I've finally figured out why the Fallers make so many different wines each year: for fear that they will someday encounter a dish for which they don't have the perfect vinous partner. Under winemaker Laurence Faller, the Weinbach bottlings have shed some of their former sweetness and become even more flexible at table. That said, the late-harvest wines Laurence has crafted from the 1999 and 2000 vintages are some of the region most riveting, combining great sappiness and purity of flavor with the structure and balance needed to support long life in bottle. Nineteen ninety-nine was a more difficult, uneven year that required later harvesting, Laurence told me. But she then presented each '99 cuvee alongside its '00 sibling, as if to make the point that, assuming the fruit is at least reasonably ripe, a talented winemaker can make outstanding wine from topnotch holdings under less-than-ideal conditions. The '99s here are unusually elegant for the vintage, and that is not another way of calling them light. Along with Albert Mann and Zind-Humbrecht, the Weinbach gewurztraminers in '99 are especially impressive in the context of the vintage. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL)
Cool aromas of mint and fresh herbs. Juicy, minty and bright; flavors are rather neutral but show more intensity than the '99. Uncompromisingly dry and a bit tart on the finish.
Aromatic orange oil nose. Juicy, fresh, dry and nicely focused; lean but with good flavor intensity for the year. Finishes spicy and persistent.
Bright aromas of peach and spring flowers. Riper and richer than the '99, with a sweetly fruity peach blossom flavor and ripe juicy acids.
Restrained aromas of peach, lime and cress. Bright, fresh and limey; an elegantly styled muscat with juicy freshness and attractive shape.
Aromas of soft citrus fruits, watercress and minerals. Lean but brisk, with reasonably intense flavors of lemon, lime and mint. Finishes dry and brisk.
Bright, musky aromas of ginger, lime and wet stone. Quite dry but fairly rich. A rather stylish riesling, though a bit disjointed following the recent filtration. Finishes with good persistence.
Ripe aromas of orange blossom, peach and honey. Good richness and volume in the mouth; round and just off-dry. Offers modest complexity and betrays a slight warmth.
Precise aromas of lime, mint and powdered stone. Cool, penetrating flavors of lemon, lime and minerals. Less round than the '99 owing to its brisk acids and slightly lower residual sugar (3.5 g/l, vs. 5 for the '99). Quite young and evolving slowly. Finishes with sneaky persistence.
Expressive aromas of orange oil and wet stone. Chewy and dense but not at all sweet; classic riesling flavors of dried fruits and stone. This has lovely balance and finesse. A subtle, very persistent wine that finishes dry but not at all hard.
Ripe, nuanced nose combines peach, lime, ginger and minerals. Brisk, concentrated and penetrating, with a vibrant lime flavor and just a hint of sweetness (5 g/l). Dense and suave. Finishes quite long, with subtle, pure citrus skin and mineral notes.
Musky, oily, very ripe aromas of tangerine and pineapple. Rich and concentrated, but nearly as dry as the 2000. Slightly lower acidity here produces a somewhat rounder impression, but the wine mineral core gives it shape and grip. Pure, harmonious and long. Quite different in style from the '00, but of roughly equal quality.
Knockout aromas of honeyed fruit salad, bright pineapple and minerals. Superrich, dense and lush, but ripe acids and brisk ginger and pineapple flavors give the wine a pungent, almost sauvignon-like quality. The very long, clean finish really refreshes the palate. This has 13.9% alcohol and just 6 g/l r.s.
Rather reticent, slightly exotic nose hints at pineapple, orange oil and caraway seed. Very tightly wound and minerally; possesses noteworthy thickness of texture but is extremely closed today and uncompromisingly dry. Should blossom with four or five years of further bottle aging.
Superripe, rot-ennobled aromas of honey and apricot. Very smooth and suave, with moderately sweet, honeyed flavors that are extremely rich but not at all cloying thanks to strong underlying acidity. Finishes very long and powerful but not hot. This is more accessible in its youth than the regular Schlossberg Cuvee Ste. Catherine, no doubt due to its 19 g/l r.s.
Dried apricot, peach, butter, honey and spices on the nose. Rich and intensely flavored, with a honeyed ripeness nicely leavened by firm acids. Still rather closed today and less precise than the rieslings that preceded it. Finishes with a note of earth and a slight youthful aggressiveness.
Oily, very ripe aromas of nuts and game; less obviously fruity than the 2000 but more complex. Sweet, fat and concentrated, with rich, honeyed fruit and very good depth. Not overly sweet (32 g/l r.s.) thanks to its ripe acids. Laurence says this wine has similar elements to the 2000, but that here the wine components have already harmonized. Very long and sweet on the back end. I like the balance here.
Highly complex, soil-inflected aromas of smoke, flint, minerals and earth. Rich, concentrated and deep, with racy acids giving the flavors sharp definition. Finishes long and fine, with more obvious grip than the Cuvee Ste. Catherine.
Tangy nose dominated by ripe peach. Very rich and sweet; softer and rounder than the '00, without quite the younger wine complexity and grip, but this, too, offers lovely finesse and purity of flavor. Smooth and voluminous tokay.
Aromas of jammy pit fruits, smoke and earth. Lovely honeyed fruit given thrust and penetration by bright, perfectly integrated acidity. In a rather powerful, liqueur-like style, and currently a bit aggressive on the back end. This will require some aging to come into better harmony.
Musky, rather fine aromas of pineapple and spices. Very sweet but bright and stylish, with subtle notes of minerals, spices and earth. A suave, softer-styled tokay, with a very long, spicy finish.
Soft citrus fruits and smoke on the nose. Good fruit-driven wine, with enough acidity for its light sweetness. Not complex but juicy and fresh.
Aromatically complex, slightly high-toned aromas of rose petal and ginger. Juicy, spicy and stylish, with lovely clarity of flavor and detail. Firmer and less sweet than the '99 version, and likely to be more flexible at the table.
Fresh but reticent aromas of ginger and flowers. Fresh, nicely delineated flavors of ripe citrus fruits and spiced meats. More powerful than the Reserve Personnelle but also subtler and more nuanced.
Oily, smoky nose comes across as more exotic than that of the 2000. Rich and expansive, but with less precision of flavor and subtlety than the 2000. But this offers very good concentration for the vintage.
Classic dried meats and spices on the aromatic nose. Rich, spicy and highly perfumed in the mouth, lifted by harmonious, ripe acidity. Finishes long, spicy and pure, with a floral hint and lovely vibrancy. Should make an outstanding bottle.
Lower-toned aromas of lichee, earth and mirabelle. Smooth, rich and round, but with solid supporting mineral spine. Not as gripping as the 2000 but firm enough on the back end and quite elegantly styled.
Fresh, complex nose features spicy dried meats, mandarin orange and candied grapefruit peel. Fat and rich but also succulent, spicy and nicely delineated. A dense wine with considerable power and impressive structure. Finishes very spicy and vibrant, firm but not bitter or hot.
Very restrained aromas of smoked meat, spices and soft citrus fruits. Bright, tangy flavors of yellow fruits complicated by underlying minerality. Structured, focused and long. Very impressive for gewurztraminer from this tricky year. The Altenbourg vineyard is at the foot of the grand cru Furstentum, and based on the wines I tasted chez Weinbach this site is capable of producing wine of grand cru quality.
Withdrawn nose hints at clove, cinnamon and mirabelle. Thick, deep and powerfully constituted, with very deep, vibrant flavors of pit fruits and spices. This has compelling sweetness and a juicy, lipsmacking finish.
Nobly rotten aromas of tangy grapefruit peel and honey. Very intensely flavored and vibrant; impressively rich and thick but racy acids give the flavors terrific clarity. Finishes extremely bright, brisk and persistent.
Outrageously expressive nose features dusty stone, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, apricot, spring flowers and red berries. Extremely intensely flavored and sharply defined, with strong mineral and spice notes contributing to the wine penetration on the palate. Vibrant and detailed. A powerful but elegantly styled wine with great verve.
Bright, captivating aromas of spiced peach, curry powder, ginger and wild strawberry. Not hugely concentrated but stylish and bracing, with a firm, steely mineral spine. Finishes with terrific palate-cleansing freshness and persistence.
Cool, slightly mentholated aromas of lime and spice. Brilliantly delineated but currently very closed in on itself; densely packed but not quite unctuous thanks to its strong mineral character. This seems richer and more concentrated than the '99, but the '99 is no slouch.
Orange peel, flint and smoke on the nose. Dense and fat but sharply delineated thanks to solid, ripe acidity. A rather powerful style of tokay, currently a bit aggressive on the back end. Finishes with superb grip and freshness. This will need several years of bottle aging.
Aromas of soft citrus fruits, honey and smoke. Very sweet and rich, with ripe but sound acids. In a distinctly gentle style compared to the 2000, but quite tangy on the finish. Long, subtle aftertaste.
Pure, discreet aromas of lime blossom, tangerine and minerals. Chewy and extremely dense, with fabulous ripe acids giving the citrus and stone flavors great verve. Crystalline finishing flavors cleanse the palate and go on and on. An SGN that displays clear vineyard and varietal character, rather than simply the flavors and texture of noble rot.
Intriguing aromas of jasmine, gardenia, curry powder and minerals. Extremely rich, fat and full in the mouth; dusty but not bitter on the back end. Very spicy and very long. Tastes less sweet than its 102 g/l r.s. would suggest.
Reticent aromas of apricot, honey and spices. Chewy and penetrating; like an essence of fresh fruit salad. Has an unctuous texture but strong acids keep the wine from cloying. Finishes extremely fresh and long. This very young wine will show more complexity with another five or six years in bottle and should go on for two decades or more. The 2000 version of this wine was still fermenting in early May.
Knockout, high-toned botrytis aromas of apricot jam, grapefruit peel and baking spices. Almost painfully intense in the mouth, with brilliant citrus and spice flavors sharpened by very strong acidity. This manages to be utterly fresh despite its 200 grams per liter residual sugar. Penetrating, vibrant finish features terrific grip and uncanny persistence.
High-toned aromas of grapefruit and spice. Great density and thickness in the mouth, but kept fresh by riesling-like acids. This has remarkably concentrated fruit extract even if it doesn't quite match the 2000 for sheer purity of flavor-but then few gewurztraminers can. Should go on for many years but is already delicious.