WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

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WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby Ryan M » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:20 am

This past week I've had two surprises. Firstly, I've been smitten by two two unheralded German grapes. Secondly, those same two wines got my attention as examples of the potential virtues of wines aged under screwcap.

The notes first, and then my thoughts on the screwcap revelation.

Villa Wolf, Silvaner, Pfalz 2006
Low key but fresh and nice nose of orchard fruit, with a hint of flowers, petrol, and smokey mineral. Full bodied and richly textured on the palate, with slightly tart plum upfront, pineapple, lime, petrol, a hint of guava, lots of mineral, a touch of sour cream, all with steely acidity. In many ways similar to an excellent Riesling, but fatter and richer in texture. I like this a lot. Under screwcap, and very fresh. 5 more years? 3 Stars [9/23/13]

Lingenfelder, Dornfelder, Pfalz 2004
Excellent, wonderful, and aromatically fascinating nose: forest floor, roses, campfire embers, a hint of evergreen, a hint of leather/tobacco, and a prominent note of citrus oil, all on top of nice notes of sweet red berries and a hint of cassis, and with nice undertones of dark, rich earth. On the palate, a note of pure, fresh raspberry upfront (like biting into one), black cherry, red and black currant, something almost like a hint of mint, cola, prominent citrus, and stone/mineral. Medium bodied, soft and delightful, but with that vein of citrusy acidity keeping all in balance. Showing maturity but only in good ways. I love it! best German red I've had, in fact. Drink now. Screwcap. 3.5 Stars [9/27/13]

Until now, my impression of wines that had aged for more than a few years under screwcap had been that they were merely preserved, but had not truly aged, at least not in the direction of "traditional" maturity. But, these two Germans had what are distinct notes of maturity, and yet were still perfectly fresh an clean, with none of the notes, good or bad, that come with the slow oxygen exposure allowed by corks. This was a revelation. A few years ago, Hoke had suggested that we might someday come to prefer the character of wines aged under screwcap. I said at the time that I would only be in favor or screwcaps that could somehow allow "traditional" aging. Now, while I expect that traditional maturity will continue to hold sway over my palate, I'm now quite ready to explore screwcap wines as an alternate path with its own merits.
Last edited by Ryan M on Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:47 am

Thanks for the data points Ryan.

I have close to 200 bottles of screw cap finished wine in the cellar. I keep checking in, and the results have been almost uniformly positive. I did have one 2008 kabinett that was badly reductive, and one bottle of Gamay that had the same fate. Other than that it's been nothing but great results. The wines are aging slowly, but they are aging.
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby Ryan M » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:51 pm

Well, you've got quite a lot more experience than I do then, but I'm glad you found the notes useful! I don't suppose you have any sense of an "empirical adjustment factor" for screwcap cellar lives compared to cork?

How do you feel about Silvaner and Dornfelder David? This was my first experience with Silvaner, and I must say that it has everything I like about Riesling plus some. This is my first experience with dry Dornfelder, and if they're all like this, it could replace Lemberger as my favorite German red.
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:32 am

I've hada few very good wines from Silvaner, but not generally from the Pfalz. Gysler makes a very nice bargain Silvaner (bottled in liters) from the Rheinhessen. The best Silvaner is from Franken.

I generally find Dornfelder to be forgettable.
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:58 am

Ryan M wrote:...it could replace Lemberger as my favorite German red.


Spatburgunder? I know the overpriced examples get a bad rap in the US, but there are nice examples across the price range and the nobility of the grape seems to stand tall above the other options for German red wine.
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby Ryan M » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:35 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Ryan M wrote:...it could replace Lemberger as my favorite German red.


Spatburgunder? I know the overpriced examples get a bad rap in the US, but there are nice examples across the price range and the nobility of the grape seems to stand tall above the other options for German red wine.


I've had what were supposedly some quite good Spatburgunders, and I confess that German Pinot Noir just doesn't do anything for me. It's attractive, but doesn't hold my interest. It's too clean, and the ones I've had have offered little to back up the fruit and provide contrast.
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby Ryan M » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:38 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I generally find Dornfelder to be forgettable.


I can actually easily how most Dornfelder could be less than compelling. The basic character of the ones I've had seems geared towards "soft and sweet," but if there are more like this Lingenfelder, I would be a big fan of those.

Lemberger on the other hand I've enjoyed every time I've had it. Howie's was really nice!
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
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Re: WTN: Some lesser Germans make the case for screwcap aging

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:21 pm

My preferred source for Lemberger is Austria, where it is known as Blaufrankisch.
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