Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Various 2012 and 2011 Wines from Franken (Franconia), Württemberg, and Baden

Below are notes for 2012 German wines that I previously have not reviewed and other late-released German wines from the Franken, Baden, and Württemberg. 

GG is used as an abbreviation for Grosses Gewächs, a designation for top dry wines from top vineyards, but only those in the hands of members of the prestigious VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter) organization for Grosses Gewächs, the designation that the VDP uses for top dry wines of its producers from their top vineyards. As a result, though, vineyards such as the Maximiner Grünhäuser Abtsberg and Herrenberg of Dr. C. von Schubert cannot qualify for GG status because the estate is not a VDP member. Nevertheless, the vineyards and the wines are universally recognized as among the best in Germany. See www.vdp.de for further information on GG

In the notes below, I have mostly used the wording given on the label I have seen. Thus dry = trockenhalbtrocken off dry (but halbtrocken today usually means dry-tasting, and feinherb is usually used to designate an off-dry wine), Pinot Noir Spätburgunder. Words in parentheses are not found (by me) on the front label, but are indicated on the back label. However, labels can vary significantly by market or shipment. Scores in parentheses indicate that I tasted a cask sample.


2012 (Escherndorfer) Am Lumpen Silvaner gg               92/A
Fröhlich’s Am Lumpen Silvaner GG is steely and mineral in the nose. The mouth is steel and pure with good penetration, a medium-weight body, and smoothness. Importer: Winesellers, Int’l, Skokie, IL.

Rudlof FÜRST
2012 Riesling    pur mineral 91/A-
2012 Bürgstadter Riesling 92+/A
2012 (Bürgstadter) Centgrafenberg Riesling 93+/A
2012 (Bürgstadter) Centgrafenberg Riesling   gg 94/A

2012 Weiss Burgunder    pur mineral 90/A-
2012 Silvaner    pur mineral 87+/B
2012 (Bürgstadter) Centgrafenberg Silvaner 91+/A-

2012 Spätburgunder    tradition 91/A-
2011 Klingenberger Spätburgunder 92/A
2011 (Klingenberg) Schlossberg Spätburgunder   gg 92/A
2011 Hundsrück Spätburgunder    gg 92/A
Fürst is widely- and justly-known as one of the very top producers of Spätburgunder in Germany. But the white wines are also most worthy of your attention, especially in 2012. The “pur Mineral” is from red sandstone soils. The wine is salty, medium-full, calm, and mineral with yellow fruits. The Bürgstadter is clear and pure, medium-light and shows more finesse in its flavors than the pur Mineral and more white fruits than yellow. The wine is salty with lively acidity. The Centgrafenberg is still more sophisticated in the nose. The mouth is sleek, medium-light, and elegant with white fruits and purity. Last of the Rieslings, the Centgrafenberg GG is similar to the regular Centgrafenberg but with ab bit more weight and breadth – without sacrificing the elegance.

The Weiss Burgunder “pur Mineral” is raised in large wooden casks, one of which is new in this vintage. About ¾ of the surface from which it comes is limestone, the rest red sandstone. This Pinot Blanc has a sleek, racy mouthfeel and is medium-weight. The wine is stony with a kiss of butter and good liveliness. Stylistically, it resembles the best Pfalz Pinot Blancs, no small praise. Fürst’s Silvaner “pur Mineral” is mostly from limestone soils. It is opulent and rich but finishes light with some minerality. 13.5% stated alcohol. More to my taste is the Centgrafenberg Silvaner, a wine that Fürst makes only in the best years and in the same style as his Rieslings. The wine is focused and pure with good acidity, incisiveness and saltiness and it is lighter than the pur Mineral.

The 2012 Spätburgunder “tradition” is entirely from the Centgrafenberg vineyard – younger vines and less steep locations. In this wine, there is no limestone soil. The wine is raised in barriques that are 2-4 years old, and the grapes are entirely destemmed. Raspberries fill the nose. The mouth is pure with red and black raspberry fruit and the wine is medium-weight. It is most impressive as an entry-level wine. 13.0% stated alcohol (in fact, 12.9% alcohol). 2011 was not a simple year for Spätburgunder, yet Sebastien Fürst thinks that his 2011s will last longer than the 2010s because they have better balance. The 2011 Klingenberger Spätburgunder is toastier on the nose than the previous wine, but there is fruit there beneath the toast. The mouth is pure with raspberry and strawberry fruit and the wine is round with enough acidity, good length and tannins for aging. 13.0% stated alcohol. The 2011 Schlossberg Spätburgunder GG is entirely from red sandstone soils. About 40% whole cluster fermentation here. It shows roundness and wildness, making one think of Morey-St.-Denis or Gevrey-Chambertin, quite an achievement. The 2011 Hundsrück Spätburgunder GG is about 60% whole cluster fermentation from vines that are about 35 years old. Is the fullest and most powerful of the 2011s here, but it has the balance and finesse to go with the red fruits and sufficient acidity to make an outstanding wine.  Importer: Cellars International, San Marcos, CA.

2012 Scheurebe 84/D
2012 Silvaner trocken 86/C
2012 Weisser Burgunder trocken 86/B-

2012 Würzburger Silvaner (trocken) 90+/B+
2012 Iphöfer Silvaner (trocken) 90/B+
2012 Würzburger Riesling (trocken) 89+/B

2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner trocken 92/A
2012 Würzburger Stein Silvaner trocken 93/A
2012 Würzburger Stein Riesling trocken 92+/A
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Riesling trocken 91(+)/A-
2012 Würzburger Stein traminer 91/A
2012 Rödelseer Küchenmeister Silvaner trocken 92/A

2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter Berg Silvaner (trocken)    gg 94/A
2012 Würzburger Stein Silvaner (trocken)    gg 93/A
2012 Würzburger Stein Riesling  (trocken)  gg 93/A
2012 Volkacher Karthäuser Weisser Burgunder  (trocken)     gg 88+/B
On this trip, Juliusspital opted to show the wines not in varietal order, but rather by the new ranking that the VDP is imposing, that is, generic, village, vineyard (Ortswein from Erste Lage) and GG (from Grosse Lage). Certainly, the differences in level in 2012 are clearly notable, and given the size of this estate (177 ha – second largest in Germany), one can expect that the individual vineyard wines get more attention than the generic bottlings. The vintage was relatively difficult here because lack of water meant that some of the vines shut down, and as a result, there was more declassification to the basic wines than it usually the case.

The Scheurebe has herbal notes in the nose. The mouth is medium-light and off-dry with some firmness and decent length, but on the whole this is not an inspiring wine. 14 g/l residual sugar, so the wine would not qualify as trocken. The Silvaner trocken is ry with Silvaner floweriness, good penetration and decent acidity. 12.5% stated alcohol. The Weisser Burgunder trocken is firm with good acidity, medium-weight, and some liveliness and raciness. 

Moving to the city/village-designated wines , there is a major step-up in quality. The Würzburger Silvaner has typical floral aromas. The mouth is fruity, flower, dry, and medium-light with good length and chalkiness (the Würzburg limestone soils). The wine is quite dry, which I like. The Iphöfer Silvaner (mostly from the Kronsberg vineyard) is more floral in the nose. The mouth is a bit herbal and a bit more austere than that of the Würzburger, but it develops nicely in the mouth. The Würzburger Riesling is clear, medium-weight, light on the palate and shows white fruits with a bit of saltiness.

For the single vineyard wines (Erste Lage in the VDP nomenclature), the Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner trocken has stony aromas. The wine is medium-full in the mouth and very stony and dense with intensity, saltiness, and acellent acidity. 13.5% stated alcohol. The Würzburger Stein Silvaner trocken is the last of three bottlings of this wine. The nose is stony and flowery. In the mouth, the wine is light, flowery, stony, and austere with less power than the Kronsberg, and it seems to float above the tongue. 14% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 034-13. The Würzburger Stein Riesling trocken has salty aromas. The mouth is medium-full, salty and very intense and penetrating with good acidity and plenty of minerality. 2.3 g/l residual sugar here. 12.5% stated alcohol. Juliusspital’s Iphöfer Kronsberg Riesling trocken is relatively closed for the moment. The wine is medium-weight and not as dry as the Stein (3.6 g/l residual sugar here), with linear development in the mouth and pleasing stone and herbal notes. 13.5% stated alcohol. The Würzburger Stein Traminer (Traminer is a variant of Gewürztraminer) is spicy with rose and some gold elements in the nose. The mouth has excellent acidity with some sweetness at first (16 g/l residual sugar) and then a dry finish. There is juiciness to this wine. The Rödelseer Küchenmeister Silvaner trocken is medium-full and stony with some juiciness, just the slightest hint of butter, and a fair amount of power. 14.0% stated alcohol.

The Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner GG has walnut and floal aromas. The mouth is citric with good acidity, nervosity, and freshness. The wine is clear and intense and is a great bottle of Silvaner. 14.0% stated alcohol. The Würzburger Stein Silvaner GG has chipped stone aromas. The mouth medium-weight and restrained with some fullness and oiliness plus a touch of creaminess. It, too, should develop into an outstanding wine. 14.0% stated alcohol. The Würzburger Stein Riesling GG has mineral aromas. The mouth is medium-light with minerality, penetration, and plenty of power. 13.5% stated alcohol. The Volkacher Kathäuser Weisser Burgunder GG is raised 40% in barriques. The wine is intense, powerful, creamy, dry, and long, but very closed. It will be interesting to see how this wine develops. 14.0% stated alcohol. Importer: Winesellers, Int’l., Skokie, IL.

2012 Silvaner trocken 88/B
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner Kabinett trocken 90/B+
2012 Iphöfer Kalb Silvaner Kabinett trocken 90/B+
2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter Berg Silvaner Kabinett trocken 91+/A-
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner    alte reben 92/A
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner   gg 93+/A
2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter Berg Silvaner    gg 93/A
2012 Silvaner    sister act 92/A

2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Riesling Kabinett trocken 92/A
2012 Iphöfer Julius Echter-Berg Riesling Kabinett trocken 92+/A
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Riesling    gg 92+/A
2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Riesling    gg 94/A
2012 Riesling    sister act 92+/A

2012 Iphöfer Scheurebe Kabinett trocken 90/A-
2009 Iphöfer Kronsberg Scheurebe     alte reben 91/A

2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter Berg Riesling Auslese 94/A
2012 Iphöfer Julius-Echter Berg Riesling Beerenauslese 96/A
2012 Iphöfer Kronsberg Riesling Eiswein 95/B+
Wirsching may have gone through a period in the early 2000s when the wines, while still very good, were dropping behind those of other top producers in the region, but that seems to be in the past, and the domaine has come back strongly. The quality is even more impressive given that this is one of Franken’s largest estates (80 ha, as of a couple of years ago). The simple Silvaner trocken is a good introduction to the quality here. The nose is salty. The mouth is medium-weight, salty, and pure with green apple flavors and enough acidity. 12% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 006-13. The Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner Kabinett trocken is crisper and stonier with medium-weight and complete dryness. 12.5% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 029-13. The Iphöfer Kalb Silvaner trocken is medium-weight, salty, clear, dense, and rounder than the Kronsberg.  Wirsching’s Iphöfer Jiulius-Echter-Berg Silvaner Kabinett trocken has floral aromas and flavors. The wine is medium-weight, firm, and light on the palate with great clarity and extra class. The Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner “alte Reben” shows extra density but is still balanced, classy, salty earthy, and intense. It is medium-weight. Wirsching’s Iphöfer Kronsberg Silvaner GG has smoky aromas, followed in the mouth by salty green apple flavors. It is a very tightly-knit wine. The Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner GG features yellow flowers and some celery seed in the nose. The mouth is smooth, classy, and firm with tropical fruit.  The Silvaner “Sister Act” is from an old vineyard on Keuper soil that has been farmed organically for many years. Indigenous yeasts and large wood casks are used on the wine. It shows orange rind aromas, followed in the mouth by medium weight, liveliness, and greater nervosity than the others.

Moving to Riesling, the Iphöfer Kronsberg Kabinett trocken has floral white flower aromas. The mouth is pure and crystalline, lively and focused, It is still quite young when I taste it, but it is brilliant. The Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Kabinett trocken is lightly floral in the nose. This wine is still quite young when I taste it, but deep, pure, crystalline, and mineral. Wirsching’s Iphöfer Kronsberg GG has white flower aromas. In the moiuth, the wine is bigger than the Kabinett and round and mineral with intensity and penetration. The Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg GG is pure, penetrating, crystalline, mineral, and airy – a wonderful wine. Like its Silvaner counterpart, the Sister Act also is on Keuper soils, and I believe that here, too, farming has been organic for some time and indigenous yeasts are used. The nose is minera. The mouth is long, and unctuous, but not fat, with with minerality and purity, and it is medium-light in weight.
The Iphöfer Scheurebe Kabinett trocken has herbal (positive) aromas. The mouth is very firm and ripe for Scheurebe with penetration and lightness. The Iphöfer Kronsberg Scheurebe “alte Reben” has celery seed aromas. The mouth is more intense and penetrating than the previous wine. It is medium-weight and powerful, but also with lightness.

The Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Auslese has a little botrytis in it and was harvested at -5ºC. The wine is light, easy, floral, and medium-weight with very good length. The Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Beerenauslese shows strong botrytis aromas and flavors of brown sugar and honey, along with typical Julius-Echter-Berg grassiness. The wine is creamy in texture and impressive for drinking already. Last, the Iphöfer Kronsberg Eiswein has some botrytis and honeyed notes. The wine is medium-weight and shows length and development in the mouth, but not the super acidity of the finest of Eisweins. Importer: Cellars International, San Marcos, CA.


2012 Lemberger trocken 87+/B+
2012 Spätburgunder trocken 87(+)/B
(2012) Neipperger Spätburgunder 88(+)/B
The Lemberger trocken is dense and rich with dark fruit, peppery spice, and good acidity. The usual resemblance to a Loire Cabernet Franc is there, but this wine, whether because of the vintage or a change in conception here, goes a little further and needs more time to fully develop. 13.0% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 3-12. The Spätburgunder trocken is a most impressive effort, given that this is the estate’s entry-level Pinot Noir. The wine is tannic and needs time to open – as with most young German Spätburgunders, I would recommend a two-hour decant before serving. But the wine is fragrant with sensual dark cherry fruit that continues on the palate in a medium-light body with good acidic support and freshness. Ideally, hold this wine for 5-8 years. 13.0% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 030 13. The Nipperger Spätburgunder shows a little more oak, finesse, and depth, but the two Spätburgunders are clearly cut from the same cloth. 13.0% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 1-12 (sic). Importer: Valckenberg International, Jenks, OK.


Bernhard HUBER
2011 Spätburgunder   alte reben 92/A
2011 (Malterdinger) Bienenberg Spätburgunder   gg 92+/A
2011 (Hecklinger) Schlossberg Spätburgunder   gg 92+/A
2011 (Bombacher) Sommerhalde Spätburgunder gg 93+/A
2011 Chardonnay 87/B-
It is with the greatest sadness that I must report the Bernhard Huber, my choice as Germany’s greatest Pinot Noir producer and, based on the two times I met him and what others say, an outstanding individual, died this past spring at far too young an age. His son, who has studied for the wine profession, and his wife, who worked alongside him, are carrying on the estate, and we can only hope that they continue the wonderful wines here. Give the Alte Reben 15-30 minutes in a decanter, and then the wine opens to show pure, focused, crunchy strawberry and red currant fruit with quite a bit of nuance, supported by excellent acidity in a medium-weight body. You can love it now, but it should also age quite well. 13% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 20 13. The Bienenberg Spätburgunder GG is intense, pure, differentiated, long, medium-weight in texture, and light on the palate. It is a wine that top Chambolle-Musigny producers would have been happy to produce. The Schlossberg Spätburgunder GG has dark fruit aromas. The mouth is light with dark berry flavors, but this wine is more closed than the Bienenberg. The Sommerhalde Spätburgunder GG is fres with purre red and black cherry fruit that is incisive, pure, and precise. Last, the Chardonnayhas some minerality in a somewhat oily, medium-full body, but at least for the moment, doesn’t have the precision and distinction to take it to the next level, and it finishes a touch hot. 13% stated alcohol. Last digits of A.P. Nr.: 14 13. Importer: Valckenberg International, Jenks, OK.