Sad news yesterday of the sudden death of Etienne Hugel, aged 57.
The wine press has been full of rightly praiseworthy obituaries of this charming man, and I will not add to them by much, save to say that 14 years ago in 2002, Etienne was my sponsor for L’Ecole d’Alsace, a long running trade initiative hosted once a year by several high profile Alsace producers. Six of us from the UK were lucky to be invited that year, including three who went on to become Masters of Wine.
It was a week of serious study, with Maison Hugel in the chair, so Etienne, and his co-conspirator Jean Trimbach were much in evidence each day, guiding us through vineyards, winery visits, many tastings and also some memorable meals, culminating with, after an examination, a very fine meal at l’Auberge de L’Ill at Illhaeusern , in all its 3 star glory.
From then on, we remained firm friends, and I re-visited Riquewihr not too long after to meet up with Etienne and also collect an order for several cases of various magnums of Hugel wines, all hand filled, to take back to Ransome’s Dock for our lucky customers pleasure.
This was a man very much in love with his work, his heritage and the future too, and I’m sure we will all remember him with huge affection for a very long time.