Francois Barmes
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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Following the fairly miserable summer of 2004, "2005 was more normal in the sense that we had much more regular ripeness," said Francois Barmes. "The wines are minerally but not particularly complex; they're not especially full or rich but will give pleasure. Vines on the hillsides ripened well, but riesling on the plain reached 12% or 12.5% potential alcohol and then stopped. It's a vintage of dry wines, with almost no rot of any kind." With thicker skins and less juice in the grapes, Barmes went on, the wines have "tannicity." (Sussex Wine Merchants, Moorestown, NJ)
Also recommended: 2005 Sept Grains Edelzwicker (85), 2005 Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes (85).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Pinot Gris Herrenweg.

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot Noir Reserve

Bright, deep red. Ripe, nuanced nose offers red cherry, rose petal and smoked meat. Fat, round and deep, conveying an impression of lowish acidity. A big boy for a pinot at this address. Not yet expressive but not at all overly oaked. Tightens up nicely on the back end, finishing with good grip and length. This may ultimately merit a higher score.

87(+?)?

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot D'Alsace

Pale yellow-gold color. Ripe, lively aromas of peach, ginger and honey. On the sweet side but with good purity and intensity to its rather corpulent flavors. Became a bit more exotic with aeration but this boasts more fat and length than the '04 version.

87

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Muscat Ottonel

Bright, pale, green-tinged yellow. Musky aromas of lime, quinine, flowers and chlorophyll. Supple and off-dry, with lovely floral intensity. A step up in sweetness and power from the '04. A fairly large-scaled, rich muscat with a tactile back end. This could work as an aperitif or at the dinner table.

88

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim

Pale, bright yellow. Pineapple, wet stone, white flowers and an exotic whiff of honey on the nose. Quite dry, high-pitched and penetrating, with a noteworthy density of texture given shape by lemony acidity. In an austere style but not hard.

87

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Rosenberg

Bright, pale yellow. Reticent but pure aromas of peach pit, pineapple candy and spices. Suppler than the Herrenweg, but with lovely harmonious acidity giving the wine excellent inner-mouth energy and penetration. Rather dry and classic riesling, with impressive intensity for a "village" wine and good stony spine.

88

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Leimenthal

(from what Barmes describes as a "clay and limestone plateau") Good bright yellow. Expressive aromas of smoke, flint, wet stone and pineapple, with some exotic fruit suggestions ("these golden grapes are always very ripe, if not showing some surmaturite," notes Barmes). Fat and off-dry, with the wine's sugars and acids not yet in harmony. Pineapple-dominated flavors seem less pure than those of the Rosenberg. The back end shows an austere, slightly tart quality and a faint dry spot. This is very hard to taste today and needs a year or two in the bottle.

87(+?)?

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Clos Sand

(from very young vines on granite-rich soil) Good pale color. Reticent aromas of pineapple, lemon cream and flowers, plus a slightly exotic suggestion of fruit syrup. Juicy and dry, with an exhilarating sugar/acid balance and a piquant lemony aspect. This tactile, lush wine conveys a strong impression of extract. Finishes nicely dry, with solid mineral spine. The lower crop level in these old vines has made a real difference here.

88

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Steingrubler

Pale, bright, green-tinged yellow. Cool, aristocratic nose offers lemon, lime, wet stone and menthol. Dense, brooding and rather powerful; very youthful and dry. This is not yet coming alive but the finish offers excellent length, with intriguing saline and stony traces. Still, I get very good rather than outstanding depth-no doubt due to some blockage of maturity in these fairly young vines.

89

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Hengst

Pale, bright yellow. Expressive aromas of pineapple and dusty stone; a bit more exotic than the Steingrubler. Round, ripe and mouthfilling, with enticinge flavors of pineapple, lemon curd, cherry-almond and smoke. With its compelling palate-coating breadth and tactile texture, this is deceptively tasteable now. But the powerful, rich, fairly dry finish, with its flavors of liquid stone and pineapple, suggests that this will blossom with five to seven years of cellaring.

92

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot Gris Pfleck

Medium yellow with a gold tinge. Subtle aromas of ripe stone fruits and almond. A bit sweet and warm in the mouth today, with an exotic aspect to its peachy flavor. Today the wine's acids and alcohol are in opposition and need time to harmonize. Denser than the '04 bottling, but does it ultimately have as much verve?

87(+?)?

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot Gris Rosenberg Silicis

Rather carnal aromas of dried fruits, spices, toast, smoke and minerals. Broad, suave and classically dry, with lovely intensity of flavor. The nicely rising finish is firm, dry and a bit oaky, with a lingering note of marzipan. A portion of this wine was aged in demi-muid to give it a bit more roundness.

88

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Pinot Gris Rosenberg Calcarius

Bright medium yellow. Complex, expressive nose shows superripe notes of apricot and honey; more noble rot character here than minerality, but fresh. Then sweet and juicy in the mouth, with nicely integrated acidity giving a distinctly tangy quality to the ripe peach and apricot flavors. Finishes fruity and long. This will become a bit more suave and lose some of its easy sweetness with bottle aging.

89

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Gewurztraminer Wintzenheim

Bright golden-yellow. Reticent aromas of honeycomb and spice. Big, spicy and rich, with a dominant flavor of yellow plum. Offers more grip and varietal character than the Herrenweg bottling but this is still rather powerful and a bit warm and topheavy. Concentrated but musclebound, finishing with some low-toned saline and nut skin notes. (The Rosenberg was still in cuve at the time of my visit.)

87?

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Gewurztraminer Steingrubler

Pale yellow-gold. Reticent nose hints at clove, smoked meat and honey. Sweet and glyceral but given life by firm acidity. Youthfully closed but the corpulent yellow fruit and spice flavors are already obvious. Denser, deeper and longer than the 2004 version, and sweeter and more nuanced on the back end.

90

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Gewurztraminer Pfersigberg

Pale yellow. Exotic, rather deeply pitched aromas of yellow plum, floral oils and brown spices. Large-scaled, opulent and powerful, with a silky-smooth texture and a very long, fat, full finish. This shows a carnal, almost decadent sweetness but does not come across as particularly sugary. A year or two in bottle should bring more complexity.

91

2005 Domaine Barmes-Buecher Gewurztraminer Hengst

Medium yellow. Subdued but multifaceted nose offers pineapple, mirabelle, curry powder and brown spices. Fat, chewy and intensely spicy, with an impressively layered quality to its yellow fruit and floral flavors. Lovely ripe acidity contributes to the impression of purity and gives firmness to the very long, smooth, powerful finish. This is approachable now owing to its sweetness, but it would be a shame not to give it another year or two of bottle aging.

92
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