by Fred McMillin
for September 10, 1998

 


"Scarce in the U.S.A."


Prologue

James A. Beard, June 1958: "The gently rolling slopes of lovely Alsace produce delicate and fragrant wines...One is "Gentil," a blend of several grape varieties, that is pleasant but [alas] scarce in the U.S.A."

The House of Hugel is the most widely known and one of the oldest of Alsatian negociant firms, being established in 1639.

...The Wines of Eastern France, J. Baxevanis

Twelfth-generation Etienne Hugel: "We have recently revived a centuries-old Alsace tradition by blending five white varieties to create a gentle, dry "Gentil."


The Rest of the Story

GentilHow appropriate that such an old firm has resumed making such an old wine. Frederick Wildman imports it, making sure it is no longer "scarce in the U.S.A." What do the critics think of it? The Wine Spectator's Bruce Sanderson selected the 1996 as one of his best buy: "A vibrant white displaying floral, citrus and peach character. Finishes with a lip-smacking tanginess. Delicious." My nine tasters heartily agreed. Though Alsatian wines are generally drunk young, a year in my cellar gave it added aroma and charm.


The Wine

1996 Gentil, Alsace, France
Producer—Hugel
Importer—Frederick Wildman
Contact—Odila Galer-Noel, (800) RED-WINE, New York
Price—$9.50 range


Postscript

If you were wondering about the composition of Hugel Gentil, the five grapes are Sylvaner, Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 


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