The Domaine produces wines from the following Grand Cru classified terroirs:
BRAND in Turckheim, HENGST in Wintzenheim, GOLDERT in Gueberschwihr, RANGEN DE THANN in Thann and in 2010 the Domaine was presented with an opportunity to acquire a small parcel of 0.32ha in the Grand Cru SOMMERBERG in Niedermorschwihr.
Wines from specific lieux-dits include the CLOS WINDSBUHL in Hunawihr, HEIMBOURG, CLOS JEBSAL and HERRENWEG in Turckheim, CLOS HAUSERER and ROTENBERG in Wintzenheim.
Our parcels which are either too small or not classified within these lieux-dit or Grand Cru vineyard sites are used for our “village” level or AOC Alsace wines.
Our annual production varies between 10 000 and 18 000 cases, with an average production of about 16 000 cases. Between 75 and 85% of our wines are exported.
Since 1992, the cellar and offices of Domaine Zind Humbrecht are situated at Route de Colmar, outside Turckheim in the heart of the Herrenweg de Turckheim vineyards.
The Rangen today
The Rangen was classified as a Grand Cru in 1983 and awarded appellation status “Appellation Rangen Grand Cru” in 2011. In 2012 the maximum yield allowed in the Rangen Grand Cru was reduced to 50hl/ha.
The soil structure of this famous locality is a very particular one and absolutely unique in Alsace. Dating from the Carboniferous era (Dévono-dinantien), it is made up of volcanic rocks and sedimentary sandstones with a varying abundance of volcanic elements. It is strewn with stones eroded from hard rocks: grauwackes, volcanic tufa, and a rock flow of brown micaceous andesite. This layer has a thickness of around 40 to 60 cm above the fissured bedrock rock, which allows the vine roots to penetrate to a greater depth and favours a better natural drainage.
This type of terrain and the soil depth characterize a poor environment, low in clay content (15%) and therefore favourable to quality. The dark colour of the soil, a shade of reddish-brown, lends itself to higher soil temperatures.
The full south-facing aspect of the vineyard increases the amount of direct daylight giving the vines a privileged position on the steep Rangen hillside (90% on average), which has dictated the choice of terraced planting. The proximity of the Vosges Mountains, higher rainfall (750mm) and higher altitude of this vineyard relevant to other vineyards in Alsace (350m to 450m above sea level) are important factors which contribute to the late ripening character of this terroir.
In contrast the south facing slopes and exceptional exposition allows the grapes to mature slowly in October and November thus making it possible to achieve very high levels of concentration.
The Grand Cru Rangen de Thann is the most southern vineyard in Alsace, situated at the end of the Route du Vin, quite isolated from the rest of the Alsatian vineyards. The Grand Cru is bordered
The late ripening character of the Rangen results in the potential of achieving great physiological ripeness, which is very important when working with a grape variety like Riesling. Despite a solar topography (steep south facing slopes and warm soils) the ripening process is slow and the harvest late, the harvest date quite often being 2 to 3 weeks after the start of harvest.
The acidic, well-draining, warm soils of the Rangen are very favourable for Riesling, yet more surprisingly are also well suited to the predominantly limestone grown Pinot Gris. The fact that the Rangen naturally yields very small crops, without any manual intervention (green harvesting), adds to the success of Pinot Gris on these slopes.
The poor soils (low in organic matter and topsoil) necessitate high planting density, with the average planting density at 10 000 vines/ha for Domaine Zind Humbrecht at Rangen Thann.
The volcanic soil imprints a specific aromatic character and unique personality to the wines grown on this soil. Flint and smoke are the two descriptors most often associated with the wines from this terroir, highlighting the minerality of the Riesling and the earthiness of Pinot Gris.
The Gewurztraminer Rangen is rare, not only due to the small proportion of vineyard surface, but the cool winds that exit the valley hamper the flowering (coulure) and result in very small crops. Despite these challenging conditions, the Gewurztraminer from Rangen is capable of great expression of the volcanic terroir.
Working in the Rangen
In the Rangen the vines are planted at high densities along the very steep slopes. The vines are trained low, close to the soil to benefit from the warmth of the soil and rock. This warmth is needed by the late ripening terroir to perfectly ripen the grapes at the end of the growing season.
The Rangen is a challenging terroir to work and to maintain. The steep slopes necessitate many small terraces created with dry stone walls, requiring regular repair and maintenance. The impact of erosion and heavy rainfalls can also be significant on this terroir.
The high altitude and cooler climate makes the Rangen more susceptible to the development of powdery mildew, a formidable challenge in certain vintages. Downy mildew is less significant and is kept at bay by the cool winds which exit the valley and the cooler climate linked to the high altitude. As it is not possible to pass with tractors in these vineyards all treatments are carried out manually. Botrytis is not a problem in this vineyard and the late development in certain vintages is sought after to obtain the maturity required for Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles wines.
The working of the soil, an important element for biodynamic viticulture as all herbicides are banned, is done manually with the help of a winch system. In order to prevent competition from other plants and grass on what is already not a very fertile soil; the vineyards are ploughed at least twice per year.
Vines grown in the Grand Cru Rangen deliver very low yields. Despite a high planting density the average yields are less than 30 hl/ha, often between 15 and 25 hl /ha (in vintages 2012, 2010). The low yields being linked directly to the challenging growing conditions and soils led to the decision by the collective of producers of the Rangen to accept maximum yields of 50 hl/ha for Grand Cru wines in 1993.