Following the last three posts on contemporary German wines, here is the final piece on my recent visit to the Pflaz, in southern Germany, where I was fortunate enough to be judging at a wine show.
I once found the wines here a little too intellectual and, upon reflection, less than the imminently pleasurable experience I often seek, be it from young wines ready to drink, older wine; or from young wines with the potential for age. I suppose that good wine, at least in my view, should taste good off the bat and also, after age, if it be so destined. I now believe though that I was wrong about Rebholz.
Perhaps, like the scintillating aromas of Cote-Rotie, charged with a tensile rod of acidity and far from the full-weighted Syrahs/Shirazes from elesewhere; or the tautly youthful and sometimes, stringy, Pinot Noirs from Burgundy; these are wines that one simply must become friends with. Acquaintance becomes friendship, and so forth.
These wines are a paradigm of texture. Texture is gained through impeccably selected ripe fruit, extended skin contact (usually around 24 hours) for bite and aromatics; and when deemed appropriate, extended time on lees in a variety of oak formats. These wines boast forceful minerality, freshness and a kaleidoscope of textural nuances that serve as an indelible impression in the mind’s eye.
Moreover, Hansjorg Rebholz’s love of functional aesthetics sees the finest selection of Vitra furniture, including the greatest chairs, of any tasting room in the world.
Pye No. 2006 Blanc de Noir: tight; dark berry fruit; intellectual stimuli of autolysis, acidity and phenolics here; fermented in neutral small barrel; aged for 40 months. Reflects the rigours of the Rebholz style. Intellectual. Invigourating. 90
Weisser Burgunder Trocken 2010: stony, uplifting notes of apple and quince, far beyond the rigour-mortis of most Pinot Blanc. Riveting stuff! 88
Weisser Burgunder Trocken S 2010: richer, more smokily reductive; concentrated and intense yet, perhaps, less the wine in a sense due to the bravado 87
Grauburgunder Trocken S 2010: pear and apple, yes; but the detailed and chiseled nature of these wines is an incredible turn on! This wine is surely too good for Pinot Gris! 90
Im Sonnenschein Weissburgunder 2010 GG: creamy, magnificent and intense. Long and detailed and this is a grape that I once maligned. So precise and more than anything, a different zeitgeist; a different archetype; a different world! Smash my stereotypes! 92
Sauvignon Blanc 2010: clear and mineral-driven. Pungent and no tropical fruit 84
Gewurtztraminer 2010: suitable aromas without ever slipping into either option a. retain acidity thus, pick early. Therefore, lacking viscosity so necessary to varietal expression.
Or option b. pick late=too ripe and thus, flaccid 90
2010 Riesling: divisive style as Rebholz remains. Perhaps too angular, yet one must admire the polarizing nature of these wines as a paean to a voice akin to ‘If you don’t like it, shove it!’ 85
GG Ganzhorn im Sonnenscheim 2009: fermentative simple aromas, but expansive and intense in mouth, without being refined. Bounces around without being long or febrile, as with the other wines. 87
GG Im Sonnenscheim 2009: grapefruit and quince aromas; lovely ripe texture here; with penetrative jingle jangle 93
GG Kastanienbusch 2009: nuts; little about fruit here and all about resinous, tightly melded mineral and fruit weight as a receptor of place; rather than sheer ripeness 97
Steffen Christmann is both a gentleman and
the president of the VDP, the collective of the finest German winemakers striving via, what still remains a convoluted classification system albeit, one that is being honed and simplified constantly to champion wines of place.
2010 practice: long time on skins (24-36 hours)-to increase pH, texture and aromatics on one hand, but also to assist with the precipitation of tartaric acid (as bi-tartrates) due to the calcium content in the skins which binds. Otherwise, as usual: s/less steel for all but Grosses Gewachs. Large ovals for these. Ambient yeast. Fermentation at 22-24 degrees, to facilitate natural yeast work.
2010 Christmann Riesling Pfalz (estate Riesling): broad, peachy and relaxed. Nice entry-level, propelled by lacy acidity 86
NB: Next tier of wines are single village wines
2010 Christmann Konigsbach Riesling (young vines from the renowned Idig GC plot): sandstone, limestone and clay. Peachy-almost Viognier-like aromatic exuberance. Yet then the spice and mineral punch of Riesling kicks in with the wine really dancing and moving down the throat. Very long and intense. Lacy and filigree 90
2010 Christmann Gimeldingen: combination of light alluvial clay, loess and sandstone. Tightly furled palate yet a wet transparency to this wine. Wet as in it makes one’s mouth moist with the pull of acidity and mineral, ready to eat; ready for another glass 88
2010 Christmann Ruppertsberg: sandy soils. A dainty wine of satiny minerality and acid. Mirabelle and smoke; peach and spice. A fine drink yet a wee tad simple. Then again, who wants to drink complex wines all the time? Certainly not me! 86
Premier Cru, or the equivalent thereof, in this next tier
2010 Christmann Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten: lightish, filigreed wine. A dainty dancer; but not a dirty dancer. Pretty! Lacks the intensity of the better sites and slightly, dare I say, thin with a hint of green 84
2010 Christmann Gimeldinger Biengarten: more concentrated wine with none of the astringent bitterness/under-ripeness that mars the previous wine. Leesy and broad with some muscles yet, plenty of sinew and elegance. Great wine this! 93
2010 Christmann Konigsbacher Olberg: ginger and spice. Broad and leesy; lively and energetic yes; but without the pizazz and sheer wonder of the Biengarten 89
Grand Cru / Grosses Gewachs tier
2010 Christmann Reiterpfad GG: closed and yet bristling with intent. The nose offers little except wet stone, yet there is a prodigious force to the air and depth of the wine. Real pedigree as acid/mineral meld and dance into a long finish albeit, not necessarily with the force that the aromas allude to. Time? 88
2010 Christmann Mandelgarten GG: here there is both roundness and fat, balanced by a driving phalanx of wet stone and rock. Moving into the complex terrain of exotic spice and again, as with the general vernacular of the Pflaz, a smoky yellow fruit note/s, on the nose. Very fine 92
2010 Langenmorgen GG: fennel/anise notes, unusual aroma thus far for the Pfalz. This vineyard is on the move UP! Intriguing, incredibly complex and so, so long. Bravo! 95
2010 Idig GG: broad-shouldered wine, yet tensile and rich at the same time. A wine of immense power and yet, a suave coolness all around, hinting at great things to come. The signature wine of this maker 92