"The 2005 vintage is less about purity and elegance than it is about opulence, volume and structure," said Felix Meyer, who is particularly high on his gewurztraminer cuvees from this year. Pinot gris can also be superb, he added, provided it wasn't picked too late. Meyer emphasized that he always picks early, to retain adequate levels of acidity, especially in gewurztraminer. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA)
Also recommended: 2005 Gentile (86), 2005 Muscat (86), 2005 Riesling (86), 2005 Riesling Vignoble de Katzenthal (86).
($16) Good pale color. Exuberant aromas of marmalade, apricot and honey; suggestions of noble rot. Rich on entry, then rather glyceral in the middle, with an exotic, chardonnay-like character to its flavors of peach, spices, mint and lichee. From fruit harvested a half-degree riper than in 2004. This tastes sweeter than its three grams of sugar would suggest. Felix Meyer left this on its lees, without batonnage, until the bottling.
($22) Pale color. Rich aromas of apricot, orange, smoke and butter, with suggestions of tropical fruits. Fat, rich and sweet, showing a more glyceral texture than the '04 version. I'd wait another six months for this to absorb a bit more of its sweetness. This is 14+% alcohol with 7.5 g/l r.s. (This producer's basic muscat and riesling bottlings in 2005 are also well-made, with the muscat classically dry.)
($23; from a variety of soil types) Pale-medium yellow. Rather fine aromas of yellow plum, rose oil and clove. Suave on entry, then fine-grained, subtle and fairly dry, with good richness to its spicy, floral flavors. This tastes considerably drier than its 17 grams of residual sugar would suggest. With its firm structure and good persistence, this should work well with spicy dishes.
($33) Bright yellow. Zesty crystallized lemon peel, smoke and a stony note on the nose. Broad, quite dry and a bit youthfully unforthcoming, with a firm edge of acidity keeping the pineapple and grapefruit rind flavors under wraps today. Avoids coming off as hard but offers good rather than excellent ripeness and complexity. Some blockage of riesling maturity in 2005 had more of an effect on flavor than on alcohol, admitted Meyer.
($35; from complex clay, sandstone and marl soil that Meyer says gives a powerful style) Bright, pale yellow. Musky, oily aromas of yellow plum; a bit reduced and low-toned. Broad, concentrated and chewy but not yet expressing its personality; this shows good acidity but it's not yet integrated. The finish is persistent but a bit tough and dusty. Meyer believes that his '05 rieslings will evolve like the '99s, but feels that the new vintage is more concentrated and will get minerally earlier. Still, I wonder where this wine can go in bottle.
($32; from chalky soil) Good pale yellow. Musky yellow plum aromas showed a slightly swampy element that dissipated with air. Moderately ripe and fat, with slightly low-toned flavors and an essentially soft texture. This is actually very low in sugar but tastes a bit sweet, perhaps due to low acidity (the wine went through malolactic fermentation). An easy style, with good length but modest definition.
($30) Ripe, musky aromas of exotic fruits and smoke; smells glyceral! Then sweet, spicy and stylish, with very good concentration to the flavors of ripe nectarine, spices and smoke. Cleaner, longer and stronger than the '04 version. Meyer always includes a bit of chardonnay, which he says brings lemony acidity and has the effect of lowering the wine's alcohol.
($29; from the east-facing portion of the Sommerberg hill; soil rich in granite) Pale, bright yellow. Delicate aromas of soft citrus fruits, minerals and crushed stone. Juicy and penetrating, with lovely integrated acidity leavening the wine's sweetness (23 g/l r.s.). This is downright austere today on the back end, with stony acidity reminiscent of riesling and refreshingly bitter notes of minerals, quinine and orange. Built to age. Meyer notes that this site gets less sunshine, and as the acids can be high he doesn't seek to make totally dry wines.
($35; the least rich of Meyer's three "regular" 2005 gewurztraminers, from fruit picked without noble rot) Pale color. High-pitched aromas of rose petal and mint; subdued following the recent bottling but quite pure. Spicy, high-pitched and firm, with saline and dusty stone nuances. Youthfully closed but nicely balanced and pure. This persistent, off-dry wine will need a year or so in bottle to express itself.
($35; 25 g/l r.s.) Pale yellow. Musky, varietally expressive aromas of yellow fruits, spiced meats, ginger and floral oils. Supple, spicy and juicy, with a distinctly chewy character to the fruit and spice flavors. The wine's saline element makes it appear drier than it really is. Powerful but not heavy, finishing broad but with a light touch.
($38) Medium yellow. Mint, meat and floral oils on the nose; the most feminine of Meyer's gewurztraminers. Supple, spicy and elegantly styled; ripe, sweet and smooth. Less obviously powerful than the Kaefferkopf but subtler. The granite soil brings a wine with less obvious structure and power but lovely detail and complexity. I love the impression of mid-palate sappiness without weight.
Pale yellow. Very pure, vibrant nose offers pineapple, minerals and dusty stone, with a spiced meat character emerging with aeration. Sweet, deep and fine, with complex floral and spice character and lovely sugar/acid balance. This is best on the long, subtle, rising finish, where the wine's granitic purity is manifest. Meyer told me that a lot of this late-harvested fruit went into the regular grand cru bottling. He also let me know that his father always told him that granite was best suited for riesling-a notion he dispelled with his '05s.
(12% alcohol with 70 g/l r.s.) Pale, bright yellow. Slightly high-toned aromas of honey, apricot and orange. Fat and sweet but kept fresh by good spicy lift and juicy acidity. Moderately thick for VT but very pure and impressively long. Really impeccably balanced wine, with the cut to work perfectly with foie gras. About 30% of these grapes were affected by noble rot, said Meyer.
(picked on 10/20 at 138o Oechsle, or potential alcohol of just over 19.5%) Very pale bright yellow. Very pure, high-pitched aromas of musky flowers, ginger, quinine and nuts, with a suggestion of spiced meats. Moderately glyceral but not at all heavy; this stands out for its concentration of acidity, its firm structure, its purity and its sheer vivacity. Superripe pineapple, pear and spice flavors are downright explosive on the back end. As ripe and rich as this is, it retains a juicy quality and terrific flavor definition.
(from a pass through the vines for entirely nobly rotten berries before the VT was picked) Musky, carnal aromas of honey, fresh yellow fruits, orange zest and mineral dust. Fairly glyceral on entry, then juicy, dense and very sweet (about 200 g/l r.s.) but with terrific balancing acids. At once chewy and smooth, with great purity and freshness to the botrytis character. The flavors of orange, apricot, nectarine and honey are complicated by a smoky note from the vineyard (this was done entirely in stainless steel tank). Extremely long and pure on the finish. This is too good right now, but it's hard to believe that it won't go on for a decade or two in bottle.