Jean Boxler, who has largely taken over winemaking duties from father Jean-Marc, describes this domain '99s as nicely defined wines, though not especially powerfully structured or potentially long-lived. "But we made much less wine than most of our neighbors," Boxler noted. "Due to short pruning followed by spring rain, we lost half of our crop. These wines are less austere at the beginning than the '98s, and are probably for drinking before the 2000s, but many of them may surprise us with their longevity, as some of our '92s did. The '99 vintage was weakest for muscat and gewurztraminer." The Boxlers began the 2000 harvest very early, then stopped picking because they didn't like the quality of the early fruit. "We had some rot in late August and we started picking early, on September 12," explained Jean, "because we were afraid of what would happen with more rain. "But even though the grapes looked good they had a faint mushroomy taste. This taint was almost miraculously eliminated by dry weather later in September, and the fruit harvested later was much cleaner and much more concentrated. All in the all, the 2000 vintage was our most difficult year since 1995; it's more inconsistent than 1999, but the wines have more sugar to hide their faults." Like his father, Jean is an unsparing judge of his own wines; as in most recent years, I found a number of standouts in this cellar, particularly the rieslings from the grand crus Sommerberg and Brand. (Robert Chadderdon Selections, New York, NY)
Fresh aromas of lime and flowers. Juicy, brisk and nicely vinous, with a minty freshness. Not fleshy but offers good mineral cut. Sylvaner from granite.
Precise lime, tangerine, honeysuckle and mineral aromas. Intensely flavored, dry and well-delineated, with riesling-like acidity giving it firmness and grip. Finishes with very good persistence.
Cool aromas of lime, licorice, mint, stone and spice. Rather closed and inexpressive in the mouth, with a hint of sweetness balanced by firm acids. A rather stylish wine of modest structure. Atypically, this is not quite as pristine as the basic '99 pinot blanc.
Aromas of white flowers, minerals, lemon, lime and softer citrus fruits. Dense and deep but quite precise, with fruit-driven flavors of lime, mint and stone. Very expressive for this wine at this early stage of its life in bottle. Offers a distinctly easy structure and moderate grip for a Boxler grand cru riesling but is tactile and quite long, with harmonious framing acidity.
More exotic aromas of dried fruits, orange peel, honey and spice. Richer but a bit less sweet, as there more alcohol and acidity to buffer the five or six grams per liter of residual sugar (the L31E has more like seven or eight). Brooding and very concentrated; full, young and very long. A real vin de garde
Slightly high-toned, expressive aromas of mint, lime and stone. Concentrated, firm and quite dry; austere but not hard. A dense, penetrating, classic young riesling whose impression of powdered stone contributes to its tactile, mouthcoating texture. Really clings to the palate on the long aftertaste.
Aromas of limeade, mandarin orange, spices and powdered stone. Sweet and silky in the mouth but a bit reduced today. Very rich and harmonious, with the thickness that comes from passerillage Sightly sweet at 15 g/l r.s., but has fine balancing acidity. Completely different in style from Boxler other riesling bottlings from Sommerberg, but roughly the same quality.
Ripe, slightly diffuse aromas of smoke and lees. Off-dry in the mouth, with exotic fruit flavors of modest complexity. An easygoing but fresh wine with ripe, nicely integrated acidity and good length.
Explosive nose features spice, game, orange peel and smoke. Sweet, tangy and deep; a big, mouthfilling wine that just short of unctuous. Strong granitic character gives this wine shape and grip. Finishes harmonious, fresh and very long, with intriguing hints of dried fruits. "My favorite tokay since '94," notes Jean.
Fresh aromas of smoked meat, minerals and soft citrus fruits. Fat, soft and spicy, with a note of rose petal. Offers clear varietal character and an enticing hint of sweetness without being at all cloying.
Subtly spicy aromas of rose petal, flint and minerals. Thick, dense and fairly dry, with rather laid-back flavors of smoked meat and flowers. Tastes dryer than its 30 grams per liter residual sugar would suggest, but I'd like to have seen a bit more detail in the middle palate. Finishes a bit edgy, with a hint of heat.
Tangy orange peel, quince, licorice and sweet nuts on the nose. Highly concentrated, urgent, fruit-driven flavors of apricot, peach, mandarin orange, tangerine and honey; thick but utterly vibrant thanks to lively acidity. This really explodes and persists on the superb finish. The Boxlers previously made Brand VT in '97, '96, '92 and '90.
Lemon, orange peel and smoke on the nose. Leanish and slightly off-dry, with modest flesh but decent texture. Could use a bit more length.
Ripe, high-pitched tangerine aroma. Fairly concentrated but a bit austere for pinot blanc; this could use a bit more meat for its bones. Seems even dryer than its 6 g/l r.s.
Floral, minty nose. Leanish but bright and pure; shows more obvious structure than the '99. Finishes ripe but dry, and quite persistent.
Very closed nose hints at granite. Dense and spicy; quite backward and almost austere but already aromatic in the mouth. Showing more spice and flinty minerality than fruit today. A rather powerful style of riesling with an assertive character.
Distinctive, pungent aromas of ginger, lime skin and pepper. Rich, ripe and chewy; still youthfully aggressive, even a bit warm, but less austere than the Sommerberg. Got better and better in the glass; has the firm acids to buffer its alcohol. Finishes long and penetrating, with precise flavors of citrus skin, spring flowers and spices.
Bright citrus scents, along with yellow plum and more exotic hints of dried fruits. Dense, concentrated and velvety in the mouth; a bit of noble rot gives this superrich wine a slightly viscous texture. Features superb depth of lime and powdered stone flavor. Finishes with outstanding length and grip. Has a near-perfect balance, at 14% alcohol and about 15 g/l r.s.
Exotic aromas of pit fruits and honey. Concentrated, thick and sweet, with great ripeness balanced by superb acidity. Bright, spicy flavors of fruit salad, lime and stones. Very long and impeccably balanced.
Tangy aromas of crystallized pit fruits and quince jam. Very rich and sweet but not quite viscous. Here the firm, penetrating acids show a slight hard edge and have not yet harmonized with the wine sugars. I prefer the balance of the first sample, but the Boxlers will almost certainly combine these two lots to make a single VT.
Ripe aromas of lime and white flowers; unmistakable granite notes. Very spicy and brisk, with sweet, fresh herbal flavors given excellent delineation by sound acidity. This is really atypically powerful and penetrating for muscat, not to mention delicious. From fruit harvested on September 15 with 15.5% potential alcohol.
Flint and honey on the nose. Slightly sweet and honeyed in the mouth; has good fat and weight but also solid supporting structure and plenty of flavor interest. Distinctly more promising than a first cuvee with the same designation, which showed more alcohol and little obvious structure.
Reticent but pure aromas of soft citrus fruits and flint. Juicy and penetrating, with strong acids partly masking the 30 g/l r.s. Slightly warm but very long on the finish. A youthful, slightly bitter-edged pinot gris that will require some bottle aging.
Tangy, spicy, slightly roasted nose shows a gamey nuance. Thick and very concentrated; sweet honey and apricot flavors are nicely framed by lively, harmonious acids. The slightly roasted quality recurs in the mouth. This has more sugar and less acidity than the Brand, and the balance seems clearly more successful. Subtle and long on the aftertaste.
Lively aromas of orange oil and stone. Bright, firm and nicely focused, with ripe acids giving shape and grip to this attractive, off-dry tokay. Not at all alcoholic.
Green-tinged color. Pure aromas of spiced meats and nutmeg. Concentrated and quite rich, but fresh and shapely; I never would have guessed the wine was carrying nearly 50 g/l r.s. Offers very good fruit intensity and juicy, persistent finishing flavors of citrus skin.
Ripe but subdued aromas of yellow plum and baking spices. Sweet, silky and impressively tactile in the mouth, with compellingly fresh flavors of honeysuckle, spices and minerals nicely framed by juicy acids. At once pliant and precise. Finishes very long and spicy, with terrific finesse. "Our best gewurztraminer from these vines since 1994," says Boxler.
High-toned, oily aromas of orange peel, honey and game. Supersweet and glyceral, with honeyed flavor freshened by firm acidity. Showing plenty of botrytis tones but is not yet especially complex. Finishes ripe but quite fresh. Boxler may add a bit of this to the regular Brand to add fat.
Pretty, pure aromas of rose petal, pineapple, yellow plum and spices. Dense, tactile and sharply delineated, with utterly vibrant pineapple flavor. This offers terrific purity and varietal character. Impressively long and vibrant on the finish, with a flavor of crystallized pineapple. Nearly 80% of these berries were affected by noble rot, noted Boxler, yet it brilliant, pure fruit that dominates the wine.