Wine Pick: Domaine Zind Humbrecht Muscat 2013
Friday the 13th deserves a special wine.
November 13, 2015
On average, Friday the 13th occurs every 212 days, but in 2015 we have enjoyed (endured?) three of these superstition-steeped Fridays. A rare day deserves a special wine, like this expressive white from one of the world’s most distinguished estates. It’s from Alsace, it’s made from the muscat grape, it’s dry, and it’s farmed in the way the ancients would have recognized. No herbicides, no pesticides, no machinery—just two horses and 28 people hand-tending the vines according to the phases of the moon. Mid-weight and bone-dry, it’s a wine for soft, rich cheese, veal and mushrooms, or a traditional and addictive Alsatian bacon and onion pizza (called tarte flambée). Perfectly suited to Friday the 13th or any/all nights of the year.
Domaine Zind Humbrecht is unquestionably one of the great, great estates of the wine world, in operation since 1642. Olivier Humbrecht is in charge now and, at six-foot-five, would have been at home on the basketball court or rugby field rather than stooping over vines and barrels. Long ago, he became one of the world’s few Masters of Wine, and he’s globally admired for his quiet passion and genius winemaking. A proponent of biodynamics (a specialized form of organic farming), the vineyards have no chemical inputs and there are no tractors; just 28 people and two horses who tend 40 hectares of white grapes grown on remarkable terroir in northeastern France. All wines wild-ferment in old oak casks then rest on their lees gaining complexity and texture. They are understated, elegant and alive with a mystical energy.
Very pale gold in the glass, this muscat displays aromas of dried rose petals, grapes, delicate honey and dusty earth. It’s funny how the wine smells floral and sweet, but it’s the antithesis of that in the mouth: bone-dry, with powerful mineral presence, sizzling fruit-coated acidity and long, layered finish. The texture is at once silky and stony, with enough intensity for soft cheese, white meat dishes, or just sitting dreamily by the window or fire. You’ll find this wine in select BC Liquor stores and private wine shops, and keep an eye out for Zind Humbrecht gewürztraminer, pinot blanc and riesling as well.
Domaine Zind Humbrecht Muscat 2013