German Wines at Dallmayr's '09 Spring Tasting (long ramble)

German Wines at Dallmayr's '09 Spring Tasting (long ramble)

Posh Munich fine food retailer Dallmayr for a few years now has had two wine tastings a year: A larger overview of German and Austrian wines in the spring, and a smaller selection of wines from all over the world in autumn. Nicely set in Munich's old city hall, they're rare chances to get a first glimpse at that year's yachting and horse riding fashion trends (always comes in handy), as well as knock yourself out on pricey wines you would not otherwise get to taste. Admission is 20 € which includes free snack foods that - to Dallmayr's credit - are quite delicious.

Wine rambler, as always, sent an inconspicuous taster to investigate.

Two things before I get started: One, deduce some 20% off Dallmayr prices to arrive at sane prices such as you will pay from numerous merchants for those same wines. Second, you could base a little sociology of German upper middle class neo-bourgeois pretentiousness on the tasting's motto "Winzerelite". But that's for some different ramble.

Rudolf Fürst, Franken:

Rudolf, I'm sorry to report, seems to be a winemaker of the "If your customer doesn't know your wines already, evidently he is not worthy of them and deserves no more than condescending sideways glances" - school of wine presentation (the master of whom we'll meet very soon...)

His 2008 Riesling Centrafenberg (18,50) had very high acidity and seemed otherwise well made, but also unmistakeably apricoty.

2007 Spätburgunder Klingenberger (28,50) was also seamlessly made, smooth-edged, no doubt a very fine Pinot, but with little character and no secrets.

2007 Frühburgunder "R" Centrafenberg (75,00) was excellent, very fresh, very elegant, flawless, but no more than that.

Peter Jakob Kühn:

2008 Rheingau-Riesling trocken (8.20) may have damaged the gums of my teeth irreparably with its aggressive acidity. Seems undrinkable at this stage.

2008 "Quarzit" Riesling trocken (13,50) has a little more substance to counter the acidity, which is almost as prominent and rough here.

2008 "Landgeflecht" Riesling trocken (21,50) really brings the minerality and substance to put the acidity into some kind of harmony, very tight wine that - I can imagine - might become very interesting over time.

I then had the following conversation with P. J.:

J: Well, the first thing I notice is the acidity. That's really the vintage's signature, isn't it.
PJK: No. Not at all. All my wines have harmonic, balanced acidity.
J: [And they may just have eaten a hole into my digestive tract] Well, it's not that I mind strong acidity, but it does seem a lot higher than in other vintages.
PJK: Analytically, maybe. But that means nothing. Riesling lives by its acidity, and these wines have just the acidity they need. 2008 is a very good vintage for us.
J: Oh, I'm sure. At what kind of age do you yourself preferably drink your Rieslings, by the way?
PJK: I taste them continually.
J: I had this 05 Landgeflecht some time ago, and I was surprised by the change from how I remembered it as a young wine. It was fascinating, but I really didn't know what to make of those grainy, malty notes.
PJK: Well, wines evolve. They change. 2005 was a very good vintage for us, and the 05 Landgeflecht has everything a great Riesling should have.
J: Ahm, okay. Thank you.

Robert Weil, Rheingau:

2008 Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Auslese (43,50) was sweet and very tasty, all I remember thinking is that Haart can do at least as good for half the money.

Scharzhof Egon Müller:

I have a tiny bit of a pricing issue with this producer, but that being said,

2008 Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett (29,90)
2008 Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese (59,90)

were without a doubt the greatest fruity Rieslings I have ever tasted: Both of them with nobly understated, reduced sweetness, great balance and searing minerality, liquid stone, as clichéd as it sounds, salty, and a smoked bacon taste, feathery light, but all over your nose and mouth. How sublime this stuff was came out in comparison with Fritz Haag's 2008 Braunberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spätlese (19,50) and Forstmeister Geltz-Zillikens 2008 Saarburger Rausch Spätlese (16,90). Both were excellent, but they seem rather rough-edged, just a little too sweet and a little too sour after the Egon Müller.

Dönnhoff's 2008 Riesling Tonschiefer trocken from the Nahe (12,50) was dominated by strong acidity again, and seem really just plain sour at that stage.

Reichsrat von Buhl (Pfalz) had a 2008 "Ungeheuerlich" Riesling trocken (25,50), which reminded me of Kühn's "Landgeflecht" in that there was substance there to buffer the acidity, and that I imagine it might settle into a more harmonic stage over 1 or 2 years, and a 2008 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese (14,50), which I liked for it's plumpness and richness that just wrapped up the acidity. 2008 could be the vintage for fruity Riesling south of the Mosel, as well as for Silvaners and Weißburgunder that can be lacking in acidity in hotter years.

Köhler-Rupprecht (Pfalz) had a widely priced Philippi Pinot Noir "R" (35,00 for the half-bottle) that was an internationally-styled Pinot, very dense, much oak, impressive, but not my cup of tea.

Holger Koch (Baden) had a 2008 Grauburgunder *** (16,80) that was surprisingly oaky and a little alcoholic, but fresh none the less, and a 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve (34,50) in the lighter, german Pinot Style, very light colour as well, but undoubtedly very elegant, with some depth.

Ziereisen (Baden, Markgräflerland) had the cheapest and - for me at least - best Pinots, a great Syrah, and the best stories: He likes his Pinots from the mid-nineties, which have aged better than he would have dared to hope, but he's bored and annoyed with his much too alcoholic and heavy efforts from 2000-2004 ("He wanted too much - that's what the label should say"). He's happy that the 07 have only 12.5-13.00 alcohol, he thinks that pinot should have much more tannin and acidity than we're used to in Germany, and he's happy with his 07 on that count.

I agree, 07 Pinot Noir "Schulen" (18,50) was my favourite, fresh, fresh, fresh, wonderful to drink, while the 07 Syrah "Gestad" (21,50) had dark chocolate, bitter cassis, and reminded me favourably of a Bordeaux from the Médoc.

Within 5 minutes, I also heard in detail about his visit to the Swiss Pinot Guru Gantenbein (He's not a Dürrenmatt character, he's real - I googled him) and his recent tasting of a 1930 Gevrey Chambertin ("cost me a fortune, but god, was it good..."), and that he labels all his wines as "Tafelwein Oberrhein", because he hates the guts of the wine bureaucrats that use to give him grief because they found the wines "atypical" for Baden Pinot Noirs, and so decided to simply forego the appellation approval.