Just call me The Girl with the Riesling Tattoo! Yours truly with Etienne Hugel of Famille Hugel wines and a bold but temporary tattoo!
Winemakers have serenaded me, flirted with me, and even exasperated me but exuberant Etienne Hugel is the only one to ever tattoo me! To my great relief, the bold RIESLING tattoo was only temporary but the wines of Famille Hugel certainly left their mark - in the very best way. Famille Hugel has been producing wines in Alsace since 1639 but their wines and attitude are far from old-fashioned and stodgy.
I recently had the pleasure of sharing some wine and conversation with Etienne and his son Jean-Frédéric; they represent the 12th and 13th generations of the Hugel family. The family is leading a Riesling revolution to spread the word about how beautifully their Riesling, and other Alsatian wines, complement modern tastes and cuisine. Listen to the podcast to learn more about the Hugel family, why the "wines of Alsace are a cultural bridge between France and Germany", and Riesling's incredible aging capacity - they recently opened a bottle from 1865 that had survived three wars and was "still absolutely stunning."
Riesling does not suffer from a recognition problem - even the most casual wine drinker has heard of it. No, Riesling's primary challenge has perhaps been the misconception that this aromatic white wine is always sweet. In reality, one of the most intriguing characteristics of Riesling is its ability to elegantly express the spectrum from very dry to very sweet. Famille Hugel Riesling Classic 2014 ($24) is dry but vibrant, with flavors of fresh white peach and lemongrass, a structured minerality, and a hint of green herbs. Famille Hugel produces their wines with food in mind and Etienne describes them as "wines that really sing around the table." The beauty of this dry Riesling is that it pairs perfectly with a wide range of cuisine; including sushi, ceviche, curry, and Thai food. It truly goes beyond borders.
Watch the video to see Etienne and Jean-Frédéric describe the aromas and flavors of their Riesling. The video also features their delicious Gewurtztraminer Classic 2013 ($29) Gewurtz means spicy and this dry white wine with aromas and flavors of lychee and mango is a tasty match with everything from spicy Szechuan to smoked BBQ pork.
Should your travels take you to Alsace, Famille Hugel welcomes guests for tours and tastings at their premises in Riquewihr. Tattoos optional. Cheers!