Hugel & Fils is one of the most traditional wineries of the Old Continent. Its history began in the 17th century, when the young Hans Ulrich Hugel settled in Riquewihr, a town in Alsace, France, on the border with Germany, which was disputed for centuries and at the time was completely devastated after the Thirty Years War.
In 1639, Hugel took the helm of the Corporations des Vignerons— an association of wine producers— and in 1672, his sons built a large estate on Cordiers street and placed the family’s coat of arms over the main door, which marked the origin of the current corporate image of Hugel & Fils.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hugel oenologists were known for the meticulous care they devoted to the vineyards, and even today the grapes are still manually harvested as it has been done since time immemorial.
Furthermore, let us not forget that the region of Alsace had been cultivating vines for more than 2,000 years, an economic activity that brought great prosperity to the area, considered one of the best for its unique climate, where the grapes are allowed to ripen slowly.
This characteristic led to the production of dry and aromatic wines of great finesse and intensity, a perfect combination for most Eastern and Asian cuisines, and of course ideal to be enjoyed with a selection of French cheeses or a splendid foie gras.
In 1902, Frédéric Emile Hugel left the old family property to settle in the center of Riquewihr, where the winery still has its headquarters. By that time, the Hugel family had set the foundation for the revival of late harvest wines.
Today, the Hugel family—now in its 12th generation— owns 30 hectares located exclusively in Riquewihr, which only produces varieties of noble grapes such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, some more than 35 years old.
The totality of each wine type is bottled in the spring to preserve its freshness and character. Hugel production averages 110,000 cases per year, of which about 90 percent are exported to more than 100 countries.
But perhaps it is in Europe where their wines are most popular, especially in Michelin-starred restaurants. They are also highly valued in the official dinners of international organizations, such as the last NATO summit in Strasbourg, Alsace.
With their distinctive yellow labels, Hugel wines express the pure varietal character of grapes that do not allow disguises, sweeteners or unnecessary additions.
The Hugel family pioneered the production of late harvest Alsace wines made with very ripe grapes and selections of grapes affected by a noble fungus, such as the Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles, respectively, and drafted the law that regulates its production.
If you have not yet tasted a Hugel & Fils wine, do not worry: you can find them in the best gourmet stores.
Copyright photos: www.hugel.com. ■