Laurence Faller
Photo Credit: Stephen Tanzer
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If the Fallers picked around rain and rot in 2004, they captured the best of the harvest of 2005. These are very ripe wines with considerable botrytis character and surprisingly firm acidity. But although there was botrytis everywhere, winemaker Laurence Faller noted, there won't be any VT or SGN rieslings. During my extensive tasting of 2005s and 2004s in September, I was able to compare both vintages of each wine side by side and almost invariably preferred the 2005s for their combination of aromatic purity, depth of flavor and exhilarating sugar/acid balance. For her part, Faller described the 2005 rieslings as "Trimbach-style." She finds the 2004s to have a creamier texture to buffer their acidity, but then I love the Trimbach style and thus had an easy time appreciating the penetrating quality and cut of the '05s. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL)
Also recommended: 2005 Muscat Reserve (86).
Other wines tasted: 2005 Sylvaner Reserve.

2005 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc Reserve

($27) Pale color. Pure nose offers a hint of citrus peel and an attractive floral perfume. Then supple and juicy, with restrained flavors of citrus and spice. Quite dry but not austere or hard. This has character and grip.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Reserve Personnelle

($29) Pale, green-tinged yellow. Delicate, steely aromas of powdered stone and lime. Juicy, tight and primary, with firm acids enlivening the lemon, lime and stony flavors. There's plenty of richness here but this wine comes across as quite dry (it's actually seven g/l r.s.) and firm on the finish, with lovely spicy perfume. Just this side of austere but not hard. Much more successful than the '04 version.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvee Theo

($37; from older plots in the clos around the house) Pale, bright yellow. Very pure if subdued aromas of lemon, lime, underripe pineapple and wet stone. Rich and fruity, with firm acids framing the soft citrus flavors. This is at once fuller and deeper than the Reserve Personnelle, but a bit more backward, even austere. Finishes with sneaky persistence and breadth.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg

($44; from vines at the top of the hill) Pale, green-tinged color. Cool, restrained, rather aristocratic aromas of lime, mint and powdered stone. Juicy, pure and detailed, with dusty peach pit and mineral elements perking up the salivary glands. This very dry, long wine is almost painful today. A lovely, pure dry riesling in the making-but give it a few years in the cellar.

2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvee Saint Catherine

($49; bottled with a glass stopper) Pale green. Complex aromas of citrus skin, ripe peach and spices, with a tangy whiff of botrytis. Spicy, dense and rich but quite backward and wound-up. This, too, is classically dry in style, with nearly exotic mace and nutmeg notes perking up the palate. Finishes very dry and very long, with flavors of pineapple and dusty stone. Penetrating and rather austere-in need of aging. This is mostly from the bottom of the Schlossberg, but 20% of the wine comes from outside the grand cru border.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvee Saint Catherine

($66; from 62-year-old vines on the midslope) Pale yellow. Powerful stony minerality lifts the aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and citrus rind. Juicy, high-pitched and penetrating, with the powerful mineral character stimulating the salivary glands. This has strong acidity (actually the highest here since '96, notes Laurence Faller) but a touch of sweetness gives it near-perfect balance and prevents it from coming off as hard. The long finish throws off hints of minerals, fresh herbs and mint. This was also bottled in 375 ml. and 1.5 liter format.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvee Saint Catherine L'Inedit

($79; 13.2% alcohol, 25 g/l r.s. and 8.3 grams acidity) Pale, green-tinged color. Perfumed nose combines lime blossom and powdered stone. Sweet but tangy, with a lovely light touch and noteworthy lift to the citrus and floral flavors. The botrytis element here contributes personality. Laurence Faller notes that some blockage of maturity resulted in an element of uneven ripening and has given this wine higher acidity than it would otherwise have. I find this utterly exhilarating. Finishes minerally and very long. This, too, is from 62-year-old vines on the midslope; the family began separating the richer juice from this parcel with the '98 vintage. This should be spectacular with six to eight years of additional bottle aging.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Cuvee Saint Catherine

($59) A real botrytis tang to the aromas of honey, spice and strawberry (!). Sweet, chewy and fairly dry, thanks to lively acidity. This juicy wine shows lovely cut and finishes drier than its 14 g/l r.s. would suggest.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Cuvee Laurence

($62; from vines averaging 32 to 35 years of age, planted on clay, sand and limestone soil below Altenbourg) Good pale color. Aromatic spicy, buttery nose lifted by a floral element. Sweet peach and orange flavors show an exotic aspect, but ripe, harmonious acids give shape to the wine. Finishes pure, bright and firm, with excellent grip. This is carrying 22 g/l r.s., but with higher acidity than the Cuvee Ste. Catherine, the finish seems less sweet.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Altenbourg

($71) Pale color. Tangy, slightly high-toned aromas of mandarin orange, honey and spices. Juicy and sweet, but with racy acidity leavening the wine's 42 g/l r.s. Pure botrytis tones, an enticing flavor of fresh apricot and a lovely sugar/acid balance make this brisk wine extremely easy to drink. The fruit shows an almost riesling-like quality.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Reserve Personnelle

($36) Pale yellow. Precise aromas of cured meats, nutmeg and spring flowers. Dense but juicy, with strong acidity partly hiding the wine's 20 grams of residual sugar. Offers an intriguing meaty complexity. A chewy, serious, firmly built gewurztraminer that really needs to be served with food.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Theo

($44) Pale, bright yellow. Pure, vibrant aromas of spiced meats and cinnamon. Penetrating, juicy acidity gives a refreshing sugar/acid cut to the flavors of spices and floral oils-not to mention striking definition. Pure, ripe and intensely flavored gewurztraminer, finishing with good, lightly tannic grip. Strong for this bottling.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence

($58) Good pale color. Captivating, high-pitched nose offers yellow plum, gingery spices and licorice. Dense, lush, glyceral and chewy yet almost magically light on its feet, with saline and spice elements framing and lifting the wine's fruit. Floral in the mouth and on the long, vibrant finish. This is 13.8% alcohol with 35 well-buffered grams of r.s. Should make a great partner at the dinner table: Laurence Faller recommends serving it with Thai dishes, tandoori chicken, or lobster done with a vanilla-based sauce.


2005 Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Altenbourg Cuvee Laurence

($71) Pale yellow. Expressive aromas of ginger and cured meats. Densely packed, sweet and tactile, with extravagant flavors of mirabelle, spices and flowers. Offers a near-perfect combination of sugars and acids and a dusty impression of extract. Finishes with excellent length and an absence of phenolic roughness. Incidentally, this is the only gewurztraminer cuvee at Weinbach where the 2004 appears to be in the same class as the '05.

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