees, no malolactic fermentation and a short period of aging in neutral wood foudre before bottling early to retain the fruit. The wine is then aged for an incredible five years in bottle before being released.

In [extremely exceptional] years, tiny amounts of Vendange Tardive are made, but they are different from other VT’s. They result not from botrytis but passerillage—dehydration caused by the sap returning to the vine's root system. They boast immense concentration and complexity, but only off-dry levels of residual sugar, as Trimbach vinifies them to be as dry as possible. Like other Clos Ste. Hunes, the VT’s are capable of immortality.

Unrivalled Consistency. But what makes Clos Ste. Hune most extraordinary is its consistency, having established a record of greatness over the last 86 years that is unequaled in Alsace. As Tom Stevenson writes in The Wines of Alsace, "I cannot think of any Alsace Riesling that could match its performance year-in, year-out over a span of, say, 40 vintages. It is the consistency of performance that establishes the greatness of a growth."

Even in average years like 1986, Clos Ste. Hune is stunningly aromatic, complex and capable of long development. Such a track record shows the advantage of this vineyard as a Trimbach monopole..... With only 500 to 600 cases made, and demand far exceeding supply, even current vintages of Clos Ste. Hune can be excruciatingly difficult to find. As for older vintages, these can be impossible [to find].

Exact position of Rosacker on