Zind Humbrecht 2004 Gewurztraminer, Alsace (generic AOC bottling):
Even though yields were extremely high in '04, as the vines responded w/ vigor from the stress of the extreme climatic conditions in 2003, Olivier Humbrecht tamed his crop beautifully w/ extreme canopy management & multiple thinning passes in the vineyard. I wonder if his biodynamic approach has benefited the vines w/ regard to yield, fruit maturity & phenolic ripeness?Irrespective, his 2004's were drier than most of his previous years, as some fermentations took up to a year to complete. I believe the AOC bottlings contained a large percentage of grand cru fruit, from simply younger vines and de-classified vats. The pedigree showed in all 3 varietal bottlings I've tried thus far (riesling, pinot gris and gewurztraminer). I found the gewurz to be the most impressive.
The 2004 had achieved an impressive total alcohol content of 14.5%, attesting to the ripeness of the fruit irrespective of the pitfalls of the vintage. The gewurz was endowed w/ an almost amber tinged, deep golden color that almost resembled an older, late harvest white from Alsace in it's depth and saturation. The nose had such penetration, pumping through tangerine blossom, pure floral bouquet notes, exotic lychee and tropical oils suggesting of palm kernel. The palate size was staggering, but suave and nearly weightless w/ precise surges of apricot, mango, flowers & kiwi fruit that seduced so easily but w/ sheer authority.It blows my mind that a broad 'Alsace' bottling can achieve such heights, and w/ a 20 dollar pricetag it is an easy case purchase- so we can do more than wonder how the minerality and secondary character will evolve, we can actually watch it happen- bottle by bottle (a novel concept w/ a wine of this caliber). Having said that, it will be a tough task...considering how decadently endowed and delicious it is. 94 points. Should evolve through 2020.
The Vieux Telegraph 2004 La Crau is not something of which I'll wax poetic about for paragraphs (as it has been discussed here previously), but I'd like to mention it in brief. While there is much more immediate balance and accessibility in the 2004 VT than it's riper, rougher and more alcoholic 2003 sibling, the '04 will never possess the 03's level of power, fat and density.A brief 45 minute decant revealed melted licorice, cedar, blueberry and sweet fig notes in the nose. The palate was surprisingly fruit driven, w/ sweet cherry, clove spice and cocoa notes gliding on a silky, crisp (for a CDP) frame. Time in the glass showed some increases in concentration, so brief cellaring may prove to be beneficial, but it is easily accessible at this stage. 91-92 points.