Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Scheurebe Moment

I’ve been focusing on the Loire an awful lot of late. A shift of gears, at least a quick one, seems in order. Ever since reading a little wine poetry at James Wright’s Wine-Wein-Vino-Vin recently, I’ve had Scheurebe on my mind. A vaguely Germanic meal last night seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I reached into the cellar and found…

Baden Ortenau Durbacher Plauelrain Scheurebe Spätlese trocken, Andreas Laible 2005
$28. 14% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
I added a couplet to James’ poem. To read it, you’ll need to follow the link above and dig into the comments. For now, suffice it to say it was something about grapefruit, a very typical aromatic characteristic of Scheurebe. Laible’s Spätlese troken, though, has changed considerably since I last wrote about it and even since I last poured it at a class on German wines at Tria Fermentation School. It’s no longer so redolent of grapefruit. Part of that, I think, is just the wine’s natural concentration. Grapefruit, citrus and even catty aspects seem common to lighter styles of Scheurebe. But at a richer level, as with this Spätlese, riper aromas often kick in. Add to that a little more bottle age and the wines can start to show fleshier, less tangy characteristics. That’s exactly where Laible’s 2005 Scheurebe is at the moment.

The first glass was poured right out of the cellar, a bit too warm. The fact that it showed well at that temperature is a testament to the wine’s quality. The higher than ideal temp brought out a honeyed, round, not at all unappealing aspect. There was an undeniable blast of grapefruit right up front, but super ripe, sweet grapefruit, followed by lots of floral and sweet herbal scents. Lavender comes to mind. After a little chill down, more interesting things started to happen. Orange oil, peach nectar – definite peach nectar – and a light streak of white pepper emerged. With air, the wine became creamier in texture, developing a little vanilla edge. On the downside, its alcohol also became more apparent.

This is a monster of a wine. Not as unctuous as a similarly ripe Gewürztraminer but every bit as heady and concentrated. Spice, yellow flowers – goldenrod and marigolds – and peach nectar dominate. There’s an electrical spark of energy in its prickly texture, just enough to keep the wine from being plodding or domineering. But it still comes close to being over the top. The wine’s physiological concentration reminds me of marmalade, minus the jellied texture but complete with all the citrus peel bitterness. This needs food richer than what I paired it with (no, I’m not telling). I’d go right back to choucroute as we did two years ago. Maybe even roast goose. Roast pork at the very least, perhaps with an apricot or peach glaze. If you happen to have a bottle in your cellar, don’t hesitate to hold it for a couple more years. It’s still a wee one.


TWG said...

Any chance of the 2007 being imported through the same distributor?

David McDuff said...

I hate to say it, TWG, but it appears not. Laible's Riesling, Weissburgunder, Grauerburgunder and Traminer from '07 are all available but there's no sign of the '07 Scheurebe.... Don't know why.

Anonymous said...

Melissa here from Unami Ridge Vineyard in Upper Bucks County, PA. We are one of two Scheurebe growers in the region. We have an award winning 07 and awaiting the uncorking of our 08. Check us out when our tasting room opens in the Spring of 2010.
We aim to be the top bottle of Scheurebe in the US by 2011!!! Enjoy you wines!

David McDuff said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melissa. I'll try to do the same -- at the winery -- when I get up that way. I've not tried any local Scheurebe.

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