Philippe Blanck told me that this estate's 2005s are more minerally than the 2004s-or at least they were more minerally in cask. "They also began very floral, but then started closing down like the 2004s did a year ago," he said. Happily, I was able to retaste a number of the 2005 shortly before going to press with this issue, and to see several '05 grand crus for the first time. Most of the latter wines will not be released for another year or two. (Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY; The Stacole Company, Boca Raton, FL)
Also recommended: 2005 Pinot Blanc d'Alsace (86), 2005 Riesling (86), 2005 Riesling Rosenbourg (86), 2005 Pinot Gris (86), 2005 Pinot Noir (85).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Gewurztraminer*.
(from Furstentum) Good full cherry-red. Spicy redcurrant and cherry aromas lifted by a floral note. A supple, juicy midweight with lively, pure pinot flavors of red berries and spices. Neither herbal nor cooked in character, just tasty, fresh pinot. The tannins are light but this finishes firm and persistent, with no shortage of grip.
($23) Pale gold. Restrained, musky nose hints at minerals and banana. Nicely concentrated and solidly built, with creamy fruit framed by firming minerality. The note of banana repeats on the palate. Finishes with good grip and a tannic suggestion. Still youthfully closed and in need of another 6 to 12 months of bottle age.
($25) Very pale yellow. Slightly exotic aromas of crystallized lemon peel, ginger and quinine. Juicy, spicy and on the dry side, with more shape and definition than the dry but slightly blurry Riesling Rosenbourg. In a laid-back style but shows good balance and cut. The dry finish features stone fruit and underrripe pineapple flavors and good grip.
Very pale, bright yellow. Aromas of dusty stone, menthol, fresh pineapple and nutmeg, plus a floral topnote. Supple, fine-grained and fairly dry, with nicely concentrated flavors of lemon, pineapple, minerals, wet stone and brown spices. Some saline soil traces convey an impression of extract. Tactile but with no rough edges. Finishes clean, subtle and persistent. This reminded of a slightly less austere version of some classically dry vintages of the Albert Mann Riesling Schlossberg.
Bright, light yellow. Aromas of lime, chlorophyll and dusty stone. Ripe, supple and on the dry side, in a fairly round, gentle style. Subdued flavors of peach, pineapple and stone. This somewhat subdued wine can't quite match the Wineck-Schlossberg for clarity or grip.
Very pale yellow. Soil-inflected aromas of peach, brown spices, quinine, crushed stone and caraway seed. Firm, pure and dry, with dominant flavors of flint and minerals. A very juicy, youthfully austere riesling with a penetrating, dusty, impressively long finish. This very tactile riesling could use a good five years in the cellar.
($26) Reticent musky aromas of citrus peel and pine resin, plus a whiff of brown spices. Supple, ripe and off-dry, with good concentration and palate presence but with only moderate definition and grip. Nicely round in the mouth but a tad diffuse. Finishes with decent length, though, and a slightly tannic impression.
Bright, pale yellow. Subtle, fresh aromas of peach, nectarine, butter and flowers, plus an exotic hint of banana; more passerillage than botrytis here, notes Philippe Blanck. In a moderately sweet (32 g/l r.s.), juicy, easygoing style, with good life to its nectarine and spice flavors. I suspect the wine's acids will be in better harmony with its fruit by the time this wine is released in 2008. Finishes with good length.
Pale straw-yellow. Highly nuanced nose combines peach, orange, brown spices and crushed stone, with a sexy topnote of elder flower and good stony lift. In a cooler style, with rocky and flinty notes currently dominating underlying stone fruits and spices. Plenty of CO2 yet to be absorbed. Energetic and light on its feet but not at all austere. When I tasted this prior to bottling, it was sweeter than the 26 g/l r.s. would suggest, but nine months later it's minerally and laid-back.s. Finishes with a brisk suggestion of green apple.
($33) Pale yellow-gold. Pungent, expressive aromas of rose oil, cinnamon and caraway seed. Sweet, rich and concentrated, with a good spicy core of yellow fruits complicated by an element of smoked meat. A rather fat fruit bomb but not an exaggerated style as this possesses enough verve to maintain its balance. Much better than the '04.
Medium yellow. Perfumed but youthfully reticent aromas of brown spices, flint and caraway seed, with ginger and rose petal notes emerging with aeration. Suave, round, oily and aromatic in the mouth, with plump yellow plum, spice and rose petal flavors of moderate sweetness. The lingering spicy fruit shows sneaky persistence on the back.
Bright yellow. High-toned, musky aromas of ginger, cinnamon, quinine and rose oil; this boasts compelling lift but Philippe told me the VA is a low 0.42. Very sweet (56 g/l r.s.) and concentrated, with a musky character and good dusty grip to the spicy, floral, mineral flavors. This is impressively tactile on the back end, and showing the tannins of this variety. According to Blanck, the dry extract here is an absurdly high 79 grams per liter.
Good bright palish yellow. Deep, subdued aromas of fresh apricot, orange blossom and meat. Very sweet, round and fat; quite smooth in the middle palate but with its earthy low tones this could use a bit more verve. A big, rich style, but the slightly edgy finish shows a distinct phenolic character. (Incidentally, a 375 ml. bottle sealed with a screwcap was distinctly more focused and energetic, meriting 90 points.)
Good bright, full red. Red cherry and smoky, spicy oak on the nose, lifted by a floral topnote. Juicy and penetrating; ripe but dry, with a strong spice character. Showing much more fruit and stuffing than the 2004 version but I find this very oaky today. Finishes with building, slightly drying tannins. As with the white wines in 2005, the tannins come from the grapes, not from oak, notes Philippe.