Jean-Christophe Bott describes his 2005s as opulent wines, with pinot gris and gewurztraminer favored. What struck me about these varieties was their exhilarating purity of aromas and flavors. "Riesling was not as good in '05 due to hydric stress," Bott told me. I tasted the range of 2005s at Bott-Geyl the week after they were bottled, then had the chance to try many of them again in June, by which time they were flamboyantly showy and enticing. Bott believes that his late-harvest wines from this vintage have excellent aging potential. (Eric Solomon Selections/European Cellars, Charlotte, NC)
Also recommended: 2005 Pinot d'Alsace (86), 2005 Muscat Les Elements (85), 2005 Riesling Grafenreben (85), 2005 Pinot Gris Les Elements (86).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Gentil d'Alsace*, 2005 Riesling Les Elements, 2005 Riesling Burgreben*.
Subtle, delicate aromas of flowers, nutmeg and stony minerality. A step up in intensity over the preceding village rieslings, with good penetration to the juicy flavors of minerals, crushed stone and lime. Tightly coiled riesling with a firm acid spine. Distinctly introverted wine, and less precise and aromatic than the '04 version.
Pale, bright yellow. More fruit-driven nose than the Schoenenbourg, featuring lime, lime skin and orange. Supple in texture but with penetrating limey acidity giving it a penetrating quality. This is bigger than the Schoenenbourg, seemingly with more alcohol and residual sugar, but it's an infant today.
Good palish color. Slightly warm aromas of soft citrus fruits, ginger and smoke. Rich, ripe, sweet (30 g/l r.s), spicy and complex, with fruit-driven flavors of orange, pear and peach. Firm acidity gives the wine good energy and thrust. A bit drier on the finish thanks to its dusty, tactile quality.
Gold-tinged yellow. Nuanced nose offers tangerine, peach, floral honey and ginger. Rich, tactile and round; silky-sweet and suave. There's an almost oily richness to the stone fruit flavors but a piquant note of peach pit, as well as some apparent tannins, give firmness and lift to the long finish. Conveys a strong impression of soil character. "Always a more masculine wine," notes Bott, adding that this chalky terroir yields wines that can be bitter in their youth, like the '04 Gewurztraminer Sonnenglanz. "But this is a sign of ageability," he notes.
($26) Pale yellow-gold. Pure, varietally accurate aromas of ripe stone fruits, rose oil, clove and nutmeg. Rich, sweet and on the soft side, with a rather glyceral texture to the flavors of peach, orange and spice. A round but shapely wine with a lingering, smooth aftertaste. This was the first-picked of these gewurztraminers, with 16.5% potential alcohol; now it's 14+% with about 50 grams of residual sugar. About 20% of this cuvee is grand cru juice.
Pale yellow-gold. Wonderfully perfumed, musky nose offers pure aromas of cinnamon, clove, rose petal and minerals; as aromatic as this is, there's no exaggerated potpourri here. Sweet, lush, suave and concentrated, with harmonious ripe acidity giving shape to the sexy fruit, spice and mineral flavors. This is actually quite complex but understated, thanks to its juicy character. The dusty, spicy finish boasts terrific persistence. There's 50 grams per liter of r.s. here but the overall impression is fresh and not overly sweet. A delicious example of this variety. "Riesling prefers humidity but gewurztraminer prefers sun," notes Bott.
Pale yellow-gold. An exotic fruit bomb on the nose, offering musky aromas of pineapple, clove and honey, plus a suggestion of chalk. Gives a richer, rounder, sweeter impression than the Furstentum (the residual sugar is virtually the same); there's sound acidity here but a more glyceral, open-knit texture. Finishes pure and clean, with lingering notes of smoke and caraway seed and enticing floral lift.
(75 g/l r.s.; from a crop level of just 30 hectoliters per hectare; the last grapes picked in '05, on October 25) Full medium gold. Captivating nose offers pineapple, clove, rose oil, lavender and white pepper. Concentrated, oily wine with a thick, glyceral-rich texture. A slight phenolic quality cuts the sweetness. I find a compelling florality here, as well as an exotic element of brown spices to firm the rich finish. Not hugely sweet or powerfully structured: this struck me as midway between grand cru and VT in style.
(this fermented until the end of August '06) Pale-medium gold. Enticing, showy aromas of apricot nectare, honey and caramel, with fresh pineapple emerging with air. Silky-sweet and dense, with apricot, soft citrus and honey flavors nicely framed by ripe acidity and complicated by a saline nuance. The 110 g/l r.s. is very high for this cuvee, but this rich wine is not at all over the top. "Technically, 15.2% potential alcohol is the minimum for pinot gris SGN," says Bott, "but our minimum is 18%."
Pale yellow-gold. Expressive aromas of smoked meat, clove and nutmeg show lovely lift. Lush, opulent and spicy, with strong yellow fruit flavors, a slightly oily quality and attractive floral perfume. Finishes lively, sexy and long, with considerable delicacy and aromatic interest. This wine, which Bott said had an SGN must weight, fermented until late spring. Bott told me he does not need to practice batonnage because the long fermentations here have the effect of moving the lees.
Deep orange-gold. Musky, slightly high-toned aromas of apricot, yellow plum and honey, complicated by almost Tokaji-like notes of truffle, smoke and earth. Then concentrated and saline, with a level of acidity that almost comes as a shock. Dense but lively SGN with a very long, tactile, almost tannic aftertaste that coats the palate with spices. These grapes were harvested before the fruit used for the VT, and the higher acidity here makes the wine taste less sweet despite its 200 g/l r.s.
Deep gold. High-toned aromas of orange peel, marzipan and cherry-almond. Hugely sweet, thick and chewy, with a flavor of orange marmalade. As glyceral and broad as this is, a suggestion of orange peel bitterness and an impression of chewy extract give it plenty of inner-palate energy. Very showy wine, with real palate-staining length. This is carrying 250 grams of residual suggar.