Karthäuserhof, Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2007
Drinking wine is expectation management. It is many other things too, and I would hope on most occasions the expectation management is invisible, but sometimes it can become centre stage when writing a wine review. If your expectations are low but the wine delivers, is there a risk you praise it too much? And if your expectations are very high, will you be led to write a review that compares the wine with your expectations instead of looking at it on its own merit?
The above-pictured late harvest from the Mosel tributary Ruwer falls into one of these two categories for me, so approach with care.
Last year I left a job at an organisation I thought I'd never leave as I identified with its mission, had a very interesting remit, much flexibility and great colleagues. For reasons best explained over a glass of Riesling I moved on regardless (to find myself lucky with a great post elsewhere, a story for another glass of Riesling), and my lovely (now former) colleagues gave me some fantastic leaving gifts. These included a pump-action NERF gun that can be equipped with a detachable shoulder stock (I used a smaller version to impose discipline at work meetings), books about food and booze and also some actual booze. Including this bottle of 2007 late harvest. My ex-colleagues know my preferences too well.
Anyway, so there we have a special gift from special people for a special occasion, and it comes from a good vintage and an great producer (so well respected that my co-Rambler in a previous review went as far as to say they "never screw up"). The wine just had to be mind-blowing to stand up to that.
And well, it was not. Mistake me not, we are still looking at a classy wine here, a wine that should satisfy discerning palates. It just did not excite me enough on that occasion to truly want to sing its praise. So let me just state my impressions and then leave it to you to decide whether you think it might excite you.
The Karthäuserhofberg has a calm yet lively bouquet: a calm base - waxy, earthy, cellar aromas and a bit of spicy wood - but also more live apple, ripe stone fruit and a touch of citrus, possibly also some passion fruit, with caramelised notes. The latter in particular let the nose end on a juicy, quite appealing smell, but the cool cellar aromas remain. On the tongue it is round, quite juicy, enjoys a nice long finish with a spicy touch that also shows the acidity. In terms of flavour apple, grapefruit, ripe peach, herbs, a hint of decaying undergrowth feature, and the finish has a touch of sherbet. It is juicy, but overall balanced by the acidity. Even so I kept thinking I did not get the wine at the right stage of development as at the core it lacked some of the complexity I had hoped for, perhaps something that time will bring with a stronger marriage of acidity and sweetness?
Was the time not right for the Riesling, or for me? I am not a hundred percent sure, but I think a bit of both. Still a very good wine, I just did not quite feel the love I had hoped for. If that is a good enough way to reflect the disclaimer about the expectation management I am not sure, but here we go.