Last month I spent a few hours tasting through the 2008s (plus a few other vintages) with Laurence Faller at Domaine Weinbach. This was a marvelous experience, and Laurence was extraordinarily tolerant of my incessant questioning (and the length of my stay!). She shared many thoughts on the 2008 vintage, especially vis-à-vis the 2007 vintage. During this interview, Laurence also told me about some changes in the biodynamic certification requirements (specifically those for Demeter, which will be fodder for a future post) and how they are likely to affect Weinbach. As for the wines? They were absolutely radiant. Read on:
2008 Sylvaner Réserve (*)
Beautiful fruit-draped acids that power the wine--a long sensibility...i.e., not spritzy but not fat (as some are lately)
2008 Pinot Blanc Réserve (*)
Fascinating and vivid--aroma is actually well-delineated (uncommon in Pinot Blanc but the high Auxerrois content--70%--gives the fragrance clarity), lemon curd and graham. A dynamite wine, would be very useful thanks to its relatively prominent zing.
2008 Riesling Réserve Personnelle (?)
Edgy...edgy...jumpy is perhaps a better descriptor. Boy do I recognize this kind of Riesling--but it's not in focus yet. This needs to settle down, the brittleness factor is quite high. In a year this will have calmed down (or it usually does), so I'll revisit it then.
2008 Riesling Cuvée Théo (**)
From the old vines in the Clos des Capucins--where the preceding wine was jumpy, this one is very tight and closed off. After ten minutes of swirling while Laurence was hunting for something, a marmalade aroma emerged--lime marmalade, with shortbread and shale. Flavors never really relaxed, but this has never, never been a wine for early consumption (except perhaps '03). Get six of this one for the cellar.
2008 Riesling Schlossberg (**)
Beautiful, tense, and yet very friendly. Not in a welcoming way...more like someone waving hello as they drive past. Great mysterious character, tactile yet tensile.
2007 Riesling Cuvée Ste.-Cathérine (**+)
Blooming and more giving--more inclusive and warmly receiving than the preceding wine. Such a grand expression--a principle character difference between 2008 and 2007.
2008 Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Ste.-Cathérine (**)
A glorious wine to experience, despite its current austerity. Rocky minerality and fruit tinged by orange pekoe. This is really lovely.
2007 Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Ste.-Cathérine (**)
This is a roomier wine than the '08. Again the feeling of greater personal warmth is the difference. Oddly, I don't prefer this to the other. I might prefer to use them differently, but the charms of each are unique enough that they don't merit much more than an academic comparison.
2008 Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Ste.-Cathérine «l'Inédit» (**+)
Yowza! Fatter, inspiring, mind-alerting flavors. This is really a serious wine. Its residual sugar is minimal this year, but it still maintains the richer style. All of this within the sleeve of the '08 vintage, so more lithe than the 2007s are.
2008 Pinot Gris Cuvée Ste.-Cathérine (**)
Extraordinary depth for this cuvée--I wonder if 2008 has favored Pinot Gris? We'll see.... Elegant wine, yet it is easy-to-get-into (i.e., not slutty). Wonderful golden fruit flavors and the color has the barest trace of pinkish-grey to the golden hue.
2008 Pinot Gris Altenbourg (**)
Amazing zing of acidity, long and lovely wine with exceptional extraction and depth, hinted at by the beautiful color. A great Altenbourg.
2008 Gewurztraminer Cuvée Théo (*)
This wine is dry, without bitterness. Makes my mouth water--more of the rose petal than litchi nut aroma, as the aroma, while grand, comes off as rather delicate (for Gewurz). Wonderful rosemary-like savory notes dominate the floating finish.
2008 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg (**)
More opulent than the Théo, and is more oriented toward litchi nut spiciness. Has a lifted essence, a moving trait. It makes me happy.
2005 Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives (***)
Speaking of moving...this is more moody though. What a feisty wine--acidity is excellent, spicy...there is an orange zest element here, along with rosehips and raspberry leaf tea. Sugar is seamlessly part of this one. This fits in the why wait to drink category, though I'm sure another five years would be rewarding.
2007 Riesling Schlossberg Sélection de Grains Nobles (***)
Glorious resplendence, yet an introspective essence suffuses the experience. How can you beat Riesling in this form when it is made this well?
2007 Gewurztraminer Mambourg Sélection de Grains Nobles (***)
The Fallers recently acquired holding in this Grand Cru is used expressly (so far) for late harvest wines. What a sensuous wine. Hard to imagine Gewurztraminer being even more exotic than it usually is, but this wine smells like I should have it while walking through the spice section of a Moroccan souk. Fabulous flavor, maintains a luscious zip throughout. What an intense and yet amicable wine!
2005 Pinot Gris Altenbourg Quintessence de Grains Nobles Cuvée d'Or (***)
This certainly deserves the doubly specific designation (Quintessence being better than Sélection, and «Cuvée d'Or» being a sub-selection of the Quintessence!) on the label. I'm running out of energy to care about scribbling superlatives, this wine has so much of my attention. It might make you feel as though you are lying in the hay with a lover, after...well, you know what I mean. Now, back to the wine!
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