Thirsty Thursday: Hugel, Gentil, Alsace, France 2012

Bordering Germany lays Alsace.

A German map!

A German map!

In 75 years, Germans and French swapped the region four times.  The wines share this borderland mentality where Francophone varieties like Pinot Gris, Blanc, and Noir touch vineyards of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Sylvaner.  What better introduction to this melting pot than a blend, the only blend from one of Alsace’s largest, but oldest (1639!) and most respected producers: Hugel et Fils.

Hugel Gentil Alsace 2012They call it “Gentil”.  But it is not gentle, nor not Jewish.  Gentil instead refers to noble grape varieties (not Concord).  So only those grapes worthy of quality wine in Western Europe go in.

This Thirsty Thursday mixes Gewurztraminer 14%, Muscat 2%, Pinot gris 23%, Riesling 20%, Sylvaner & Pinot Blanc 41% in hopes of creating a sum greater than its parts.

Now the early summer of 2o12 was miserably wet.  But a hot August led to a fabulous harvest in late September.  You can thank the Vosges mountains, which protect Alsace from rain, making parts of it the driest in France.  For the climate in Alsace is both extremely continental and marginal: very cold at night and warm during the day.  These extremes mean oodles of acidity, low alcohols, and endless refreshment.

But how does cross-culturarlism translate in the glass?

Appearance: A clear, mild color of lemon lime.

Aroma: Pure honeydew melon, white rose, a slight lychee, ginger, and lemonade.

Palate: Medium sweetness appears, disappears, and then resurrects itself on the finish.  Like Jesus, if the cross was acidity, and Christ 1.3 grams/ liter of sugar.  Alcohol sneaks up on you at only 12.5%. A plump little, roly, poly body provides a pleasant core.

Flavors: follow a similar trinitarian framework: mellon upfront widens into kiwi, strawberry, and simple syrup, all of which prickle and vibrate into a finish of salt, ginger, and pulpy lime for a medium length.

Conclusions: Hugel’s 2012 Gentil is balanced, complex, a bit jangly, but of solidly good quality (3 of 5).  For around $10, it will open Alsace’s door to newcomers and roll out the carpet, while providing fans a daily glass they can respect (and afford on a regular basis).  Yes, Hugel exports 80% of what they produce.  Yes, they source grapes for this wine.  But, it is lovely, representative, and cheap.

Gentil will eat up appetizers, fish: especially sushi with tempura.  The minimal sugar will cool spicy dishes, from paella to thai curry. Cream sauces, Munster cheese, fondu or  oven-roasted game bird will fly with this zippy little drink.


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4 Responses to Thirsty Thursday: Hugel, Gentil, Alsace, France 2012

  1. A few other things about Alsace : a lovely wine country, great people with awesome accents and some awesome regional dishes like sauerkraut, baekhoff,… Great post !

  2. sand110 says:

    Love the one-take, homemade feel of company video. I would title this the “Happy Wine”. Great review, wouldn’t have considered the wine w/o review.

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