So it’s early November, still sunny and warm in the Bay Area, and I once again saunter into Pier 19 for some Saturday Riesling.
I start with the 2005 Schloss Vollrads Kabinett halbtrocken, which is a nice piece of mouthrinse, racy, sour, tactile, and juicy, a very fun wine for starting events. But, I am quickly drawn to the Older Offerings, where the 1993 E. Muller Scharzhofberger Auslese is the shining star of the group. An elegant firm jewel from the moment the cork is pulled and still revving on all engines several hours later. Floats in the mouth. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.
The 1990 E. Muller Wiltinger Braunekupp Auslese is a bit more difficult upon opening, needing air to firm up and come together, but eventually it does, and the spicy sour light firm show is very very enjoyable, if not up to the high-wire level of the 93 Scharzhofberger.
Rounding out the trio is the 1973 Kloster Eberbach Rauenthaler Baiken Eiswein BA, curious labeling if I’ve ever seen it, but I guess the two categories went together. And, from the look and smell you can tell it is filled with all the rich dried apricots you could want. However, it lacks the concentration and the verve of the Muller wines, and even though it too pulls itself together over several hours, it does not impress, although it is enjoyable and I’d be more than happy to have the ability to casually open bottles like this at home.
So, things are starting well. But now time to get down to the show at hand.
And returning to the 2005 Schloss Vollrads Kabinett halbtrocken it tastes as lovely and fun as before. If only I had unlimited space for buying wine. The 2005 Schloss Vollrads QbA is less fun, spicier and rounder sure, but the flavors are not as interesting and the texture does not have the same racy joy.
The 2005 von Hovel Scharzhofberger Kabinett is a very interesting wine, so rich and heavy for its pradikat, even more so than the Vollrads kabinetts or spatleses, which is curious. The acids are a bit buried at the moment, which robs this of the delicacy seen in the higher pradikat wines from von Hovel. At least for the moment. You know how these things change.
In comparison, the 2005 Grans-Fassian Estate QbA is a no-brain-required slurp of fun. Firm, racy, nothing too serious. The 2005 Grans-Fassian Piesporter Kabinett is a bit more serious, and obviously has better material, but is still operating in that firm juicy racy no-brain-required un-profound register. These have their place, if not in my cellar.
The 2005 Schloss Vollrads Kabinett impresses a bit less than the halbtrocken, sour, racy, and tactile fun, but without the same verve-y snap that made the halbtrocken jump. At least for now. Taste them again in two months and I’m liable to say the opposite.
Similarly, I was hard pressed to pick a favorite among the Schonborn kabinetts. The 2005 Schonborn Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Kabinett was showing the most rustic earth to compliment the juicy fun, while the 2005 Schonborn Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Kabinett was showing more of its sugar with a forward glistening note, and the 2005 Schonborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Kabinett was showing the most balanced crystal acid jewels and full juicy fruit. Perhaps the Marcobrunn was the most regal of the three, perhaps not, and with each under $18, if I were a different man I would have purchased them all for the cellar to watch the evolution.
The 2005 von Hovel Scharzhofberger Spatlese was a very interesting wine, rich and lacquered but fresh and fine. Curiously enough it did not feel richer than the kabinett, but it was showing better acid structure, which made it the superior wine today, and at only $19.50 it was fabulously well priced. If only I could store all this stuff!
At this point I take a break from the 2005s before things get too sugary, and the 2003 Solter Rheingau Brut Sekt Rosé enters my palate, for better or worse, as it is a full-on dose of dirt, funk, earth, and vineyard tastes, followed by some bright crisp fruit on the finish if you look hard enough. But, I’m not really in the mood for lookin’. Especially when I can pour the 2004 Donnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Spatlese Halmond (Auction), which is a joy. Just smelling the sucker you can tell that it is weightless elegance at its finest, and then on the palate it continues with light fresh intense nuts (what a taste descriptor!), clear and crystal but deep and pure. Nice stuff. Not sure if it convinces me for $60, but I’m damn happy to continue pouring this into my glass.
Ok, back to the 2005 Schloss Vollrads Spatlese, which was a sweet little ball of candy, and Walt Nissen was surprised that I actually liked it. But I did, as it was sweet and intense without being cloying, although the simple easy fun was nothing I wanted to take home with me.
Same for the 2005 Grans-Fassian Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese, which was soft sweet, spongey, fun, racy, Auslese wine, but of course nothing serious or profound.
The 2005 Schonborn Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Spatlese is a very nice wine on a table with even nicer wines, because it showed nice crisp small-scale semi-classic spatlese notes, but then the 2005 Schonborn Pfaffenberg Jubilaumswein is more impressive with more thickness but also more racy vibrancy, a real slushy fresh fun drink of wine.
Of course the 2005 Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Spatlese was going to impress, coming on full-bore into the mouth but with minty mineral flecks and a nice liveliness. Plenty of fun to be had here.
The wine of the tasting for me however was the 2005 von Hovel Kanzemer Horecker Auslese Goldkapsel, which flies out of the glass with a heavy rich nose and then floats across the mouth with such clear delicate elegance. My companion says “it’s like drinking oxygen” and he means that in a good way. I remember tasting the 05 Auslese ** Goldkapsel from this vineyard with Claude Kolm and Larry Stein, and it didn’t quite stand up to the other Oberemmeler Huttes and Scharzhofbergers we were tasting that today. But on this day, the Kanzemer Horecker Auslese Goldkap is a stunning monument to the combination of intense creamy fruit and light ethereal elegance that can be found in the Saar in 2005. And at $71 a bottle Dee Vine sells more of this wine today than any other.
The 2005 Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Auslese is of course a lovely wine, rich, ponderous, firm, lush, and layered, with the acid structure to provide poise. But it doesn’t soar and expand one’s mental horizons the same way as the Kanzemer Horecker. And for that it doesn’t quite measure up. On this day.
Eventually I see a slew of Champagnes being opened, the 2000 Dehours Extra Brut, the 2002 Dehours Blanc de Pinot Noir Extra Brut, the 2002 Dehours Les Genevraux Extra Brut, and several other NVs. They are all foamy and good, but after return sips to all my favorite rieslings above, I’m not in the most critical of mindsets, and it’s best to start walking…