MEET HÉLÈNE HUTTARD
Maison Jean Huttard is the reflection of a family passion that has been passed down through generations. An independent winegrower in Zellenberg since 1860, our House is rich in its experience, its land acquired and worked over several decades and its commitment to sustainable and ecological viticulture. The new impetus is given by Antoine and Hélène, brother and sister, passionate about local wines, respect for living things and the environment.
Briefly, what does sustainability mean to you?
Ecology is a philosophy, it is part of a whole which is our planet and the world in which we operate. We, Antoine and Hélène, are committed to working the land without negatively impacting the soil, microbial life or the environment. We believe it is about realizing that we are part of a whole, a whole whose balance is very uncertain but where we have our place and where each element has its place. It is obvious to us that our ecosystem must be preserved, this is the hard mission of our career and our lives.
What steps are you taking to be more sustainable in your vineyard and winery?
Our vineyard is managed in organic farming, but this is not an end in itself. We protect our soils by preserving microbial life, so we do not work our soils and we bring maximum wealth to our plant cover. We treat our vines with Bordeaux mixture, with decoctions of plants and essential oils. We do not use any synthetic products, whether in the vineyard or in the cellar. We respect the ecosystem, so we set up nesting boxes. We only mow our vineyard twice a year. Thus we protect small animals (hares, mice, roe deer, hedgehogs, etc.) and our herbs are therefore flowered (bees, sphinxes, bumblebees, butterflies, etc.). The work is mainly manual, only the mowing and the treatments are mechanical. The harvest is 100% manual.
Why did you make the choice to be organic? Are you certified, if not why not?
Our parents worked in the vineyard with the same philosophy, unfortunately, they had not taken the step of certification. It seemed essential to us in our world to be officially differentiated by the label. However, this is not the end, we are doing biodynamic tests and we are working on our carbon footprint.
What do you think the biggest challenge or opportunity will be for winemakers in your region this decade?
Our region has everything to build, everything to create. We are both very involved in our union life, whether it is myself who is president of the Jeunes Vignerons d’Alsace or Antoine who is president of the Zellenberg Viticultural Syndicate. It is a question of integrating our profession into an appellation promotion and maintenance of the intangible heritage that is the wine and the material that is the vine.
Describe your winemaking style.
Our philosophy is to bring the purest grapes to do little or nothing in the cellar. Our activity is therefore distinguished from very intense work outdoors with strict pruning, respect for sap flow, significant selection of buds, manual harvesting according to the maturity of each of our 45 plots and slow pressing. Each vinification is distinguished by respect for the material and the place of origin. We yeast our wines. We only add sulfite if necessary, we do not fine the wines, we do not chaptalize, we only filter if necessary. To put it in a nutshell, we adapt to each vintage.
Which is your favourite grape variety to work with?
Asking an Alsatian for his favourite grape variety is asking him which of his children he prefers! Each will have its strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore a question of knowing how to deal with it. Our favourite for tasting would therefore be the Sylvaner, very delicate and fine.
What would be the perfect food pairing for the wine you’re supplying to BW?
A board of tapas and cheese.
How would you pitch your wine to a customer at a bar or restaurant?
L’effrontée “the cheeky” is unconventional, innovative, insolent and has high environmental values. It testifies to our constant search for innovation, but also the strong attachment we have to our ecosystem and responsible circuits. A dry, fresh and elegant wine, it is the result of a complete and complex reflection.
What do you think is the next big trend in the world of wine?
We believe that tap wines have a large place. It is now a matter of creating the distribution network.