2019 German Grosse Gewächse & 2018 Pinot Noir
2019 Dry Whites
Now and then a truly great vintage comes along, a year when all the elements combine to give wines of harmony, finesse and energy, wines that reflect their origins, that taste delicious young but also have the capacity to age. 2019 is such a vintage.
They are easy to taste: very precise wines where each element – the vibrant fruit, the juicy acidity, the pure minerality is clearly delineated and effortlessly integrated. Some are positively ethereal. They crackle with energy and a broad spectrum of fruit flavours: elderflower and blackcurrant, pear and white peach. Many show notes of fresh green herbs and spice - nutmeg and pepper. The acidity is ripe and lemony, and the mineral structure complex and fine, going from pithy and lean to broad dark earthy flavours, almost always with a distinct salinity.
2018 was one of the hottest vintages this century and created great challenges for growers. As you would expect, the reds are rich and muscular, with ripe forward fruit; nonetheless despite the heat, they are balanced and elegant and show clearly defined terroirs. They are opulent and fruit-driven, seductive and approachable, and display all the hallmarks of longevity.
These are some of the world’s greatest wines, and they offer excellent value.
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2018 Spätburgunder [14 20] (JULG70218A)
From vines around Schweigen-Rechtenbach, half of them in France. The fruit is from young vines, or older ones in less favoured sites. The wine is forward and very seductive, with soft violet-tinged red fruit, bright acidity, perfectly judged tannins and a long mouthfilling finish. Hard to think of a better bargain for the quality.
2018 Spätburgunder Sonnenberg [30 20] (JULG76218A)
From the original Sonnenberg vineyard in Germany. A big step up in intensity and finesse. Vines planted in steep sandy loam soils on a limestone base give a pure, plummy elegant wine with notes of smoke and spice, and there is a juicy, fine tannic finish with a hint of wood.
2018 Spätburgunder Sonnenberg WB [31 20] (JULG77218A)
From 25-year-old vines in Wormberg vineyard, across the border in France. Intense, scented red cherry is supported by sweet ripe tannins, and a dark stony mineral element on the finish.
2018 Spätburgunder Sonnenberg KB [32 20] (JULG78218A)
The Kammerberg is the estate's best vineyard, on a gentle south-facing limestone-rich slope overlooking Wissembourg. Young vines are already giving a complexity to the ripe cherry fruit, and there is a good deal of finely structured fine tannin behind it, culminating in a smooth dark finish.
2018 Spätburgunder Opus Oskar [33 20] (JULG80218A)
The best vines from the Kammerberg give the estate's most intense wine, but it wears the power lightly, showing pure scented ripe fruit, fine supple tannins that shrug off the high proportion of new wood, and a long rich satisfyingly juicy finish.
2018 Pinot Noir Herrenstück [17 19] (KOCH40218A)
The fruit is seductive, soft and red, with a hint of smoke, and there is ripe juicy acidity providing energy. The tannins, while quite present, are fine, and give the wine considerable length.
2018 Pinot Noir* [20 19] (KOCH44218A)
The fruit is perfumed and bright, deliciously juicy and approachable, and there is a hint of stems in the background that gives structure, combining with the fine supple tannins lending a dark edge to the long, cherry-fruited finish.
2018 Pinot Noir*** [21 19] (KOCH46218A)
From the estate's best site, the Halbuck, a terraced vineyard with poor loess soils on volcanic rock; grapes ripen more slowly than in other vineyards on the estate. This has more density, the weave is tighter and the wine more backward, but it is not taut. Rather there is a relaxed effortlessness to the seductively ripe red fruit, smooth fine tannins and long fresh finish. Very special.
2018 Pinot Noir Reserve [LO3/20] (KOCH50218A)
The top selection from the Halbuck vineyard, but sadly not tasted.
2018 Spätburgunder [02 20] (SHEL20218A)
There is very seductive fresh ripe red cherry fruit, notes of marzipan and spice, the acidity is bright and integrated, the tannins plummy and smooth and there is a melting chocolatey finish.
2018 Pinot Noir [03 20] (SHEL30218A)
Made from small-berried Dijon clones around forty years old. A fresh floral nose with crushed raspberry, and a healthy dash of spice lead to a generous, ripe wine with pointed acidity and very fine elegant tannins.
2018 Pinot Noir N114 [04 20] (SHEL36218A)
Named after the bunker number on the Canadian airbase where Hans-Bert and Silke made their first wines. The smallest bunches from the oldest vines in their Nordweil vineyard, planted in 1971, are harvested a little earlier and vinified separately, this year in three barriques, two of them new. The fruit easily swallows the wood, and the wine is densely woven and very intense, with ripe red fruit, powerful smooth tannins and a long rich dark finish.
2017 Tschuppen Spätburgunder (ZIER48217A)
A rich wine reminiscent of a good Gevrey - bloody and smoky, with pure blueberry fruit, elegant tannins and an appealing fresh finish.
2017 Talrain Spätburgunder (ZIER49217A)
From a high vineyard in the Black Forest near Kandern, surrounded by dense woodland, with loam soils rich in iron on a limestone base, similar to that in Gevrey. It is a cool spot, the fruit smooth and dark, lifted by a high proportion of whole-bunches, and finishes on a long elegant juicy note.
2017 Rhini Spätburgunder (ZIER52217A)
Lots of whole bunches here give a floral red-fruited wine, some iron in the soil lends spice, and there is a rounded, dense long elegant finish.
2017 Jaspis Pinot Noir (ZIER60217A)
Now we're getting serious: a finely textured, spicy wine with crushed red fruit, smooth tannins and a beguiling richness. The finish is powerful, juicy and long.
2015 Jaspis Spätburgunder Alte Reben (ZIER64215A)
As usual, made from grapes harvested last. 2015 was a fabulous vintage here, and this is the best alte Reben we have tried. It is powerful and rich, but astonishingly fine: an abundance of crushed red fruit is balanced by silky tannins and there is an endless spicy finish.
2017 Jaspis Syrah (ZIER70217A)
You have to taste to believe: you'd think you have a top notch Côte-Rôtie: tinned tomatoes, smoky, lean and pure, this has it all.
2019 Frauenberg GG [47 20] (BATT42219A)
A firm, very precise wine of great intensity. The dense, powerful citrus and spice-laden fruit is tightly bound by a fine tensile mineral structure giving the wine energy and enormous length.
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