February 14, 2014
ALSACE IS one of the smallest regions in France. However, the very small segment of land — bordering Germany, and sitting on the French side of the Rhine — is steeped in history, tracing its roots to the days of the Holy Roman Empire. The Hugel wine making family, through the Hugel & Fils company, faithfully bottles this history along with their wines.
The company was founded in 1639, and family members are still active in the production of wines, with its 13th generation now working in the family business.
According to the company, the Hugel family is a member of the Primum Familiae Vini, an association of wine dynasties which promote the value of family wine producers.
"All our heart and soul is into our bottles: 12 generations, 375 years... the same family, the same name, and the same profession, [and] in the same place... There [are] very, very few wine producers in the world who can claim this," said Etienne Hugel, a family member from the 12th generation, who serves as the company's General Director.
He came to Sofitel's La Veranda on Feb. 6 to discuss the long and intertwined history of wine and his family. "Wine takes time... if you don't have the backing of a family and a longterm vision, you run your business for the short term, which means, to please your banker rather than your customers," he said.
For that night, six wines were served: a Gentil 2012 paired with Alsatian inspired canapes, a Riesling 2011 paired with sushi and sashimi, a Riesling Jubilee 2007, paired with seafood on ice and foie gras dumplings, a Pinot Gris 2009, paired with poultry, a Pinot Noir 2008 paired with Peking duck and prime rib, and a Gewurtzraminer VT 2006 paired with desserts, all from Sofitel's Spiral.
The Gentil 2012 had a fragrant, floral aroma, and was fruity and expressive on the first few sips, and a bit of a strong finish by the end of the glass. Mr. Hugel called it one of the company's most accessible wines.
The Riesling 2011 was light, but managed to hold its own against very strongly flavored seafood. The Riesling Jubilee 2007 was flown in especially for the occasion as it is not available in the country. It had a stronger floral bouquet compared to the 2007 Riesling, but it had a more mellow and soothing, but richer flavor.
The Pinot Gris 2009 completely envelops and complements the flavor of poultry, and contained hints of vanilla and pepper. The lone red during the dinner, the Pinot Noir Jubilee 2008, was more gentle compared to other red wines, but in an evening flowing with white wines, it expressed itself well with a robust and spicy flavor.
The Gewurtzraminer VT 2006 was characteristically sweet, and was very fragrant, and contained notes of lychee in its bouquet and flavor. Mr. Hugel credits the flavors of his wine to the terroir of Alsace. "These wines are deeply rooted in the terroir of Alsace, which is the driest wine region of France... [Alsace] is the cultural bridge between France and Germany, on the French side of the Rhine, so the wines couldn't be more French... We enjoy longer growing seasons... the grapes have a long maturation time, and they have time to accumulate these aromatic components that express themselves in the wine," Mr. Hugel told BusinessWorld.
The company exports 93% of its production to 108 countries in the world. In the Philippines, Hugel wines are exclusively available from Wine Story, located in ShangriLa Plaza Mall, Serendra in Bonifacio High Street, and One Rockwell West.