1997 Wittmann Westhofener Steingrube Albalonga Auslese (Rheinhessen)
Albalonga (no, not the ancient, central Italian city) is the bastard child of Rieslaner and Silvaner, which makes it a double bastard child since Rieslaner is a bastard child of Riesling and Silvaner. If it does anything really well, it gets ripe! In the hands of Phillip Wittmann it gets ripe but not so crazy-ass ripe that it loses its acidity.
A 9 year old bottle with virtually zero ullage (classic German overfill), lovely bright yellow color.
The aromas run to the non-grape, with pine needles, mint, boxwood and only after that a rush of pineapple and other tropical fruits. It's fresh and lively on the palate, showing some surprisingly uppity acidity (especially for a '97) that speaks to its Rieslaner heritage. The flavors are integrated in the way of a tropical fruit salad with a healthy mint garnish. Sweet, but not too sweet to drink with a meal, there's also a long finish with a pleasing bitterness (sort of a ripe grapefruit bitterness) to finish it off and keep the sweetness in check. The overall package just begs the next sip.
Is Albalonga for everyone? Gee I hope not, as there is not that much of it. But if you like your wine a little on the wild side then this might be the grape for you.
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.