(Comments from Jean Frédéric Hugel, 13th generation)
For many regions, 2023 was a difficult vintage, torn between heat waves often coupled with heavy rainfall, and drastic drought.
In view of this record, Alsace is in a privileged position, and 2023, at a time when the wines are still fermenting (the harvest ended on Thursday, October 12), looks like a miraculous vintage.
Expected to be a sunny, dry and ripe vintage, 2023 has nothing in common with 2003 or 2020. Yes, the year was dry and sunny, but Alsace didn’t experience the heat waves or critical lack of rainfall that dampened hopes in the southern half of France.
On the contrary, the sunny, cool weather kept acidity levels quite satisfactory – though not high – while guaranteeing near-perfect sanitary conditions until late in the harvest. Literally not a single speck of botrytis was reported, and so – the first official announcement – there will be no production of late harvest wines at Hugel for the 2023 vintage. Two weeks of rain at the beginning of August provided the precarious water reserves essential for the end of the vegetative cycle, and only one day of rain was to be reported thereafter until the end of the harvest.
The harvest date of September 18, two weeks after the official (and controversial!) opening of the campaign by the regional authorities, enabled us to maximize the qualitative potential offered by nature.
The grape varieties expected to be at their best were first and foremost the Pinot Noirs, ripe with beautiful colors and harvested at over 13.5° potential. Sanitary conditions remained very good right up to the end, enabling sufficient sorting on the vine to obtain remarkable quality. Riesling is another grape variety to benefit from in 2023, with some great wines expected: the Schoelhammer and Hoppler were both harvested above 13.5° on October 3 under glorious sunshine. But for the latter, low yields were disappointing. Finally, the Gewurztraminer wines, on the whole magnificent, are also expected to be dense and well-structured, with welcome freshness.