WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

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WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:44 pm

Friday was the GWS tasting in Boston. Thanks again to Charles & Glenna for hosting, and to Ken Mason of Classic Wines in Boston for dropping off a bottle to add to the festivities!

Dry Wines:
2001 Donnhoff Sclossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spatlese Trocken (Nahe)
2002 Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spatlese Trocken (Rheingau)

It's not often that Helmut Donnhoff loses a head-to-head tasting, but it happened here. The Donnhoff was very linear and focused, with lots of minerality and light, peachy fruit, but The Leitz was significantly richer, while being equally focused. It also had more fruit and was ever so easy to drink. In fact the Leitz was in my top four for the evening.

The 2001s
2001 Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)
2001 Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)

Just checking in to see if these were still shut down. It looks like it may soon be open season. The Meulenhof was initially very closed, but after about 15 minutes it developed petrol, slate and apple aromas and flavors, as well as showing significant depth. It still needs time (maybe 2 more years), but it is getting there. The Loosen was more open from the outset (I tend to believe that Loosen wines never shut down), with cherry and peach fruit, as well as iron and spice. There was also a lovely creaminess to the Loosen. This flight goes to the Loosen.

The 1997s
1997 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)
1997 J. J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)

We did these same wines in kabinett form earlier in the year, and they were a dissapointment. Not this time. The Prum was still kinda stinky, but underneath was rich fruit, solid acids and fantastic balance. This wine still has lots of positive development ahead of it. The Schaefer on the other hand was a stone monument. It smelled like rocks and tasted like rocks. Delicious! There was some apple fruit in there as well, but the extreme minerality was fantastic. I liked this flght a lot. Two more of my top four here.

The 2004s
2004 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Spatlese (Rheinhessen)
2004 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)

First things first, the Gunderloch was so reductive as to be impossible to judge. At the end of the tasting it started to come out of its shell and show rich fruit and warm stone, but when it was originally served it smelled like a tire. This is the third time I have had an unacceptably reductive 2004 Gunderloch. I don't think they quite get the screwcap thing, despite being one of the pioneers in Germany. So the Lieser wins this flight on a TKO, but it's also a delicious wine, with classic apple, cream and slate, and very good balance. I like the brightness of the 2004 Rieslings, and I think they will always be refreshing, which is good in these days of runaway ripeness.

The 2005s
2005 von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Spatlese (Saar)
2005 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese* (Mosel)

Boy the von Hovel is good. I've never tasted such a rich spatlese from the Saar. Clearly 2005 was good to this region. Lime, apple & stone on the nose and palate, with fantastic balance and ripeness. Note also that this was another screwcapped wine and not reductive at all. Clealry they know how to deal with screwcaps as von Hovel. The Kerpen was the same as the last time I tasted it in September. It's a very friendly wine, but a touch soft for my taste. It's got tropical aromas and flavors, as opposed to the tree fruit I normally expect in Mosel Riesling. I would rpefer a little more focus. The von Hovel was the clear winner here, and my Wine of the Night.

The bottle left on the doorstep...
1997 Schloss Schonborn Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Riesling Spatlese (Rheingau)
I wonder if this had any botrytis, as it was much more honeyed than and other wine this night, as well as richer and sweeter on the palate than most. Honey, peach, apricot and beeswax on the nose and a sweet, almost sugary sensation on the palate. This was really more like an auslese.

The non-Rieslings
2000 Muller-Catoir Mussbacher Eselhaut Rieslaner Spatlese (Pfalz)
2000 Muller-Catoir Haardter Mandelring Scheurebe Spatlese (Pfalz)

The Rieslaner was like no other bottle of this I had ever tasted. It really showed kind of dirty. Prior bottles had been all pink grapefruit and topical notes. Perhaps an off bottle. The Scheurebe was mango through and through. Good acids, balanced sweetness, and just a joy to drink. A lovely final wine that erased the bad memories of the Rieslaner.

So that was it. Thoughts from the peanut gallery...Bill...Charles...Michael...
Last edited by David M. Bueker on Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:49 pm

Wow, Bill hinted in an email about his evening of Spatlese. Lucky bunch!! Will have to digest notes later, marinading meats for rodeo shing digs!!
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Bill Hooper » Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:25 am

What a night -Thanks for the notes David!


Prost!
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Charles Weiss » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:26 am

Thanks again for organizing a nice tasting, David. The notes are all the more impressive given that they were done entirely from memory IIRC--kids, don't try this at home.

My favorites:

I liked the Leitz a lot. It was certainly dry but very rich and expressive.

The Meulenhof was pretty closed but I'd bet on it for the longer haul, and the Loosen was very nice and showing better now, complete with some faint strawberry cream.

The 97 Prum is still young, but will be very pretty. As you said, it is beautifully balanced. . The dregs of both it and the 2002 version of the same bottling, that Bill Schuler brought as a warmup wine, were very pretty last night.

The von Hovel had also emerged from under some sulfur and was delicious last night, even better than it showed on Friday.

I greatly enjoyed the M-C Scheurebe, though it was not up to other vintages in my experience (1998, 2001, 1994 I'd say in that order).

The 1997 Scloss Schonborn Pfaffenberg from Ken Mason (thanks again Ken) was also one of my favorites. I think it was showing itself more completely than most of the others at this time.

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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Bill Buitenhuys » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:59 am

I'd like to ditto thanks to David for pulling this night together and giving us some good educational nuggets along the way. Also thanks to Charles and Glenna for putting up with all of us.

My highlights
2002 Leitz trocken - I really could get hooked on trocken spatlese with wines like this one. The Donnhoff was pretty shy in comparison.

2001 Loosen - I'm a fan of Loosen Wurgarten as I love that red fruit, creamy, spice. I also typically like Meulenhof and as Charles said, this one has alot of promise.

Somewhere around this time, the notion of "slate as an aphrodisiac" was raised...hmmm.

The '97 Schaefer was superb. Yup, lots of rocks, but such great depth and balance.

I wasnt a fan of either from the '04 flight. The Lieser had this odd asparagus, tin can note while the Gunderloch was just weird.

The von Hovel made me forget both of them. That wine is just so bright and so crisp. Loved it. Not so much with the Kerpen that I also found a bit soft. Very flavorful, but soft.

The Schoenborn was also quite interesting and yummy. Ya, it did seem like it had a hint of botrytis but had very good balance.

Rieslaner..yup, it had an essence of a fresh dime bag and the scheurebe was really pretty in comparison.

Great stuff and a really fun night.
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:58 am

Bill Buitenhuys wrote:
Somewhere around this time, the notion of "slate as an aphrodisiac" was raised...hmmm.



I had forgotten about that. The whole thing about slate earrings and National Geographic...
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Michael Malinoski » Mon Oct 30, 2006 6:28 pm

Well, here goes from the peanut gallery...

First off, thanks so much to David for organizing this and being our guide through these wines. It was both highly educational and lots of fun. Just like David's tasting notes!

And thanks to Charles and Glenna for a wonderful job hosting us all.

I'm not sure my opinions were wholly in line with David's or with Bill's but for the most part, there was a lot of agreement.

Dry Wines:
2001 Donnhoff Sclossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spatlese Trocken (Nahe)
2002 Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spatlese Trocken (Rheingau)


I agree with David that the Leitz was not only richer in its bass notes, but seemed to have more drive and more character than the Donnhoff, which also had a bit of an austere finish to it. And I concur with Bill's sentiment that the Donnhoff seemed shy by comparison, with its soft bouquet of lemon curd, chalk and minerals and a soft peach and mineral flavor profile. The bouquet on the Leitz was somewhat unique, like a fresh herb garden and white pepper, but the body and richness of the fruit in the mouth carried the day. Still, neither of these were in my top wines of the night.

The 2001s
2001 Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)
2001 Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)


I was about 15 minutes behind everyone else most of the night (not surprising to those who taste with me!), so when I put the Meulenhof to my nose, it was already much more open than I had heard others talking about. For me, it was a top 3 wine of the night, with a classic nose of petrol, lemon peel, pear and minerality. I thought it showed great presence on the entry and good solid body through the middle before dropping off to a clipped finish. I have high hopes that within a few short years, it will gain in length and show more completely. The Loosen was pleasant and creamy, with spun sugar, slate and soft red fruits in the mouth and a very clean finish. Very good potential, but I preferred the Meulenhof both now and for the future.

The 1997s
1997 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)
1997 J. J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)


The Schaefer was another top 3 wine of the night for me. David nailed it with the stone monument comment. It sounds crazy, but my notes at various points mention pebbles, minerals, powdery minerals, quartz...you get the picture. Sometimes a wine shows generic minerality and sometimes it shows several facets of minerality. Such is this wine. It also has nice delineation in the mouth with apple and pear flavors, good richness, but a nice crispy finish. The Prum had a full nose of petrol, fennel, slate and sulfur and a palate of sulfur, minerals and pink fruit. I found only moderate acidity, but agree on the rich fruit and obvious upside.

The 2004s
2004 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Spatlese (Rheinhessen)
2004 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel)


Ok, so setting aside the reductive issues, I felt the Gunderloch showed solid density and intensity in the mouth. The finish was a bit too sweet at this point, but I say give this wine a chance. The Lieser was very clear-colored and I can see Bill's view on asparagus and tin, but for me it was more like a zingy skunky leafy and mineral character. Once you get past that, it has a nice mouthfeel and that clean zippy refreshing finish character David alluded to.

The 2005s
2005 von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Spatlese (Saar)
2005 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese* (Mosel)


I liked the von Hovel's fresh vibrant nose of apple skin, chalk and stones, as well as its solid structure and density in the mouth. It managed to have a certain airiness and balance to it, as well. I found the finish long but not as fully focused as the rest of the wine. This latter characteristic was something it shared in common with the Kerpen. Otherwise, I felt the Kerpen showed "flavorful but soft" as Bill put it. David is right about the tropical fruit character of this wine, with pineapple and citrus, hay and white flowers on the nose. It is a bit chunky in the mouth right now, with a somewhat oily texture, but it has nice density and flavor in the midpalate before losing some focus on the finish. Both wines, with time, ought to be really nice.

The bottle left on the doorstep...
1997 Schloss Schonborn Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Riesling Spatlese (Rheingau)

Thanks to Ken for making a gift of this. It was in my top 3 wines of the night. It really stood out with its nose of wax, botrytis and honey, its full-ish body and its lovely flavors. It left a bit of a sugary impression on the finish, but its mature profile (compared to the other '97's, especially) was very nice.

The non-Rieslings
2000 Muller-Catoir Mussbacher Eselhaut Rieslaner Spatlese (Pfalz)
2000 Muller-Catoir Haardter Mandelring Scheurebe Spatlese (Pfalz)


I'll admit openly to liking the Rieslaner more than other folks. It had a nose of peaches and figs, with a very fleshy mouthfeel, good drive and a spicy fleshy finish. I didn't find the "dirty" profile or the dime bag aromas(unfortunately) that others did. David may be right that it was an "off" bottle that showed differently than his past experience, but I would not have concluded this just trying this for the first time. In comparison, I found the nose on the Scheurebe rather reserved, but there was good density and mango fruit there and better overall balance than in the Rieslaner. Interesting and a fitting finale.

Again, thanks to David and everyone else for a lovely evening!

Michael
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Charles Weiss » Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:00 pm

I'm not sure my opinions were wholly in line with David's or with Bill's but for the most part, there was a lot of agreement.


Hey, what am I, chopped liver? :lol:
That's a rhetorical question by the way.

Nonetheless, I think you got most of them right.
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Michael Malinoski » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:00 pm

Sorry, Mr. Liver! It was the evil cut and paste job from a posting "elsewhere" that caused the slight! Lazy lazy...

By the way, I would have liked to have tried that von Hovel with you the next day, Charles--glad to hear it improved even more.

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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:09 pm

Classic "other end of the table" situation, which is why I try to elicit responses from folks on the wines. The group on Friday was especially quiet (everyone tired like me?), so getting more than grunts out of you was tough.

I wish we would talk about the wines more as a group, but it rarely happens.
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby Michael Malinoski » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:23 pm

Next time I'll bring more glasses and try to keep up, so I can contribute in real time more. Then you won't be able to shut me up--be careful what you wish for!
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Oct 31, 2006 9:03 am

Michael Malinoski wrote:Next time I'll bring more glasses and try to keep up, so I can contribute in real time more. Then you won't be able to shut me up--be careful what you wish for!


Bring it on! :twisted:
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Re: WTN: German Wine Society Does Spatlese

Postby JC (NC) » Thu Nov 02, 2006 7:05 pm

Thanks all for your notes. I will print it out to use as reference when purchasing German wines. I think I have two or three of those on hand already--the Leitz and possibly the Von Hovel. My Schlossbockelheimer might be the 2002.
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