Unlocking the Kabinett

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Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:04 pm

There has been a lot of discussion in the press about Mosel Kabinett over the years, so I decided to delve into the topic.

Kevin Goldberg asks, "I’m curious as to where you would like to see the term 'Kabinett' go in the future. Do you think it should be standardized in terms of specific Oechsle, sugar, and alcohol levels? Or perhaps we should simply let chaos reign…as it certainly has for a very long time in the German wine trade?"

The veteran wine critic David Schildknecht comments, too, and so does Andrew Bair and Bill Hooper.

What are your thoughts? I gave them mine.

Second part of my two-part article on "Unlocking the Kabinett." Both articles are free, as I want this topic and discussion in the open. http://www.larscarlberg.com/unlocking-t ... continued/
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:11 pm

I have already printed off both articles and am going to spend some time reading them on the weekend. I am sure there will be some thoughts about the "chaos".
There have been some interesting discussion about Kabinett down at the winestore, especially peoples perception of "sweetness" and of course acidity. :wink:
As I have said elsewhere (whisper), I am a recent fan of the trocken style.
Lars I see you have a discussion going on over there in the UK, you will get lots of comments and friendly thoughts from that lot!!
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:03 pm

Thanks, Bob. I appreciate your interest and kind words. By the way, David Schildknecht has just posted another great reply to my article. There's a thread on my site, as well, with some more details in regard to Kabinett.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:40 pm

Yup, I read that and very informative. Your two articles have hit the spot with various folks and I look forward to all their thoughts.
My general concern is that many wine buyers find German wines "too sweet" and hence move on to other choices. Guess I have been there on this forum so will not add fire to the smouldering ruins :mrgreen:
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:38 am

It's very hard to deal with the sweetness issue in isolation. One factor is that with the higher ripeness there becomes a trend to higher sweetness in the sweet wines, owing at least somewhat to balance issues. Focusing on trocken/halbtrocken wines can certainly deal with this, but I know from experience that i have poured trockens for people who still complained "too sweet" because they did not get the difference between sweetness and fruit! Heck, I have done the same thing, with the same result of "too sweet" with bone dry Austrian Riesling, so it's not just a German wine issue.

As for kabinett - it's still possible to find 7.5% alcohol, light as a feather wines, but they take more searching than they used to. Nothing (and I mean nothing) is a better drink on a warm spring afternoon.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:47 am

Referring to David Schildknecht's most recent comments, I agree that 2002, 2004 and 2008 have offered some lovely kabinett wines, that while high in ripeness, still display the admirable qualities of the kabinett concept.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Tim York » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:43 am

David M. Bueker wrote:As for kabinett - it's still possible to find 7.5% alcohol, light as a feather wines, but they take more searching than they used to. Nothing (and I mean nothing) is a better drink on a warm spring afternoon.


I couldn't agree more.

I dearly wish that the term "Kabinett" could be reserved in the Mosel valley and tributaries, at least, for wines with this ambition, as used largely to be the case. Alas there is no maximum oechsle limit for the various prädikat categories on the mistaken assumption, encouraged by certain critics, that extra weight and sugar equate with higher quality. Hence my growing mistrust of these categorisations. (However, my coming festive TNs will reveal some admirably elegant Spätlesen and Auslesen so all is not yet lost, even in those categories.)

Like Bob, I need to study Lars' articles more closely, but my first superficial impression is that they highlight once again the growing confusion in the German wine labelling scene :evil: . VDP has no doubt some admirable intentions (e.g. the Burgundy model) but seems unable to resist continual tweaking, growers seem also to be branching out with new wine names and conflict between their practices and our carefully learned knowledge of the 1971 wine law terminology seems to be growing. Rationalisation and stability is urgently needed to regain consumer comprehension and confidence.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:17 pm

As I've discussed with David Schildknecht on his last visit here and more recently via email, the main issue is that the VDP only wants sweet Kabinett. Should we keep then this 1971 Wine Law term for only this style? How can we highlight the light dry and off-dry wines?

If we go back to Kevin Goldberg's question, which starts this thread as well as the one on my site, how would you define the Prädikat Kabinett in the future?
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:22 pm

Tim, I posted before seeing your note. Both you and David make some excellent points.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Kelly Young » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:25 pm

Tim York wrote: my first superficial impression is that they highlight once again the growing confusion in the German wine labelling scene :evil: . VDP has no doubt some admirable intentions (e.g. the Burgundy model) but seems unable to resist continual tweaking, growers seem also to be branching out with new wine names and conflict between their practices and our carefully learned knowledge of the 1971 wine law terminology seems to be growing. Rationalisation and stability is urgently needed to regain consumer comprehension and confidence.


I agree with this completely. Are not these rules supposed to be for the consumer? Tell me who made the wine, where it was from (as specific as appropriate and as related to factual geography as possible), when it was harvested/made. With German wine it's not unreasonable to know where on the relative sweetness scale a particular wine is. Put in the must weight/Prädikat distinction on if you like but have it mean something (not "it's a least 70°Oe but could be up to and including pure Fructose"). Add the laudatory language if you want and/or are allowed. The words on the bottle should not require a handbook to understand and those words should have consistent meaning.

My problem with the whole Kabinett distinction is without online research I have no idea what kind of wine is in the bottle with that label.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:49 pm

I love classic kabinett, but hard to find anymore (2008s from the likes of Prum, Zilliken, Willi S are about as close as they come recently, but even those tend to have a bit more weight).

I agree with Tim and Keey that as German producers seek to be clearer in their labelling, I seem to be getting more and more confused.

Nice article
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:16 pm

Thank you, Dale. As Kelly, Tim, and you point out, the labeling issues need to be fixed. But it's no easy feat even within just the VDP. Each region and producer is different.

As for the so-called classic "off-dry" Kabinett, most people think of top producers such as J.J. Prüm, Zilliken, or Willi Schaefer.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:10 pm

Lars Carlberg wrote:As for the so-called classic "off-dry" Kabinett, most people think of top producers such as J.J. Prüm, Zilliken, or Willi Schaefer.


These days I think of less well known producers such as Merkelbach, Reuscher-Haart, Jakoby Pur, etc. They are making wines that come closer to what I look for in kabinett.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:05 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Lars Carlberg wrote:As for the so-called classic "off-dry" Kabinett, most people think of top producers such as J.J. Prüm, Zilliken, or Willi Schaefer.


These days I think of less well known producers such as Merkelbach, Reuscher-Haart, Jakoby Pur, etc. They are making wines that come closer to what I look for in kabinett.


The modest, tiny, and well-liked Alfred Merkelbach property has been a fairly well-known producer over the years. The other two are indeed less well known, unless someone follows Terry Theise's portfolio.

Do you favor keeping Kabinett for a residually sweet Mosel wine? If so, how should a producer label their light, unchaptalized, single-vineyard dry and off-dry Rieslings? Should they just be labeled as either a basic or village wine, as the VDP recommends?
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:10 pm

I have no issue with their being kabinett, kabinett halbtrocken, kabinett trocken, kabinett feinherb. No problem using the names outside the Mosel as well. Heck, one of my favorite wines year in and year out is the Oestricher Lenchen Kabinett Halbtrocken from Spreitzer in the Rheingau. Not sure if they still make it, but I plowed through cases of it in the past.

Anything to thrwart the VDP is fine with me.
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Re: Unlocking the Kabinett

Postby Lars Carlberg » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:32 pm

Thanks. It's good to get feedback on this topic. At the moment, I'm drinking a 2011 Riesling from Weiser-Künstler (bottled under Stelvin). It's their "basic" Gutsriesling. As I describe in one of my comments (below my article), this is true Mosel -- light, refreshing, and gulpable. I'm less attached to the term Kabinett, but it does make a difference to some buyers.

Despite my criticisms, the VDP has done much to improve the image of German wines. I also understand their decision to keep Prädikats for sweet wines. It's meant to simplify the nomenclature and to reduce the number of wines.
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