"Two thousand five is a very good vintage when you could keep good acidity in the wines," said Marc Beyer, who compares this vintage to 2000 and 1990 in terms of its fullness and body. As at so many other addresses in Alsace, the rieslings here tended to be more exotic in 2005 than in the previous year, but the pinot gris and gewurztraminer bottings offer a rare combination of opulent texture and classic aromatics. (R. Shack Selections, New York, NY; Martine's Wines, Novato, CA)
Also recommended: 2005 Pinot Blanc (86), 2005 Riesling (85), 2005 Pinot Gris (86).
($22; from a chalky plot in the grand cru Pfersigberg) Very pale color. Very fine aromas of lime, mint and wet stone. Dense, rich and fairly full but precise, with captivating, fruit-driven flavors of nectarine, white peach and grapefruit. This offers a lovely combination of fullness, richness and bright acidity (like the '01, says Marc Beyer). Generous finishing flavors coat the palate.
($35; from Pfersigberg fruit harvested very late) Spicy orange and lemon peel aromas show a faint botrytis tang. Dense, fat and thick, with a touch of sweetness and a tropical fruit character. A very ripe, rich riesling with considerable power and terrific depth of fruit. But this very long, unevolved wine needs at least six years of patience.
($45) Reticent nose. Sweet on entry, then quite tight in the middle and hiding its opulence. Exotic suggestion of banana along with brisker notes of grapefruit and pineapple. More classic riesling, with less botrytis character than the Comtes d'Eguisheim (but the '04 version shows more riesling cut). This is from the Eichberg, which Beyer says makes a heavier style of riesling. But this is very young today and in need of aging.
($22-$37) Pure, subtle aromas of lime zest and dill. Supple, tactile and fruity, with nicely integrated acids framing the ripe white peach, nectarine and spice flavors. At once ripe and delicate. This persistent muscat should make a very good food wine. In the dry house style, with just 3.6 g/l r.s.
($22) Ripe aromas of lemon and butter, with a whiff of crushed stone. Sweet, fuity and fresh, with ripe acids framing the flavors of soft citrus fruit and peach. A bit youthfully aggressive, but this broad, supple wine boasts good acid cut and balance. Leaves a slightly sweet impression on the finish, but this is more classic than the estate's basic pinot gris, which showed a faintly exotic banana note.
($52) Pale straw-gold color. Ripe peach, honey and lime blossom on the nose, with a spicy lift from a bit of botrytis. Compared to the Reserve, this is more powerful and serious, showing excellent thrust but a youthful severity today. Finishes with excellent length. This will need a few years to harmonize its elements. The first vintage for this bottling since 2000.
($18-$23) Bright pale yellow. Primary aromas of ripe yellow fruits, spicy cured meats, rose petal and cinnamon. Supple, nicely concentrated and fairly dry, with suble hints of meat and spice. Broad, nicely balanced and thoroughly ripe gewurztraminer, finishing with good freshness and grip. Strong for a basic bottling.
($25; from Pfersigberg fruit) Wild, musky nose offers scents of venison and exotic spices. Lush, scented and exotic on the palate; conveys an almost sweet impression but this is quite dry for its level of richness (14% alcohol with 4 grams of r.s.) thanks to firm acids concentrated by botrytis. Needs time to mellow and knit, but even today this does not come off as hot or harsh. May well merit an outstanding rating with three or four years of bottle aging. Way better than the comparatively dull '04.
($40; from Eichberg fruit) Pale yellow-gold color. Subdued nose is far less exotic than the Reserve. Supple, round and intensely flavored; powerful and broad, with noble mineral and spice flavors lifted by an almost floral acidity. Conveys an impression of volume without weight-not to mention superb depth of flavor. A note of smoked meat emerged as the wine opened in the glass. A classic opulent but dry (less than three grams r.s.) gewurztraminer in an almost old-fashioned style. This is carrying 14% alcohol but there's no sign of heat.
Medium red. Fruit-driven aromas of strawberry and spice. Sweet, supple and easygoing, with red fruit and spice flavors. Sweet, dusty tannins won't get in the way of enjoying this right now. I found this almost shockingly tasty for a wine from this producer. Beyer does not destem because he feels he needs the stem tannins, but does a very short four-or-five-day maceration in cuve in search of a fruity wine. "It's not a Burgundy style," he told me, recommending that consumers drink this chilled for the refreshment value of a white wine. Production of this wine was 80,000 bottles.
($55) Pale color. Spicy nose shows a slight resiny quality; perhaps a bit dulled by alcohol. Sweet and spicy, with rich but somewhat aggressive yellow fruit flavors. I find this rather musclebound today and not yet expressing its personality. Relatively little botrytis here. Will this be accepted by the wine authorities as VT?
($120) Pale gold. Sexy, botrytis-influenced aromas of apricot nectar, honey and floral perfume. Superripe and sweet but with an enticing tangy quality to the honey and apricot flavors. Glyceral-thick but with terrific lift and life thanks to brisk acidity. Finishes with superb length and a lightly tannic firmness. From a blend of Eichberg and Pfersigberg fruit picked at the beginning of the harvest.