Owing to the blockage of maturity during the summer of '05, Jean Meyer harvested a number of his riesling parcels in three separate passes, as he had major differences in the ripeness of the grapes, even within bunches. "We have had to wait to see the quality of the 2005 rieslings," he told me. "The wines are strict but they're not simple." The pinot gris and gewurztraminer bottlings here are also big and rich, but Meyer believes these wines will need time in bottle to develop their flavors. And he pointed out that he managed to produce pinot gris with alcohol levels in the low 13s, rather than the 14% level seen in 2004 and 2003, which he feels is too high for this variety. Meyer noted that his production levels in 2005 were the lowest he has ever had with the exception of 2003. (Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, IL)
($50) Brooding, deeply pitched aromas of smoke and honey. Fat, round, broad and dry (just three g/l r.s.) but with decent acidity; a bit topheavy today and in need of 12 to 18 months in bottle to sort itself out. A distinctly mouthfilling wine that leaves a tannic impression. "We extract fine tannins from the skins," noted Jean Meyer. "This gives the wines a fullness on the palate, and a bigger expression-like a red wine."
(the first vintage for this wine, from pinot blanc and pinot gris in Herrenweg, with the two varieties literally growing on the same vines) Aromas of orange peel, flint, smoke and hazelnut. Supple, suave and quite dry; even a bit uncompromising today. Conveys a strong impression of soil character. Finishes youthfully firm, with a light touch.
(gewurztraminer with some pinot and muscat) Musky aromas of quinine, ginger and flowers. Gives a sweet impression on entry, but this is lively and quite dry (under three grams r.s.), even rather delicate. Offers lovely life in the mouth and finishes with good spine. Lingering notes of herbs and flowers. Serve this with Italian antipasti or spicy Asian cuisine, suggests Meyer, who referred to it as his "cuvee Thai."
($29) Lime and spice on the nose. Subtle and firm in the mouth if a bit youthfully disassociated, with a dominant flavor of citrus peel. Meyer noted that this wine was easier prior to bottling and has tightened up. He then showed me a second batch of this wine just prior to bottling. This sample showed some piquant minerally high tones as well as complicating notes of mint, herbs and caraway seed; on the palate it was firmly structured but slightly tart, suggesting a wide range of ripeness. My projected score was 87-88.).
($45; mostly from Herrenberg) Bright, pale yellow. Pineapple and flowers on the nose. Quite dry and tight, with firm, moderately ripe flavors of lemon and lime, plus a whiff of cooked apple. This is quite strict today. I picked up a distinctly malic note. This was from the last trie through these vines; the first two went into the Kottabe.
Highly aromatic nose blends citrus fruits, white peach, pineapple, minerals and nuts. Round, ripe and easygoing, conveying a moderately sweet impression (actually five g/l r.s.) and good stuffing and depth. A nicely balanced wine with lovely flavor intensity for '05 riesling.
($60) Aromatic nose of pineapple, spices and fresh herbs. Juicy, firm-edged and dry, with bracing, rather powerful flavors of lemon, lime and petrol. Finishes with a suggestion of skin tannins. Offers good breadth but this is much less extroverted today than the '04 version. These 60+-year-old vines produce very small berries.
($75; this took six months to ferment, vs. one-and-a-half for the Brand) Exotic aromas of pineapple, coconut and flowers, with hints of lime skin and wet stone. Fatter and more glyceral than the Brand, conveying a sweeter impression. This went through malolactic fermentation, which has imbued it with a riper acidity than the Brand. Will be more pleasing to most consumers in the near term, but the Brand has more grip and complexity. The fruit here was harvested in multiple passes, from September 15 until the end of October; in contrast, the Brand was picked in a single pass in mid-October.
($34; tasted from tank just before the bottling) Gold-tinged yellow color. High-toned aromas of soft citrus fruits, butter and marzipan. Supple, rich and fairly dry; big and broad but a bit stunted today. Possesses structure and size but finishes with some drying tannins. Not a fruity style of pinot gris.
($75) Reticent but complex nose comes across as fresher and deeper than that of the '04. Concentrated, fresh and deep, with a touch of youthful austerity. The orange and spice flavors show very good intensity and linger nicely on the back. This is not yet expressing its personality, but there's solid structure here for aging. A big boy, with 14.4% alcohol and about nine grams of residual sugar.
($75; 14.2% alcohol, with 17 g/l r.s.) Superripe aromas of soft citrus fruits, honey, spices, smoke and butter; very pinot gris! Fat, thick and rich, with a suggestion of almost candied sweetness. A very ripe but reasonably structured pinot gris that verges on heavy. Finishes with some alcoholic warmth and good length. "With five grams less sugar this would have been perfect," said Meyer, noting that this should have been picked one day earlier.
(from 60-year-old vines that produced grapes with "leathery" skins in '05; 14% alcohol) Pale, bright yellow. Captivating aromas of smoked meats, spices, pineapple and floral oils. Fat, dense and sweet but shapely; a plump, opulent wine with strong material and a note of licorice. Almost a parody of gewurztraminer, notes Meyer; this tastes sweeter than its three g/l r.s. Meyer adds that with biodynamic farming, "you can't find the alcoholic warmth in the wines."
Pure, high-pitched aromas of smoked meat, cinnamon, rose petal and minerals. Fairly dry but rich and classic, with lovely harmonious acidity giving shape and thrust to the fruit, spice and mineral flavors. Youthfully tight but very pure and vibrant. Conveys a sense of lurking power. Finishes long and spicy, with a hint of licorice. This sample was slow to open, and I suspect this wine will shut down soon in the bottle. Meyer calls '05 his best vintage for gewurztraminer since '89 but notes that he did not make any Brand.