Can a glass of wine stop the work in its tracks? Okay, the millennium bug did non destroy the world in intercontinentally ballistic style in 2000, the great cosmic whatever that the Mayan calender predicted for 2012 appears to be off-schedule so far. The world's foundations had just started to look a lot less shakeable. But now this: A sparkler? From Haart? I should explain, maybe, that the very fine Haart family winery is my Co-Rambler Torsten's favourite Mosel winery, and has been featured here more times than any other. With their vibrant Kabinetts. With their supremely balanced Spätlesen. With their lip-smacking Auslesen. But never with a sparkler. Because there hasn't been one in our living memory.
But there it was, not to be denied or explained away. There it stood, a classy bottle, and a bit too heavy to be just a figment of some Rambler's unhinged imagination (but then, who would imagine such a thing, a Haart sparkler?).
Torsten had come by the sparkler as a gift of a dear friend and brought it along to the last Wine Rambler committee meeting, and so we decided that evening that I should do the reviewing for a change. So here's what I remember about a wine that shocked and awed us before the cork was even out of the bottle:
A nose of peachy and yeasty aromas. Not a surprise, but a serious nose, rather subdued. Lovely fruit on the tongue, with great depth and Haart's trademark balanced elegance. Creamy, but without the toasted brioche-component that you get in Champagne. Again, this was unmistakeably Riesling, but less obviously so than I had expected. Getting a little fruitier with air exposure, with a stylish slight note of bitterness on the finish. Both in the nose and on the palate, I had expected something more playful, with a sweetness-acidity-act going on. But this was bone dry, delightfully so, and quietly powerful.
The strong, silent type, then. Not a talker. Not a braggart. This sparkler knows about the world. It has seen some things. And it needs good food to shine.
What about this mystery sparkler thing, then? Here's what Torsten could find out directly from Johannes Haart:
"This is indeed the first Sekt that we have made for almost 20 years. The last vintage before it was 1990. My father had stopped producing it after that, because hardly anybody was ready to pay good money for German Sekt back then. We see ourselves as a *wine*ry, the Sekt is for our own enjoyment, and something of an experiment from "left over" wine of a particular vintage. Also, not every vintage lends itself to this, after all Riesling Sekt from the Mosel can be quite heavy on the acidity. 09 was ideal in this regard, although the alcohol content was a little high (13%).
Making it a "brut nature" [i.e. no dosage] was a decision guided by our taste alone. We tried different levels and kinds of dosage, from extra brut to "dry" [i.e. off-dry; it's complicated...]. The brut nature showed the finest fruit, a good harmony and beautiful drinkability. The more sweetness, the simpler it became, too fruity in a way, and less drinkable. Our ideal was really the subtle and elegant style of champagne."