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To name an Alsatian wine producer, the first one that often come to the minds of wine enthusiasts is the highly reputable Hugel & Fils. It was established in 1639 by Hans Ulrich Hugel, who left his home in Switzerland to avoid the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648) that was fought between two main religion factions in Europe. Hans Ulrich eventually settled in Riquewihr in the center of Alsace, Northeast of France. Over the centuries, the highly successful winery business was handed down through different generations, carrying the iconic family crest and earning themselves the exclusively famous membership of Primum Familiae Vini (First Families of Wine – only 12 members).

One of the descendants, Jean Hugel (1924 – 2009), was one of the main contributors and very influential in developing the guidelines for Alsace “protected designation of origion”, that eventually created Alsace AOC in 1962 and Alsace Grand Cru AOC in 1975. He also pioneered the re-emergence of late harvest and botryised wines in Alsace, resulting in the famous Vendanges Tardives and Selections de Grains Nobles. These laws guiding the productions of the Alsatian wines are among the strictest in France and internationally recognized as producing wines of exceptional qualities. 


With settlers relocating themselves along the Rhine River that flows down the narrow strip region of Alsace, Northeast of France, viticulture practices naturally emerged more than 2,000 years ago. With the Vosges Mountains in the west providing protection from cold winds and rain, and the whole area at altitudes of 175m to 420m, it is one of the ideal viticulture land that has the balance of sunlight, temperature and drainage for cool climate grape varieties.

The signature grape varieties of Alsace are mainly the four noble grapes for whites – Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat. And for the reds will be Pinot Noir. Wine styles of Alsace focused mainly on the purity of the fruits, freshness and traditions. There is a saying, “when you drink an Alsatian wine, you will be able to taste the land.”

Prior to the 17th century, Alsace was the largest and most reputable wine producing region for the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. However, following quite a number of wars, namely The Thirty Years, The French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, The Franco-Prussian War, and eventually World War One & Two, Alsace was ravaged numerous times, also resulting in the changing of hands between the Germans and French. It resulted in a significant shrinkage of viticulture land and production of wines. Interestingly, due the different governing bodies over the centuries, the Alsatian community carries a Germanic influence that extended not only to their culture, tradition and architecture, but also culinary and wines. That is why it is the only AOC in France to produce single grape variety wines and allowed the single grape variety to be labelled, similar to the German wine practices.


Pinot Gris is a white grape variety that is a mutated clone of Pinot Noir (a red grape variety). It is grown in many countries and when allow to ripen more, it develops pinkish skins and with higher natural residual sugar, that will create a fuller body, softer acidity wine. In Italy, the grapes are harvested earlier, hence producing a more refreshing, light-bodied wines which they called Pinot Grigio.

The Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris is very youthful and has a very aromatic notes of yellow peaches, ripe red apples, Mirabelle prunes, white flowers and liquorice. Firm structure and a very well balanced wine that provides a lengthy refreshing finishing.

Categories: Wine Dinner