Usually, as host, ex-Roberson wine buyer Mark Andrew MW will do the research for our tastings. But with him away and revelling in a well-earned holiday all the way up to the day of the event, this time it was down to me to gather the knowledge to be imparted to our 16 lucky guests (this tasting sold out almost as quickly as a One Direction gig at the O2, so I’m told). Mark’s holiday could not have been better timed. I found the more research you do into this coveted Clos, the more you find yourself crawling down a dark but fascinating rabbit hole full of accusations, lies and rumours. As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, I was hoping this one would be put to bed on the night.
The Trimbach winery is one of the best-established in France, or indeed the world. Founded in 1626, after several relocations the winery is now in the village of Riquewihr. Clos Ste Hune itself is within a larger vineyard in Alsace. But if you went to Rosacker, the Grand Cru vineyard in Hunawihr, and tried to locate the Clos Ste Hune portion, you would be walking around all day (as Joe, our shop manager, can testify). Incidentally, this is a game the locals must surely revel in – playing dumb to the fascinated wine tourists searching for the famous vines. There is no sign, and certainly no wall (despite the ‘Clos’ in the name). The parcel of Rosacker traditionally known as Clos Ste Hune has been owned by Trimbach for 200 years, before the concept of a Grand Cru even existed. When Rosacker was incorporated into said Grand Cru AOC, they decided to keep the name ‘Clos Ste Hune’ and so must forgo putting ‘Grand Cru’ on the label.
Not being easily identified, Clos Ste Hune has been the subject of a lot of misinformation and rumour over the years. For example, that the wine is made from grapes grown near the church in Hunawihr (as depicted on the label). Even certain members of the elite wine-writing world have claimed over the years that this is the vineyard. Although owned by Trimbach, it is actually the view from the old winery, and this image was once used across the entire range of Trimbach wines. Opting out of the Grand Cru AOC theoretically also allows Trimbach to blend Clos Ste Hune with wines from other vineyards to boost production, another source of insinuation. The Trimbachs insist that the wine is and always has been made 100% from Clos Ste Hune. And if you want my opinion, why would they bother lying? They have a great wine, brand, whatever you want to call it. Let’s enjoy it for what’s in the bottle and allow the terroir of this beautiful Grand Cru to silence the whispers.
So let’s get down to the tasting. We often take for granted the wines we get to try running these evenings. It’s not often you find yourself sat in front of nine vintages of one of the most coveted wines in the world. But last night I was, and, although I would love the wines to do the talking, you won’t be able to hear them. So here is what they would say if you could.
2006 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
Considered a patchy vintage, this wine is far too young to approach. That’s evident immediately on the nose. Steely, mineral and not giving much away at all. Fresh lime and incredible tension on the palate. I noticed a sublime solidity across all the wines. Real weight here.
2005 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
A good but hot vintage definitely shows a hint of kerosene and added weight and colour compared to the 2006. Again, the wine shows an incredibly precise tension on the palate. Bursts of lemon and red berries coat the palate beautifully.
2004 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
A good but cool vintage made for an interesting comparison in the first flight. Definitely back to a style similar to the 2006. More honeyed on the nose but, for me, slightly disjointed with a less precise palate. A mysterious wine that needs 10 more years minimum.
2002 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
Lovely golden colour in the glass. An interesting vintage, it being the smallest harvest they have ever had. Production totalled 8000 bottles. A really full nose, vanilla and lime dominant. Lovely saline texture again and real racy acidity.
2001 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
Another classic Clos Ste Hune. The palate was a lot softer than the 2002. The 2001 vintage was better than people had anticipated and I think this is one for the cellar. Beautiful stone fruits on the nose; fairly floral. Beautiful acidity.
2000 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
A vintage that caused a lot of controversy. Some thought it excellent, some believed it to be atypical of Clos Ste Hune. Stylistically it was certainly different. Spicy notes on the nose with ginger and white peach. Touch of sweetness. Not like any of the others up to this point.
1997 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
Still young. Although an amazing vintage, Trimbach had problems with this wine from the get go. For me, it was sublime. Precise, mineral and true to style. Perfect balance between citrus fruit, and tension. Really great.
1987 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
It’s a shame we had to wait so long to start getting a touch of development on the wines. But a testament to how incredibly well made these wines are. Golden in appearance and superb weight on the palate. Raisin and peach. Great acidity and still full of fruit. Bags of life left.
1986 Trimbach Clos Ste Hune
The wine of the night. An absolute pleasure to have the chance to taste this wine. Relatively light in style. A complex, rich nose. And still loads of potential. Parker thought the 83 was far superior … I say he was wrong!