The Alsace Vintage Years

Year 2000

A vintage year that will go down in history!

The climate

After a winter with no big surprises, the warm and sunny spring resulted in vine budding around April 20. Thanks to lingering beautiful weather conditions, flowering was extremely early and very quick around June 6 for the whole wine-growing region. At that moment, we were therefore able to record being exceptionally three weeks ahead of time. The month of June was hot and dry, guaranteeing this lead as well as excellent vine health conditions until the beginning of summer.

But of course the more contrasted climatic conditions during the months of July and August with fresher temperatures and some rainfall, sparked off some worries. And it wasn’t unusual to notice here and there some outbreaks of rot as the plant growth slowed down a little. Finally with the return of the sunshine, the grape quality stabilized. Furthermore there were many producers who sensibly undertook bunch-thinning in view of the potential volume.

The harvest

In 1999, after the implementation of new yield limits for AOC Alsace grape varieties, the year 2000 is one for the history books with the effective date for new production rules for AOC Alsace Grand Cru (less yield, recording of minimum alcohol levels, local management of lieux-dits,…).

From a quality point of view, the general harvest health was satisfactory.

The harvest started:

  • September 11 for the Crémant d’Alsace appellation.
  • September 21 for the Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru appellations
  • October 2 for the Vendanges Tardives and Sélections de Grains Nobles indications.

Considering the exceptional ripeness was very much ahead of time, many producers delayed some of their harvest to produce a large amount of Vendanges Tardives (19,000 hl) or Sélections de Grains Nobles (11,000 hl).

The overall harvest volume amounted to 1,210,000 hl including a little over 1,000,000 hl for AOC Alsace, nearly 160,000 hl for AOC Crémant d'Alsace and 50,000 hl for AOC Alsace Grand Cru. The large increase of the latter appellation was due not only to the top vintage year quality but also to the renewed motivation of producers.

The wines

With the excellent levels of ripeness and balance, these wines promise to be both very-well structured and have the fully typicity of their specific grape varieties.

Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois are very fruity, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are generally very concentrated. 2000 is a great vintage year for Riesling which combines freshness and matter.

CIVA: Interprofessional Committee of Alsace Wines
March 2001

Tasting notes

Grand Cru Hengst Riesling 2000 - Josmeyer

The nose is still very young with aromas of citrus fruit and raspberry. The palate is deep, dense, with mineral notes and remarkable purity. It has a deliciously long finish. A noteworthy wine for a vintage year not known for its good Riesling and has great keeping potential. (Last tasted in April, 2010)

Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles S 2000 - Hugel et Fils

A wine with good concentration and total balance (6.5% of alcohol for 295 g/l of residual sugar). If the nose is mesmerising with hints of honey, quince and saffron, the palate is still swept away by incredible flavour and has a fleshy, very sweet texture with the high acidity still not having surfaced. An already-magnificent wine as of now, paired with some old Comté cheese or tangy fruit desserts, but it’s better to keep it away for another ten to twenty years at least. Jean Hugel waited until the beginning of this retirement to realise his dream of producing an excellent sweet Riesling. Those who’ve been lucky enough to taste the Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles 1918 from the estate will most certainly keep some 2000 wines for the generations to come. (Last tasted in August, 2012)

A memorable vintage year due to its round number, but also by the hot weather which helped the grapes become perfectly ripe. The excess heat nevertheless burned a part of the grape acidity, giving balances which were less fresh than in 1999. Most of the wines evolved fairly quickly and should be consumed now. Wines from the great terroirs, as well as the sweet wines produced using rot and not from extended grape- ripening, nevertheless have many years ahead of them, in particular Gewurztraminer.

Thierry MEYER
Wine Instructor, Founder of L’Oenothèque Alsace (independent wine resource centre

The Alsace Vintage Years

There are never two harvests which are alike! Each year, the different climatic conditions impose a natural framework which wine-makers learn to manage. The vintage year transmits these variations into the wine quality perception. It furthermore provides indications for how long it should age once bottled.

Review the last 20 vintage years and those which have entered into the legend of great wines: