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Uncorked: Olivier Humbrecht MW

In 1989 Humbrecht took over as chief winemaker at the famous Alsace producer – Domaine Zind Humbrecht, and also became France’s first MW. In 2012 he won the Lifetime Achievement award in the drink business Green Awards.

What Vintage are you? 

1963 Not a good year in France, thank god I love Port….

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

I can’t remember I was too young. I only remember that if my grandfather sent me to the cellar for a last bottle of wine at the end of a meal, I would go for the Gewürztraminer Hengst 1967. He used to describe the wine as ‘sunshine in the glass’.

Ambition or talent – what matters more?

Ambition I guess? If you can’t do it yourself, you can always find someone who will do it for you, but if there is no ambition or dream, nothing happens.

What would you be as a wine?

Whatever, I don’t know, something good for sure but at least an Alsace jeroboam in size!

Where are you happiest?

Two places: at the bottom of the cellar where nothing can reach you and on Oldany Island in North West Scotland (almost for the same reason).

What’s your greatest vice?

Maybe I eat and drink too much…  

Best advice you ever got?

From my wife: ‘Listen to me!’

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

I would probably try to save too many and wouldn’t be able to resurface. However, the one I would save for sentimental reasons would be a Gewürztraminer 1959 made by my father Léonard. We only have one bottle and I never tried it.

What’s the best & worst thing about the wine business?

Travelling to great places and meeting great people …. travelling to horrible places and meeting geeks.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)

Being where I am today and knowing it isn’t finished…

Desert island vine?

Pffff, I hate these depressing questions! I’d need to know the terroir of this damned island in order to answer adequately. I just hope there would be an old volcano with a nice slope on it and not too hot for Riesling ….

Which wine would you like served at your funeral?

We opened 240 bottles of Muscat Goldert 1990 at my grandfather, Zenon Humbrecht’s funeral in 2001. I think I’d like to continue the tradition. Damn, you just made me realise I need to put some wine aside!


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