Thursday, April 30, 2015

Comte LIGER-BELAIR -- 2012s from cask and one from bottle tasted in autumn 2013 (Vosne-Romanée)

The information contained here and the comparison with the recently-published report on 2012s from Liger-Belair from bottle make this worth repeating from issue 141 of The Fine Wine Review:

With the addition of white and red Nuits-Clos des Grandes Vignes as well as its counterpart in red, the list of wines here is getting quite long, even if there is not much to be had of any one wine, especially in 2012. Louis-Michel Liger-Belair said that he began harvesting around 23-24 September. Production, at 40% less than normal, was significantly less than in 2011, which itself had been 15% less than normal. For the most part, he did no whole cluster fermentation in 2012 (we’ll see a couple of exceptions, though). (Continue reading here.)

Rudolf FÜRST -- 2012 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Grosse Gewächse and 2013 Riesling Grosses Gewächs (Franken)

Along with Bernhard Huber, Rudolf, and now his son Paul, Fürst is for me the very top name for Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) in all of Germany, no small statement. When visiting the estate a few years ago, I was served an amazing half bottle of 1990 Spätburgunder. Paul Fürst then told me that his father at that time had to make up how to make the wine on his own because red wine making was not taught in Germany at the time!

Fürst is also an excellent source for Riesling and Silvaner (there is a consistently fine Riesling-Silvaner blend made there). And the quality is across the line there, not just the GG’s. Unfortunately, for this most recent year, I have only the GG’s to review. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Comte LIGER-BELAIR -- 2012s from bottle (Vosne-Romanée)

Louis-Michel Liger-Belair continues to make marvelous wines; the only problem is that so many of his holdings are so small. My review of the 2013s from cask (and one from bottle) is located here. The review of the 2012s tasted from bottle in autumn 2013 is here and contains reviews of additional wines and much more information about vintage conditions and how the wines were made. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CASTELL-CASTELL -- 2013 Silvaner (Franken)

This is the negociant arm of the Castell estate in the immediately preceding post. These wines are almost always excellent values, as is the case in 2013. Here, I tasted two different lots of the same wine. (Continue reading here.)

FÜRSTLICH CASTELL’SCHES DOMÄNENAMT -- 2013 Silvaner and Riesling (Franken)

The last few years here may not have been up to the level that this estate formerly was producing, but still, there are quality wines here. (Continue reading here.)

Alain BURGUET -- 2012s from bottle (Gevrey-Chambertin)

As with many estates in Burgundy, there have been various changes over the years here. One significant one was the decision in 2005 to pick much later than previously, thereby giving riper, rounder tannins and wines that are less rustic, at least in their youth. And then after a long and distinguished career, Alain retired following the 2009 vintage, leaving the estate in the hands of his sons Eric and Jean-Luc. The vines are now farmed organically and there is stricter selection of the grapes that go into the vats. The future looks bright. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

SALWEY- 2011 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Grosse Gewächse (Baden)

Bernhard Huber, whose Pinot Noirs I reviewed yesterday, may be the leading estate in Baden for that grape, but there are others also producing outstanding Pinot Noir. Take Salwey, for instance, in the 2011 vintage, generally less easy than 2012. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Alain HUDELOT-NOELLAT -- 2012s tasted from cask in autumn 2013 (Chambolle-Musigny)

Having just posted notes on several of Hudelot-Noëllat’s 2012s from bottle here, it might be interesting to compare those notes with my observations in autumn 2013 when I tasted them from cask, reprised from Issue 141 of The Fine Wine Review. Also for comparison, my notes in autumn 2014 to Hudelot-Noëllat’s 2013s from cask are found here.  Unlike many, I consider the cask tastings generally to be a better insight to the eventual potential and development of the wines than the tastings from bottle.

From Issue 141: (Continue reading here.)

Bernhard HUBER -- 2012 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Chardonnay (Baden)

There are a number of estates in Germany producing world-class Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder), but in my experience, the two that rise above all the others are Paul Fürst in Franconia and Bernhard Huber in Baden. As I’ve mentioned before, Huber tragically died last June while in his mid-fifties. His son Julian has taken over as winemaker and Bernhard's wife and daughter are also continuing the estate, and let us hope that the quality of the past continues.

I’ve never seen vines as beautifully tended as Huber’s. And the great wines I tasted on a visit to the estate went beyond the Spätburgunders: one of the finest sparkling wines I’ve ever tasted was on that visit, and the wines from Chardonnay can be excellent (the one reviewed below is just the entry-level Chardonnay).

The GG’s below were tasted quite young and may be underestimated for that reason. (Continue reading here).

Friday, April 24, 2015

Alain HUDELOT-NOELLAT -- 2012s from bottle (Chambolle-Musigny)

Charles Van Canneyt had the privilege to take over an estate with great holdings, and has made the most of it. Although still quite young (if I recall correctly, when I visited last November, he was only turning 26), he has been turning out wines of head-turning quality and making the wines of this estate highly sought-after. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ökonomierat REBHOLZ -- 2013 Riesling Grosse Gewächse (Pfalz)

Hans Jörg Rebholz makes wines that can seem as demanding of the drinker as he is on himself. A friend calls his wines the Protestants of their area in the Southern Pfalz. But in the end, he is one of the greatest producers of Germany making wines of uncompromising purity and depth. Alas, I did not get to visit last year, as I usually do, so I have only these two wines to report on from 2013. They are among the top GG’s I tasted from the vintage. (Continue reading here.)

Theo MINGES -- 2013s (Pfalz)

When I wrote that Bergdolt-St Lamprecht and Eugen Müller were the two most underrated estates that I know in the Pfalz, I almost added Theo Minges to that group. In the end, I decided that the wines there have come so far so fast and still will continue to rise, so that I’ll instead say that the estate is about to join that group. Theo’s daughter Regine has been working with her father for a few years now and clearly has the passion and talent to continue the improvements. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

BERGDOLT-SANKT LAMPRECHT -- 2013 Riesling Grosses Gewächs and 2012 Pinot Noir Grosses Gewächs (Pfalz)

Along with Eugen Müller, the wines of which I reviewed yesterday, Bergdolt-Sankt Lamprecht remains ridiculously underrated in the Pfalz. I’m sorry that I only have these two wines to report on from current releases.

The estate produces wine mainly from three grapes: Riesling, Pinot Blanc (Weissburugnder), and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). The wines from each are magnificent. The Pinot Blancs can age magnificently and come to resemble great, in some cases very great, Chablis.

One thing to note about this estate is that the non-GG wines can often be as good, and even better, than the GG’s here. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eugen MÜLLER -- 2013 Rieslings (Pfalz)

This 17-hectare estate is not well-known, presumably because (1) much of the production is sold to private customers and (2) it is not a member of the prestigious VDP, unlike its more famous neighbors such as Winning, Buhl, Bassermann-Jordan, Mosbacher, Bürklin-Wolf, and Acham-Magin. But make no mistake, the vineyards and the necessary human input are here, allowing savvy customers to enjoy wines from some of Germany’s greatest vineyards at a fraction of the price of the wines from those same vineyards from the other producers mentioned above.

Most observers, including me, rate the Forster Kirchenstück as the greatest vineyard in the Pfalz, and Müller owns an enviable 25% of that vineyard. That alone should cause heads to turn, but he also has substantial holdings in the Forster Jesuitengarten, which many, myself included, would rate as probably just behind Kirchenstück in quality, and there are also holdings in Ungeheur, Pechstein, Freundstück, and Musenhang in Forst, all outstanding vineyards. I often call Forst the Vosne-Romanée of the Pfalz. Müller has no monopoles like the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti does in Vosne-Romanée, but on the other hand, even with its incredible holdings, DRC cannot claim, as can Müller, that it has holdings in every great vineyard in its village. Additionally, Müller has some holdings in Deidesheim (which I call the Chambolle-Musigny of the Pfalz), Ruppertsberg, and Wachenheim.

These great vineyard holdings wouldn’t mean a lot if Stephan Müller didn’t do what was necessary in the vineyards and the cellar to bring out their potential. But since he is doing a top job, the reason for interest is obvious, and therefore, as I wrote a few days ago, this is one of the most underrated producers in the Pfalz, and indeed all of Germany. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A. CHRISTMANN -- 2013 Riesling Grosse Gewächse and 2011 Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs (Pfalz)

The last several vintages, Stefan Christmann has been on fire, producing some of the finest wines of all the Pfalz. Is this his biodynamic practices taking hold? (Other biodynamic producers in Germany such as Rebholz, Wittmann, and Clemens Busch similarly are at top of the heap.) These 2013s weren’t quite at the top of the class for that vintage when I tasted them, but they could well develop beyond the potential I saw at that time. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dr. H. THANISCH (THANISCH Erben) -- 2013 Rieslings (Mosel)

There are two Dr. H. Thanisch estates, the result of a split many years ago. To make matters even worse, the two estates used essentially identical labels. A new, somewhat simplified label for this estate now differentiates it from the other. The easiest way to tell the two estates apart is that this one belongs to the VDP organization and bears the stylized VDP eagle on the label and capsule. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Domaine de BELLENE: A Few 2011 and 2012 Reds and Whites (Beaune)

In 2008, Nicolas Potel left the negociant operation that bore his name and established Domaine de Bellène for estate wines and Maison Roche de Bellène for negociant wines. Many of the sources for the Potel wines followed him to the new twin operations. As had been the case with the Nicolas Potel wines, these wines (and the Maison Roche de Bellène wines that I will review tomorrow) show considerable variability. Since the same wines tend to show better (or worse) from one vintage to the next, I have always taken this variability to reflect the fact that some of the vineyard sources are considerably better than others. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

2013 Reichsrat von BUHL: 2013 Riesling Grosse Gewächse (Pfalz)

These were the only GG’s I saw from von Buhl in 2013; I am aware that there additionally was a Kirchenstück produced; I do not know if there were any other GG’s (from its holdings, Buhl can produce at least seven different GG’s). Although there are some good wines here, overall, this group is not up to Buhl’s usual standards. 2013 was the year that Mathieu Kauffmann left the Bollinger Champagne house to join Buhl (in time to harvest and make these wines). We will have to wait a few years to get a bead on whether this was a vintage that partly went awry or one that just needs more time to come into focus. Certainly, 2013 was not an easy vintage to become used to a whole new producer and region. (Continue reading.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

MÜLLER-CATOIR: A Selection of 2013s (Pfalz)

In 2003, Martin Franzen had the unenviable task of succeeding the legendary Hans-Günter Schwarz, cellarmaster since 1962. With these wines, Franzen begins his second decade. His style is more refined than that of Schwarz, but the wines over the years have proved to be equally outstanding with great precision and harmony.

This is only a small selection of Müller-Catoir’s 2013 offerings, but it shows the quality that could be obtained in this vintage by top producers. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

ACHAM-MAGIN 2013 Riesling Grosse Gewächse (Pfalz)

In yesterday’s post, I referred to Dr. Bürklin-Wolf as arguably the most famous producer in the Pfalz. An interesting and related question is who is the producer in the Pfalz of great wines who is least well-known. Off the top of my head, three producers immediately come to mind: Acham-Magin, Bergdolt-St. Lamprecht, and Eugen Müller.

Today I’ll discuss the first of these three, and the other two will come in the next several days. Anna-Barbara Magin doesn’t especially seek out publicity for her 8 hectare estate, but the consistently high quality of the wines can’t help but make them known to and sought out by Pfälzer wine fanatics. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dr. BÜRKLIN-WOLF 2013 Riesling Grosse Gewächse (Pfalz)

This is a very good collection from what is arguably the most famous producer in the Pfalz. I should add that in addition to the wines below, I tasted a Jesuitengarten GG, but it was so far below these wines in quality that I am not writing it up because I did not get a chance to try a second bottle, and so there is a substantial chance that the bottle that I tasted was not representative. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2013 Von WINNING Rieslings and a 2012 Pinot Noir (Pfalz)

Andreas Hütwohl said that production was slightly lower in 2013 than 2012. This has quickly become one of the iconic estates of the Pfalz – great vineyards and intensely dedicated viti- and viniculture make for an unquestionable combination of top quality, even in a difficult year such as 2013. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, April 6, 2015



This estate is under the same ownership as the P. J. Valckenberg negociant (and exporting) operation. It owns most of the Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück vineyard in Worms, a high quality vineyard that lost its reputation through the creation of Liebfraumilch from other vineyards that began in the first half of the twentieth century. The recent wines here have been doing a major job of restoring the reputation of that vineyard; 2013 was less good than other recent vintages, but there are still decent wines to be had. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2013 Dr. LOOSEN Grosse Gewächse (Mosel)

It took the Mittel Mosel some time to come up to the other Mosel regions in quality of dry wines, but it has come around in the last few years, and Loosen has been one of the leaders.

This is an excellent set from a not-easy year in that region. Each of these wines is an outstanding representation of its own terroir. They are outstanding to drink already but should improve for some years and then hold for a time after that. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

2013 BATTENFELD-SPANIER Riesling Grosse Gewächse (Rheinhessen)

Along with the previously-reviewed Wittmann, Groebe, Keller, and Wagner-Stempel, this is one of the estates you simply must try in order to appreciate why the Rheinhessen currently is one of the most exciting wine regions in all the world. And then there’s a host of other producers just behind these five. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2013 WITTMANN (Rheinhessen)

If you don’t know this estate and are interested in white wines, you must search out the wines. I include Wittmann in the small number of very greatest white wine estates in the world. The wines are fabulous for their precision, energy, penetration, and balance. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2013 K. F. GROEBE Grosse Gewächse (Rheinhessen)

Of the three great producers in the Wonnegau, centered around Westhofen, Fritz Groebe is known far less well than the other two, Klaus-Peter Keller and Philipp Wittmann. But that is due to Fritz’s modest manner and the fact that he exploits so little property (less than 9 ha), and a large portion of his production, I believe, is sold to private customers. This is a property worth seeking out, though. (Continue reading here.)