Below is a transcript of the article published in the Hachette Wine Guide 2017:

Sylvain Hertzog, elected winemaker of the year 2017 for Alsace.

  "Wine is above all a balance. It has a backbone which is acidity."  
Sylvain Hertzog, elected "winemaker of the year 2017" by the Guide Hachette des Vins.

Guide Hachette: What distinguishes the Sainte-Cécile cuvée from the rest of your wines?

S. Hertzog: It's a gewurztraminer cuvée with an evolution towards late harvest. When I started twenty-five years ago, we systematically harvested this cuvée on 22 November, the day of Sainte-Cécile, to obtain over-ripe grapes. With climate change, we are obliged to harvest a little earlier. Today, we harvest this cuvée at the beginning of November, or even at the end of October. We keep exotic notes, lychee, and also rose, etc.
Guide Hachette : What are the characteristics of the terroir?

S. H: This cuvée comes from the Bildstoecklé area, even if it is not mentioned on the label. This is a clay-limestone terroir, a former sea bed, with southern and south-eastern exposure. Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer do wonderfully well on this type of soil. We cultivate 3 hectares on this 28 hectare site, which is spread over 4 communes.
What are the main lines of your work?

S. H: Wine is above all a balance. It has a backbone which is acidity. Alcohol and sugar are grafted around it. I always look for a balance between these elements, which does not mean that with the Sainte-Cécile cuvée the ratio is always the same. If a vintage has a higher acidity, we try to stop the fermentation a little earlier to keep more sugar at the expense of alcohol.

Guide Hachette: How is this wine made in the cellar?

S. H: We proceed with a pneumatic pressing of the grapes, then inoculate with controlled yeasts, all in thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks. We continue with a fairly long maturation on the lees, until April-May: this brings fatness. Fermentation is stopped by cooling, or by racking.

Guide Hachette: In the 2014 vintage, the cuvée has 35 grams of sugar per litre: the wine is relatively rich, but not excessive. Did this 2014 vintage finally lend itself well to over-ripening?

S. H: We can say that we succeeded... That's not bad (laughs). It's not easy everywhere. In Alsace, we have a lot of microclimates all along the 140 km of the wine route. We are between the valley of Munster and the valley of Guebwiller. Depending on the conditions of the off-season, either we have fog or it is elsewhere, depending on the wind. We can never generalise in Alsace. You have to compose, work with our terroir and... have a bit of luck...

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