Hitting the High Notes: Alsace’s Hugel Gentil

Thanks to their bright, clean flavours Alsatian wines have long been a safe pick for anyone looking to pair a good white wine with Southeast Asian foods. In the Hugel Gentil available at Khéma you’ll find a wine that serves as a perfect introduction to Alsatian wines, thanks to its production method which brings together the “suave, spicy flavour of Gewürztraminer, the structure of Pinot Gris, the finesse of Riesling, the grapiness of Muscat and the refreshing character of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner”.

What does all this mean? The name Gentil dates back to the 1920s and is reserved for a method of producing blended AOC (“Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) Alsace wines that fulfil the established standards. The blend must consist of at least 50% Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and/or Gewürztraminer, and the rest can be either Sylvaner, Chasselas or Pinot Blanc. Each variety used in the blend must individually qualify as an AOC Alsace wine, ensuring that the blend retains its integrity, which may be why it has been coming back into fashion lately.

A bottle of HUGEL, Gentil - 2014
A bottle of HUGEL, Gentil – 2014

Alsatian wines tend to be dry to off-dry, and this one is no exception. Described by one industry reviewer, who awarded Gentil Hegel nine out of ten stars, this is “a supple, bright and juicy white wine”, with a medium body, fresh fruit and florals aromas, and a long, dry, mineral finish on that palate, making it a perfect match for seafood, chicken and pork dishes, sushi and vegetarian dishes. Another industry reviewer says “this is a joyful dry white that’s brimming with fruit aromas, from pears to lychee to flowers”.

As a white then, this wine seems to almost have it all in fact. Gentle enough to drink on its own, or as an aperitif, but robust enough to enjoy through the entire course of a meal. According to Kaoru Hugel, the Japanese wife of the last Etienne Hugel, this wine “goes very well with any food, especially Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai, you don’t really have to think about it”. It also works perfectly to cut through the richer flavours of French food, especially pork, chicken, and very especially seafood.

You’ll find Hugel Gentil available for dining in at Khéma, or why not pick up a bottle to enjoy at home?

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