Remembering Etienne Hugel
Etienne Hugel, the highly admired commercial director for
Famille Hugel (previously Hugel & Fils), died on April 8, at just 57.
I cannot say enough nice things about Etienne and his
family. Not only were his wines some of the greatest I have been fortunate
enough to taste in my life, but the Hugels run a class organization at all
levels. Hugel, one of the truly iconic names in the world of wine,
had in Etienne its most visible, public face, tirelessly promoting the
quality of Hugel's wines, as well as those of Alsace, all over the world.
I had recently exchanged emails with Etienne and so looked
forward to seeing him and the rest of his wonderful family on my upcoming
trip to Alsace. I never missed an opportunity to stop by and say hello on my
two trips a year to that impossibly beautiful corner of France. Time spent
with Etienne, his brothers Jean-Philippe and Marc, and all the family
in postcard-pretty Riquewihr was a moment to cherish.
Etienne graduated from university in commerce, studied
viticulture and enology in Burgundy and worked at wineries in Bordeaux and
California. He returned back to the family property in 1982, becoming in time
commercial director when his generation of the family moved to the forefront at
My thoughts and those of all of us at Vinous are
with Etienne's wife Kaoru, his daughter Charlotte, and his
son Jean-Frédéric, a soft-spoken, gracious, bright young man I had
the enormous pleasure of tasting a fabulous range of Hugel wines with just last
summer. He and his sister represent just part of the 13th generation to work at
Hugel, and they will undoubtedly continue the work of their father with class,
flair, passion and skill. Etienne Hugel may no longer be with us, but his
memory and his great wines will live forever.
-- Ian D’Agata