This extremely steep vineyard overlooks the village of Thann (the banner photograph of this site was taken from Rangen--that steeple on the left is the Cathedral of St.-Thiébaut). The Thur river runs at the base of the vineyard, and as the vineyard rises up at a dizzying 70° angle, one is easily reminded of photographs of the Mosel. That is where the comparison ends, however, because the wines from Rangen are typically much more powerful. Rangen is a naturally great Grand Cru. Even in poor vintages, the wines from this vineyard still manage to be excellent. Rangen collects heat readily, yet it is an inherently cool vineyard. As a result its ripening period is long and steady: it remains one of the latest blooming and latest ripening vineyards in Alsace. It faces south, is mostly terraced and possesses soil made up of various volcanic rocks.
Resuscitating a Great Vineyard
Wines from Rangen have been revered since the twelfth century, but tending and harvesting vines at such a steep angle is difficult and expensive, and of course soil erosion is a yearly problem. The Sisyphean labor involved with managing this vineyard eventually led to disuse and if it weren't for the work of Léonard Humbrecht, Rangen might still be covered with little more than withered vines and underbrush. M. Humbrecht purchased the Clos St.-Urbain within Rangen in the early 1970s and proceeded make dazzling wines. These wines were difficult to ignore, of course, so others acquired and/or revived old parcels in the remainder of the vineyard. Even so, for at least fifteen years, the wines Zind-Humbrecht crafted from Rangen were the class of the Grand Cru, but Domaine Schoffit has continuously elevated the quality and consistency of the cuvées from their parcel in Rangen, and their wines are indeed great.
Wines and Producers of Rangen
Rangen is known for favoring Pinot Gris, historically, and current producers of Rangen wines have a long track record of strong Pinot Gris. Gewurztraminer also emerges from this hillside with beautiful wine, but Riesling is the show-stopper for me--there are only a handful of other vineyard sites that yield Riesling of such complexity. Only two producers who craft wines from Rangen are currently available in the U.S. with any regularity. Zind-Humbrecht, who got the Rangen revolution started, produces extraordinary examples of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling from their monopole within Rangen, the Clos St.-Urbain. Domaine Schoffit produces the same varieties from their monopole of Clos St.-Théobald.
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