In the second part of our three-part series, acclaimed wine writer and Academic Advisor for the Wine Scholar Guild Andrew Jefford surveys the latest wine trends in Alsace. From larger vineyards to the prospect of Premier Crus — not to mention the impacts of climate change on the region’s bevy of varieties — let’s take a look at Alsace’s recent history and where the region as a whole is headed.
Read Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford’s Keynote Speech to the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival in this specially prepared written version for the Wine Scholar Guild blog. Andrew is happy to respond to any questions or comments you may have about this post. Use the "Comments" feature at the bottom of this page.
This episode is Part 2 of a conversation with Olivier Humbrecht, MW and Andrew Jefford about Alsace. The first part covered Olivier's journey to become France's first Master of Wine, as well as the history and vineyards of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht.
Part 2 picks up with Olivier's philosophy of non-interventionism and biodynamic principles and practices in the vineyard. In addition to Olivier's approach to farming and yield management, we discuss wine making techniques, pressing, long fermentations, and climate change.
This episode features a conversation with Andrew Jefford, of Decanter Magazine, and Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor, and Olivier Humbrecht, of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Zind HUMbrescht) and Master of Wine.
Done in two parts, this first half of the interview will first cover Olivier’s accomplished journey as France’s first Master of Wine, and the history and vineyards of the domaine.
As an accomplished wine writer — and now as the Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor — Andrew Jefford has decades of experience watching the French wine industry evolve. Here, he takes a look at the wine trends that are shaping the Champagne region, its landscape, its climate, the industry and ultimately, how winemakers are adapting in the cellar.
After a generous 2018 French-wine harvest, nature has dialed back on its beneficence by around 12% in 2019: initial estimates put the crop at around 43.4 million hl compared to 49.4 m hl last year. That’s not disastrous, though, especially since clouds have been gathering over the export scene in the last few months: the USA has imposed 25% tariffs on French wines under 14% abv, while sales to Hong Kong (often the preferred route into China for French fine wines) dropping by 26% over the last six months of political turmoil there. The generally hot weather of 2019, of course, may give French wines a helping hand back into the US if those tariffs linger: it wasn’t hard to produce wine over 14% this year.
There’s no wine region I enjoy visiting more than Alsace.
It’s beautiful, of course – and not just the half-timbered houses around which a profusion of flowers seem to float, or the grand hillside vineyards romping up to the forested Vosges mountains, always somehow bigger and more imposing in scale than those of Burgundy. The growers are fascinating characters, too, as if their historical and geographical position, wedged between (and much fought-over by) France and Germany, has given them an independence of thought which eludes those with a more settled position in each wine culture.
Then there’s the wines. It’s commonplace to say that Alsace wines are underappreciated -- but it’s true. For me, no white wine region can offer more diversity and intrigue than Alsace, nor does any single regional range of white wines appeal more to my palate...
WSG Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford was recently interviewed by Gavin Smith for the blog of wine merchant Fine+Rare.
Words from Andrew on this thought-provoking interview:
"I asked him to leave out the softballs, as 'polite' or 'respectful' interviews are tedious. He didn't actually lay into me (though I'm eminently attackable) but he did ask some fascinatingly deep questions which I enjoyed answering.
Among the topics we covered were the language of wine, wine and philosophy, wine writing, wine judging, the wine competitions I'm involved in, the scoring of wines and its effect on wine craftsmen and craftswomen, wine writers and corruption, the definition of 'great wine', the importance of wine-makers in wine creation and their relationship to terroir, exciting wine regions, varietal plurality, alcohol in wine -- and a question on recent wine experiences, which I was able to answer by referring to a recent Wine Scholar Guild study trip in Alsace."
You can read the full interview HERE
Andrew will be leading the following WSG study trips in 2020:
- Bourgogne Wine Study Trip (May 2020 - SOLD OUT)
- Alsace Wine Study Trip (June 2020)
- Rhône Wine Study Trip (October 2020)
- Languedoc-Roussillon Wine Study Trip (October 2020)
Ready for your next challenge? There's still time to join the upcoming sessions!
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