As I noted in Issue 129, the 2004 harvest was a tricky one for Bernard Schoffit, as his prime Rangen holding was slammed by a week of rain in late October before he was able to harvest it. Two thousand five was a much less traumatic growing season that produced rich wines with surprisingly sound balancing acidity. (Weygandt-Metzler Importing, Unionville, PA)
Also recommended: 2005 Chasselas Vieilles Vignes (86), 2005 Muscat Tradition (86), 2005 Riesling Tradition (85), 2005 Pinot Gris Colmar (86).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Pinot Noir Tradition, 2005 Pinot Noir Cuvee Dessus*.
($19) Bright, pale yellow. Aromas of peach blossom and spice lifted by a floral topnote. Sweet (ten g/l r.s.), rich and creamy, with a ripe peach flavor and moderate acidity (this wine went through malolactic fermentation). Plenty of body and fat here; this is almost chardonnay-like in its texture. Remains just this side of heavy.
($45) Nuanced nose combines lemon, flint, flowers and fresh herbs. Supple and quite dry (actually five grams of residual sugar), with suggestions of menthol and crushed stone. In a rather elegant style and not at all exotic. Finishes pliant and persistent. Schoffit used to rent these 60-year-old vines but finally purchased them in 2005.
($55; 13.2% alcohol, 9 g/l r.s.) Ripe aromas of butter, lichee and smoked meat, complicated by earthy and salty nuances. Sweet, dense and concentrated but given shape by firm, juicy acidity. At once full and lively, with a powerful mineral underpinning. There's something almost gewurztraminer-like in the wine's spiced meat and saline elements, yet this comes across as quite elegant. A soil-driven, very deep riesling with a very long finish.
($55; from fruit higher on the slope than the Rangen but harvested at the same time, as Schoffit was not looking to make a VT style; 13.9% alcohol and 8.5 g/l r.s.; this fermented until July of '06) Bright, green-tinged color. Meaty, spicy, earthy and smoky on the nose, with an exotic floral topnote. Fatter in texture than the Rangen, but penetrating acidity gives this cuvee a drier impression and a slightly disjointed youthful aggressiveness. Offers more cut but less elegance and purity than the Rangen. At the time of my tasting, Schoffit did not think this one was going to the U.S.
($22) Rather delicate aromas of lime and flowers. Supple, sweet and floral in the mouth, with an enticing sugar/acid balance and good subtle persistence. Nicely juicy for '05 riesling, and pure on the back end.
($24) Pale color. Reticent but fresh nose hints at spice. Fat, spicy and sweet; conveys very good depth of yellow fruits and floral oils without coming across as hot or aggressive-a neat trick as this is 15+% alcohol, with 30 g/l r.s. Good ripe acidity prevents this from going over the top.
Bright, pale yellow. Spicy nose dominated by cinnamon and rose oil. Sweet and glyceral but quite stylish, with very ripe but lively flavors of rose petal and smoked meat. Lush and mouthfilling wine with enticing inner-palate perfume. Finishes smooth and aromatic, with a saline suggestion. This would be lovely on its own. Began with the same potential alcohol as the Cuvee Caroline but finished with considerably more residual sugar and lower alcohol. I like the balance here.
Fresh, lemon-yellow color. Highly expressive, varietally accurate nose combines cured meats, gunflint, spices and yellow fruits, plus that distinctly Rangen smokiness. Opulent and thick but almost magically silky and light on its feet for all its power and sweetness (59 g/l r.s.). Highly spicy in the middle palate, with an intriguing saline nuance. The finish boasts superb persistence of smoked meat flavor.
Pale yellow-gold. Reticent but exotic aromas of apricot and honey. Sweet and moderately glyceral, with bright acidity (nearly 8 grams per liter, according to Schoffit) helping to buffer the wine's 65 grams of sugar. Dominant flavor of apricot. Surprisingly fresh but youthfully unevolved and not yet particularly complex. I'd hold this for two or three years.
Pale yellow-gold. Aromas of smoked meat, mirabelle, quince, spices and lichee; there's something almost gewurztraminer-like about the wine's smoky character, but this is the cru speaking. Dense but bright and penetrating, with intriguing lift and definition for such a rich wine (14% alcohol and 65 g/l r.s.). This boasts excellent acidity and finishes suave and light on its feet, with noteworthy persistence.
(harvested at essentially the same time as the regular Rangen cuvee but with 50% noble rot) Pale gold color. Reticent, very ripe aromas of stone fruits and spices; pure but very unforthcoming today. Tightly wound and not at all overly sweet, with a deep, sappy core of ripe peach, apricot and spice flavors. This is less expressive than the regular bottling and rather unformed on the back but its lovely ripe acidity, considerable richness, superb length and honeyed lift suggest that it will ultimately make the more impressive wine. But I'd drink the regular Rangen first. This fermented for ten months and then was racked just prior to the August bottling.
(this cuvee will be designated with a different lot number on the label) Withdrawn nose hints at honeycomb, smoked meat and spices. Very sweet (110 g/l r.s.) and dense but not heavy, with penetrating acidity giving definition and lift to the chewy, saline, carnal flavors. The other cuvees of pinot gris Rangen were from fruit with potential alcohol of 17.5%; this was picked at 20.5% and was originally going to be bottled as SGN, but Schoffit thought it was too high in alcohol and not sufficiently liqueur-like.
(from 100% botrytized berries harvested with potential alcohol close to 30%, according to Schoffit) Fairly pale in color but pours with noticeable thickness. High-toned, vibrant aromas of dried apricot, orange marmalade, honey and exotic spices; like a Tokaj Eszencia Hugely thick and glyceral but with enough acidity and piquant spiciness to leaven its sweetness. Downright sensual wine with an exotic honeycomb character. I never would have guessed this had 11 grams of acidity, but then I probably would not have said 350 g/l of residual sugar either. Schoffit made this entirely in stainless steel as he was afraid of losing freshness. Will this elixir remain under the limit for VA?