Jean-Pierre Dirler
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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"Two thousand five was a precocious year that featured some hydric stress," said Jean-Pierre Dirler, "but vines farmed organically and vines with deep roots suffered less." Dirler picked a good chunk of his fruit during the last week of September. The rain then fell in the middle of the harvest, triggering noble rot but, he said, resulting in little grey rot or dilution. "The wines are powerful, concentrated and rich in alcohol, with more acidity than the 2004s," he summarized. (Robert Chadderdon Selections, New York, NY)

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Pinot Blanc Cuvee Vieilles Vignes

(100% pinot blanc) Pale color. Flint, minerals and spices on the lively nose. Juicy and quite taut, with firm acids giving shape and grip to the citrus and peach flavors. Tastes drier than its 9 g/l r.s. owing to near riesling-like acidity. Noteworthy intensity of flavor here, but I'd give this very young wine a bit more time in the bottle.

87(+?)

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Muscat Saering

(picked late but with fairly low sugar) Pale yellow. Lichee and flowers on the nose; almost gewurz-like. Supple but quite dry, even austere for this wine. A serious wine that's not yet showing its personality. The tight finish calls for a year or so of patience. Just four grams of residual sugar here.

87(+?)?

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Riesling Saering

Bright, pale color. Pure, musky aromas of lemon, ginger and quinine, lifted by a floral element. Quite dry and spicy, even a bit youthfully austere, with juicy acids keeping this quite taut. Very tightly wound riesling that should be flexible at the dinner table. Dirler recommends pairing it with fish in a rich sauce. (There will actually be a second Saering cuvee in 2005, from "more floral" fruit harvested early; in most years, Dirler combines the two pickings but not this time.)

89(+?)

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Riesling Spiegel

Pale, bright yellow. Expressive nose combines pungent raw pineapple, minerals and honey; faint suggestion of noble rot. Tightly wound, sharply detailed and penetrating; comes across as quite dry. Finishes juicy and a bit dry-edged, with citrus and stony nuances. "Very similar to the '04 in quality as well as style," notes Dirler. This is built to age.

89(+?)

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Riesling Kessler Heisse Wanne

(from the same parcel that yielded the 2004 Riesling Kessler VT; 13.7% alcohol with 13 g/l r.s.) Pale, bright yellow. Complex, elegant aromas of pineapple, minerals and flowers; scented and precise. Vibrant and on the dry side, with lovely floral cut to the yellow fruit and mineral flavors. Conveys a strong impression of rocky terroir; quite different in style from the rot-ennobled '04 VT. Harmonious acidity gives this terrific precision in the mouth. Dirler told me this wine, which is never a powerful style, reminds him of the wines "of the old days" (his first vintage was 1959).

92

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Riesling Kessler

(from fruit picked the same day as the Heisse Wanne) Pale, bright yellow. Creamy pineapple aroma with a stony topnote. In a fruity and rather powerful style, with penetrating acidity giving shape and thrust to the pineapple and lemon ice flavors. With its terrific cut and exhilarating sugar/acid balance, this seems drier than its 24 grams per liter would indicate. Every bit as long as the Heisse Wanne, but this really needs a good six to eight years of bottle aging. Dirler prefers the highest portion of Kessler for his riesling, and favors his holdings lower on the slope for pinot gris and gewurztraminer.

91(+?)

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Pinot Gris Kessler

Full straw-yellow color. Extravagant aromas of apricot, peach, butter and honey, with an exotic smoky element; almost VT-like. Superrich, sweet and expressive, with yellow fruit flavors complicated by mineral and other soil tones. With its lovely verve, this comes across as less sweet than its 51 g/l r.s. would suggest. Builds impressively on the stony back end. "In 2005, the terroir is stronger than the grapes," observes Dirler.

91

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Gewurztraminer Bux

(a distinctly dry style for this wine, at 11 g/l r.s.) Pale, bright straw-yellow color. Subdued aromas of smoked meat, flowers and mint. Fairly thick and powerful, with good cut thanks to gripping acidity. Flavor of spiced meats. This has more body and roundness than the '04 bottling, and comes across as less peppery. Serve this with Szechuan food now, or give it another year or two to evolve in bottle.

88

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Gewurztraminer Kitterle

Pale, bright yellow. Nose dominated by spiced meats. Sweet, supple and on the gentle side, with pliant fruit and spice flavors nicely framed by ripe acidity. A distinctly easygoing wine with moderate sweetness (about 25 g/l r.s.). Noteworthy more for its balance and early appeal than for any particular complexity. Finishes with a suggestion of licorice.

89

2005 Domaine Dirler-Cade Gewurztraminer Kessler

Very pale gold. Exotic aromas of cured meats, nutmeg and cinnamon. Sweet and succulent in the mouth, offering a range of yellow fruits and spices and a suggestion of saline extract. More complex than the Bux; like a salad of fruits. This is also considerably sweeter at 39 g/l r.s. but there's more than enough buffering material and acidity to handle the sugar. Not at all heavy on the back; in fact this is quite suave. The crop level here was just 30 hectoliters per hectare, according to Dirler. (Incidentally, Dirler told me that he made a bit of pinot gris VT and gewurztraminer SGN too, but that the grapes didn't really gain much during the mid-October rainy spells, and that there was relatively little noble rot.)

91
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