In stark contrast to last year, when Repeal Day elapsed without a taste of wine passing my lips, I spent yesterday, the 75th Anniversary of the abolition of prohibition, pouring some great German wines. As it happens, I was happy to be serving them alongside the men who grew them, some of the finest producers from their respective regions. While there was nary a lowlight on the evening, certain wines in each grower’s lineup inevitably showed their mettle.
Young Frank Schönleber (pictured above), in his second year holding the winemaking reins at Emrich-Schönleber, is already demonstrating that he has a great grasp of the terroir in his slice of the Nahe. His 2007 Monzinger Halenberg Riesling trocken is just beginning to show its stuff. Beautiful fruit, intense minerality and fine filigree are all balanced by depth and muscle that hint at a fine future to come.
It was a true pleasure to sip the 2007 Bacharacher Riesling Kabinett trocken of Jochen Ratzenberger. However, it was his 2005 Steeger St. Jost Riesling Großes Gewächs that stole the show, demonstrating that the best German wines from top quality sites can possess every bit as much richness and profundity as the top whites of the Côte de Beaune and Chablis, while also showing a level of bundled nerve and fruit expression that similarly priced white Burgundies rarely achieve.
I also really enjoyed meeting Andreas Laible for the first time. Though the focus at his estate is on Riesling, he was kind enough to diversify the evening’s slate by opting to pour examples of his other varietal wines. Though I’d find greater day-to-day flexibility in his lovely Weißer Burgunder Kabinett trocken, it was his 2007 Baden Ortenau Durbacher Plauelrain Traminer Spätlese trocken that begged for attention, its decadent nose of flowers, herbs and citrus oil balanced by fine acidity and rich, prickly texture.
Spending a little bit of time with the three of them yesterday – along with thinking about the wines as I write about them now – made me pine for a return trip to Germany. There’s so much more to explore….