Wines to Seek Out
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht offers one of Alsace's most extensive rosters of wines. With the 2019 vintage, there were 26 different bottlings alone. But don't interpret that as a Jack of All Trades approach. This is among France's most detail-obsessed wineries. "Alsace can produce everything," Olivier Humbrecht told me during a tasting in 2018. "And that can be a problem."
If you are new to this region, any of Zind-Humbrecht's non-Grand Cru wines are an excellent introduction to Alsace: take your pick from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Muscat. However, we're focused on Riesling from the Grand Cru and monopole vineyards here (with one exception) because this is one of the world's greatest estates for one of the world's greatest wine grapes.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Riesling
The Clos Windsbuhl is owned and maintained entirely by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, one of three such "monopole" vineyards. However, it lies adjacent to a Grand Cru vineyard (the Rosacker) — a minor wrinkle that really only matters on a semantic level, for this picturesque vineyard yields a Riesling of elegance, sprightliness and surprising length, thanks to the vineyard's higher elevation and exposure to wind, as well as thin limestone soil.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Clos Häuserer Riesling
Adjacent to the Grand Cru Hengst (see also Barmès-Buecher and Albert Mann), the Clos Häuserer belongs solely to Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, and features Riesling vines that date back to 1973. There is a fierceness to the fruit and secondary aromas of this wine: rather than you searching for them, they come at you. Here, Olivier Humbrecht shows his deftness by creating a wine that manages balance despite its intensity.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Grand Cru Brand Riesling
If the Clos Windsbuhl offers elegance, and the Clos Häuserer brings the power, than the Grand Cru Brand Riesling from Zind-Humbrecht has it all. Comprised of granite and angled just-so at the sun, the Brand is known for its sweltering summers, and the rich Riesling that heat affords. Magic in the glass from the Grand Cru Brand is not a given, but Zind-Humbrecht navigates the challenges deftly from year-to-year with a Riesling of impressive depth and roundness. I feel like this is the ultimate Alsatian Riesling to offer a skeptic.
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Grand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos Saint-Urbain Pinot Gris (and Riesling and Gewurztraminer)
This trio of wines is where you'll find Zind-Humbrecht at its most intellectual. The thought-provoking nature of these wines comes from a variety of factors, but consistently, it is the one-in-a-billion terroir combination of volcanic soils and botrytis, a tandem that hardly ever appears together in a wine. The noble rot comes in certain vintages, thanks to the small stream that flows along the Clos' base. Pair these factors with the impressive, impossibly steep terrain, and you have France's most fascinating vineyard. The wine itself, particularly the Pinot Gris, is defined by a dozen different tones at once, with a smoky finish. With small production and high demand, these wines are pricey, but any wine lover ought to try them at some point.