As I noted in Issue 129, Rene Mure has a different take on the 2005 and 2004 vintages than most of his neighbors in Alsace. He considers his 2004s to be more opulent and larger-scaled, while the 2005s here show more delicacy, with the concentration coming more from passerillage than from botrytis. (Yields here averaged just 40 hectoliters per hectare in '05, according to Mure.) "Two thousand five is a vintage that favored the terroir over the variety," said Mure, who added that he considers a gout de cepage (the typical taste of a variety) to be a fault in a wine. Only gewurztraminer was harvested after the rains of early October, said Mure. "We didn't get good rot," he admitted, "and the skins turned a bit flaccid." (Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C.)
Also recommended: 2005 Pinot Noir Cote de Rouffach (85), 2005 Muscat Tradition (86).
($33; aged in 50% new and 50% once-used barriques Full red. Smoky oak, ripe plum, redcurrant and raspberry on the nose, along with a stony nuance. Rich, supple and sweet, with a sappy quality to its dark cherry fruit. As seamless and suave as this is, it's a fairly powerful pinot in need of aging. Finishes firmly tannic, subtle and persistent, with sound structure and underlying spice character.
($45; this is actually from younger vines than the "V") Good full, deep red. Smoky aromas of cherry, cinnamon and earth. Then juicy and fresh in the mouth, with fairly complex flavors of spicy red berries, plum, earth and smoked meat, complicated by a saline note. Finishes with good spice character and fine-grained tannins that turned a bit dusty with aeration. This is actually a bit lower in acid and alcohol (13.2%, vs. 13.5%) than the "V" but it's in a more elegant, nervy style in spite of its sucrosite, thanks to the schist soil. Rene Mure ages this in all-new Troncais barrels, in the belief that this wine needs the controlled oxidation of new oak. The fruit in this south-facing parcel of vines was picked on September 18.
($12) Pale, bright yellow. Subtle, pure aromas of lemon, mandarin orange, peach, apricot and flowers. Supple, fat and fairly dry, with gentle, ripe acidity. Tastes sweeter than its very low two grams of residual sugar would suggest. Nicely pliant wine with good persistence. Rene Mure recommends serving it with quiche Lorraine or with charcuterie
($13) Bright, pale yellow. Fruit-driven aromas of dried peach and apricot, with a buttery nuance. Silky, round and soft, with just enough acidity to maintain its freshness and shape and buffer its ten grams of sugar. Flavor of vineyard peach. Very easy to drink.
($17) Medium yellow. Pineapple, white flowers and a hint of stone on the nose; aromatic and delicate. Juicy, fresh, off-dry (ten g/l r.s.) and light on its feet, with energy and a cool, crunchy character coming from the limestone soil. Not a complex style but offers a limey intensity and good balance.
($24) Bright yellow-gold. Aromas of peach, lemon, cream, butter, honey and herbs; a bit atypically exotic for this cuvee Densely packed and surprisingly sweet (actually, 62 g/l r.s.), even a bit syrupy, in an almost VT style. Strong yellow fruit and honey flavors are nicely framed by ripe, harmonious acidity. Mure recommends serving this as an aperitif or with an Epoisses
Yellow-gold. Subdued aromas of yellow fruits and lichee, with a suggestion of more exotic dried pineapple. Supple, delicate and rather dry (actually nine g/l r.s.), currently hiding its volume after a recent racking. I like the combination of exotic fruits and bitter-edged pink grapefruit. Offers a very suave texture.
($45; 17 g/l r.s.) Pale yellow-gold. Discreet, precise aromas of very ripe fruits, rose petal and minerals. Suave, sappy and complex, with impressive palate presence. Less obviously large than the "regular" Vorbourg but more vertical and more complex; conveys an impression of fat without weight. Flavors of very ripe citrus fruits, spices and minerals. Quite fine-grained, suave and long, with a note of lemony acidity leaving the mouth refreshed. (Incidentally, I tasted a finished bottle of this in early June, but my bottle was distinctly earthy, even swampy, and was almost certainly not representative of this wine.)
($33) Pale yellow-gold. Subtle aromas of soft citrus fruit, peach, honey, smoke and earth. Sweet, lush and penetrating, with almost riesling-like acids and a spicy element framing the flavors of apricot, orange and honey and leavening the wine's glyceral texture. Intriguing suggestion of marzipan. Very suave, sweet and easygoing wine from a low crop level. This fruit bomb finished with 12.5% alcohol and 50 g/l r.s. But the overall impression is fresh and soil-driven.
($45) Tangy aromas of orange, honey and flowers. Fatter and sweeter than the Lutzeltal despite possessing lower residual sugar (35 g/l r.s.), but less fruity today; rather powerful and chewy but not heavy. Strongest today on the mounting back half; this is a full degree higher than the Lutzeltal pinot gris and comes across as more massive, not to mention more tannic. This sturdy wine should be served with food or, better yet, cellared for at least three or four years.
($40) Pale gold color. At once expressive and delicate on the nose, offering nectarine, peach and spring flowers. Fairly sweet but light; a wine of finesse more than obvious density or size. This lighter, sandstone-based soil gives a more elegant style than Clos St. Landelin, notes Rene Mure. Tastes drier on the end than its 50 grams per liter of r.s. suggest.
Bright gold. Intriguing aromas of peach, apricot, flowers and chicken broth with dill. Then supersweet and fat with fruit, with the fresh herb quality running through the wine. Not particularly complex or nobly rotten but in a distinctly crowd-pleasing style. This very ripe site can't produce a light style, notes Mure.
($42; from a site just below Vorbourg) Deep, full gold. Ripe apricot nectar, honey, earth and smoked meat on the nose. Quite plump and pliant, with slightly aggressive flavors of apricot, smoked meat, earth and spices. Just a tad warm; I found myself wishing for a bit more sweetness to buffer the alcohol. A velvety but somewhat heavy style, with a trace of tannins on the back.
($45) Subtler aromas of honeyed yellow fruits. Sweeter in the mouth, with enticing flavors of superripe peach and apricot. This is much lacier and more delicate than the Schutzengass, silkier and less phenolic. Nicely detailed fruit flavors are complemented but not overwhelmed by a meaty nuance. Finishes with very good aromatic persistence. I like the balance here.
($48) Deep, bright gold with an orange tinge. Orange peel and honey aromas lifted by nutmeg and flowers. Opulent and rather powerful on the palate yet suave, with flavors of dried apricot, rose petal and creme brulee complicated by an iodiney minerality and a suggestion of sake. Quite round and full, but the ripe acidity gives freshness to this big mouthful of wine. Finishes smooth, sweet and persistent, with notes of rose oil and nutmeg. This finished with about 14.5% alcohol and 70 grams of residual sugar.
($64) Pale gold. Fresh aromas of apricot, lemon, honey and vanilla. Supple on entry, then racy and taut, with electric acidity leaving the mouth fresh. Tangy, sharply detailed SGN, with superb inner-mouth tension and tang. A real high-wire act, and much more savory than the gewurztraminer Clos St. Landelin VT, which was picked at near-SGN weight. Boasts terrific fruit but not quite the complexity for an even higher score.