Now, let us make one thing abundantly clear, I have loathed Zind-Humbrecht wines with furious intensity since about 2005. At my own urging I purchased piles of 1989, 1990 then 1995 – largely Riesling but I had a little flirt with Pinot Gris as well. Then, at the urging of *spit* Robert Parker, I threw money at anyone who would sell me some 2000 or 2001 Riesling Grand Crus.
Now I aged all these bleeders in the best locations I had access to. I would whip one out to wow my chums when they were between 7 and 12 years old. Every Pinot Gris was utterly shagged out with all its charms long since decayed.
Riesling has better longevity than Pinot Gris’s couple of months. I would guess that about 6 out on the 7 bottles I opened had totally fallen apart. They had no acidity, no fruit, just a bastard load of oxidation, shit loads of alcohol and often a whiff of a filthy wine making/ageing facility.
It is true that the one out of seven was really quite good, but by the point of me calculating this lamentable score sheet, I had learn to detest and generally hate Zind-Humbrecht wines.
Then, a few weeks back I saw that the Wine Soc had bottles of the 2013 Grand Cru Goldert Muscat on their list. Now I knew that Zind-Humbrecht had paid over the odds for the plot of Grand Cru Goldert in order to make the best Gewurztraminer and Muscat in Alsace, and so therefore, one presumes, in the world.
I have tried many Goldert Gewurztraminers, including a notably emetic bottle that clocked in at 16.5% – hell’s bells! However, I had never managed to score a bottle of Grand Cru Goldert Muscat – until this Wine Soc offer passed through my usually disinterested hands. Well, I had to, do not you think? It may have been a grotesque, hideous monstrousity of Muscat; but I can manage the tiniest bits of self-flagellation (before I throw the sommerier’s recommendation of Muscadet at the back of the his head). How bad could it be?
Bugger me backwards! This does not smell like any other Zind-Humbrecht wine I have had previously! It is not anaesthetically alcohol, it is not thick or dense and it is squeaky clean. This is a revelatory experience for me!
Rather than all those things that Zind-Hunbrecht normally smell of, this has a winsome nose of delicate beauty. It invites you to revel in its paddling pool full of flower petals and a few lemon balm leaves in it.
What is not in that paddling pool is a shit-load of nose burning alcohol. It claims 12.5% on the label and, by god, I think that is really what this Zind-Humbrecht wine is. I have had Z-H Riesling at over 15% and Gewurtztraminer at 16.5%. They were vile. This is scrummylicous!
The nose is delicately floral, with a hint on the lemon balm leaves I mentioned. I seem to remember smelling them in the last Grand Cru Goldert Muscat I had from Ernest Burn – the great exponent of Goldert wines. So it could be vineyard character or it could be my whimsical imagination.
‘Pretty’ would be damning this wine with faint praise. It is certainly attractive, like the good looking girl that Richard Dawkins used to include in the selection of a new year’s students. But also, like the yearly pretty New College student, it is sophisticated in its charms – the more you examine, the more you find.
The floral and leafy character grow in the glass as it warms up. Fortunately, unlike so many Italian Moscatos, there is not the slightest hint of detergent aromas.
It tastes pulchritudenous, sculpted, and incredibly drinkable. There is nothing heavy or overblown here – it lithely stimulates every tastebud in your mouth, caressing them to a very charmed state of loveliness.
Flowers fill your cakehole, but it also has another aspect I do not expect from Z-H, it has an exciting level of acidity. Muscat is not known for acidity, but this is vivacious and perfectly harmonious
The palate awakes memories of Ernest Burn Goldert Muscat, but this is incomparably more svelte, sophisticated and stylish. It really is a stunner – I would happily buy it again.
So I have had a Zind-Humbrecht that I like, and is stunningly good. I cannot think of a better dry, non-sparkling Muscat. It is also good with delicate food. So have Zind-Humbrecht managed to make the best dry Muscat in the world with their purchase of a Grand Cru Goldert plot? I admit I am more than a little stunned saying this, but in 2013 they manifestly stand at the zenith of dry Muscat wines.