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  1. #1

    Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    TN:A New Mosel Terroir Worth Watching:05 M.F. Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesl Spl --cross post from eRobertParker/Squires



    TN: 2005 M.F. Richter Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Spätlese, AP 2 593 049 19 06; 9.5 pabv; 29.99/750 ml, Arrow Wines, Centerville, OH; Langdon Shiverick, Inc., Cleveland, OH.

    I've been excited of late by a few chances I've had to taste Dirk Richter's wine from a distinctive and different vineyard on the Mosel, with a unique and exotic terroir.

    The occasion? Took some time out for a breather from my bourbon rebarrelling experiment (see http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/...d.php?t=114250 et al.) for some palate-cleansing 2005 German Riesling, the Kabinett incarnation of which has already been discussed here. Doug Lehrer reported on it (see http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/...d.php?t=114185 ), having obtained it at the same price I paid for this at the same store. One wonders if an unintended switch occurred somewhere.

    One of the few loess-humus vineyards in the Mittlemosel, or anywhere else in this region, and an unduly neglected one, having already achieved classed-growth status at the time of the American Civil war on the Steurrates Clotten. Actually one gets different ideas of the soil here from different people. It may be that there is a significant amount of highly absorptive kaolin clay in this vineyard, which could have a strong positive effect in providing trace minerals to the vine roots. In any case it has minimal slate. It's wholly-owned by Richter; it was named after two Prussian princesses, one named Luisa and one Elizabeth. It travels across the commune boundary into Mülheim, and measures about 3.8 ha (9 acres). It came into the family due to some outstanding military services of an ancestor against one of the Napoleons. Dr. Dirk is proud of the great longevity he sees in wines made from this plot.

    This wine is listed with a residual sugar of 80.8 and a respectable acidity of 8.1. These numbers, together with the moderately high alcohol for type of nearly 10 percent, lead us to expect a large-scale wine.

    Neutral-yellow in color with a slight but unmistakable hint of pink. Cotton candy and motor oil predominate on opening; almost completely lacking in Mosel-typical fruit. There are undertones of earth and perhaps cherry; could be mistaken for a Nahe. The wine smells a bit dusty to me somehow. The lime and cherries seem to grow with air, and a little whiff of overripe tropical fruit is scented. Then comes apples and a little thyme.

    A quite ripe and sweet Spätlese, but nonetheless the classic style. Full and creamy in taste and texture, almost oily in mouthfeel, with ripe and restrained and but not deficient acidity; there's lots of skin extract on the full-bore finish, almost like the mouthfeel you get when eating lots of Thompson Seedless grapes, accompanied by some lime or grapefruit peel, having a subtle and appetizing bitterness. Call it 91/100, with perhaps some upside on aging. This will develop into an excellent food wine with some careful cellaring.

    At 24 hours there is a bit of deepening in the color, even that wonderful pink. The nose has come together via a nice tea note. There's a much more integrated palate, with more appetizing acidity, and a real wowie-zowie 'tea and oranges' finish. Highly recommended, even at this price. 92/100.
    __________________
    A votre santé,
    John Trombley

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    Back when I was married, many moons ago, and just beginning to learn about wine, my wife preferred sweet wines. She probably would have been happy with the "pop" wines of our youth, but I wanted to use some of my new knowledge. The happy solution was German wines. Even more happy was the fact that, at the time, they were very affordable. Divorce and a stronger Deutsche Mark sent me elsewhere, but I still like a good Kabinett, Spätlese or Auslese from time to time, and I always preferred the Mosel offerings. This sounds great.

  3. #3
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    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    I have been to every major vineyard in the Mosel, Rhine, Nahe and Saar regions. I have tasted many spectacular wines over there (yes, the best stuff never leaves Germany). The wine you tout looks interesting but, unfortunately, too expensive for a Riesling Spatlese. I agree with Chuck that I bought many more here years ago when the prices were much better. Ah, the great Riesling Auslese's from 1970 and 1976. I remember them well.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  4. #4

    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe View Post
    I have been to every major vineyard in the Mosel, Rhine, Nahe and Saar regions. I have tasted many spectacular wines over there (yes, the best stuff never leaves Germany). The wine you tout looks interesting but, unfortunately, too expensive for a Riesling Spatlese. I agree with Chuck that I bought many more here years ago when the prices were much better. Ah, the great Riesling Auslese's from 1970 and 1976. I remember them well.
    Joe
    You also remember a much stronger dollar, Joe! It's not uncommon for the better Spätlesen from makers such as Dönnhoff and Müller-Catoir to be much more expensive, ranging near the $50 mark. Probably you mean the 1971 vintage, which was quite a bit stronger than the 1970. Concerning the stuff that never leaves Germany, are you talking about the Versteigerungsweine?

    Do you mean you have been to every major vineyard, or every major estate?

    Best, John
    Last edited by Sweetstuff; 01-12-2007 at 12:40.

  5. #5
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    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetstuff View Post
    Concerning the stuff that never leaves Germany, are you talking about the Versteigerungsweine?

    Do you mean you have been to every major vineyard, or every major estate?

    Best, John
    I'm talking about the very small growers which do not sell abroad due to lesser output, finances and connections. Some of the small mom and pop outfits produce fantastic wines, especially in Hattenheim or anywhere in the Rheingau. Schloss Volrads, Schloss Johannisberg and the like do not impress me. I have had their wines.
    My friend, his brother and I had the privelege to actually walk into the vineyards prior to going to some of the estates for tastings. I'm glad to have been able to do this. When I was there the DM was 2 to 1 for the dollar. That was not cheap by any means but it is better than today. As far as I'm concerned, until the prices come back into line whereby I can afford them, the Germans and French can keep their wines. I'll drink bourbon.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  6. #6

    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    My first wine/spirits love was/is Sauternes, the great Bordeaux 'sweetie' (yes, I have a d'Yquem, but just one -- fortunately, from the fine 1983 vintage), so this wine certainly interests me. Alas, Tennessee is not the ideal commercial market for wineries and wine importers -- it's a franchise state, where the distributor 'owns' a brand with full discretion until it decides not to own it anymore -- so many quality, narrow-distribution wines never make it here.
    I promise, John, I DO try to bring a nicer wine to every Gazebo gathering in Bardstown (including 1983 Lafite Rothschild and 1933 Justino Henriques Malmsey Madeira so far, among several others), as do several members, so I hope you'll consider both joining us in Bardstown and treating us to some of your favorite vintages, and your knowledge regarding them. You'll find many fine palates, whether tasting grain or grape.
    Tim

  7. #7

    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe View Post
    I'm talking about the very small growers which do not sell abroad due to lesser output, finances and connections. Some of the small mom and pop outfits produce fantastic wines, especially in Hattenheim or anywhere in the Rheingau. Schloss Volrads, Schloss Johannisberg and the like do not impress me. I have had their wines.
    My friend, his brother and I had the privelege to actually walk into the vineyards prior to going to some of the estates for tastings. I'm glad to have been able to do this. When I was there the DM was 2 to 1 for the dollar. That was not cheap by any means but it is better than today. As far as I'm concerned, until the prices come back into line whereby I can afford them, the Germans and French can keep their wines. I'll drink bourbon.
    Joe
    Thanks for your note, Joe. If we ever meet I'll be sure to bring some of my better qpr Riesling for you to taste, if only for old time's sake. I'd have a hard time just drinking German wine as much as I like it, and it's good to have a chance to taste bourbon, although the kind of bourbon I'm liable to like is much more expensive, on average, than the kind of German wines I buy. Of course, if you're just talking alcohol content, this isn't so, but alcohol by itself isnt' the reason that I like to have a sip now and then.

    I also traveled in Germany and have been seriously drinking these wines for about 25-30 years, and so I'm quite familiar with the period you mention, plus having followed some of the positive, and frankly, not quite so positive, developments that have come later. There's a much better feel for vineyard quality and characteristics now (data having been discovered covering wholesale auction prices and tax records going back 100-150 years, depending upon reason), and a better knowledge of what is the 'core area' and the true identity of each great vineyard. There is a movement, called the Erste Lage movement, that has some positive effects, that is very influential right now in sorting out the dross from the gold.

    A comment: The 'noble' estates of the Rheingau were in terrible condition about the time you were there and for many years afterward. They are only now, in the last five years or so, coming back into condition. Schloss Vollrads, for instance, is now making some very good Kabinett wines, and they are not expensive. They are far superior, IMO, to anything made in the 1970s and 1980s, even in the greatest vintages of that era--1971, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1985, or 1989. Schoss Vollrads was in such sad shape that Graf Erwein Matuschka-Grieffenclau sadly committed suicide there about 10 years ago, and the new administration has by now really gotten things back together.

    In addition, I think you'll find that (outside Tennessee, of which I have little knowledge) there is a much better selection of moderately-priced small good-quality estate-bottling producers than there was in the past. For example, you might want to take a look at the Terry Theise/Skurnik catalog for Germany, which is a very literate and interesting small book. [ http://www.skurnikwines.com/msw/docu...og2006_000.pdf. ] Terry, a very smart man, has made it his life's work to seek out and market just the kind of small producer you mention. Someo of his 'discoveries' are now some of the most sought-out wines in Germany. You'd be surprised at what's out there right now in the $10-20 price range. The wines as a whole are much higher in quality (what used to be thin and anemic Spätlesen are now wines that have a chance to cellar marvelously for 20 years or so, just like the old fine Auslesen of your era). A Maximin Grünhauser Kabinett, for example, will easily go 20-30 years and show a great benefit from it, from a good vintage.

    But even so, frankly speaking, in the 70s and 80s high quality German wine had fallen to prices unsustainably low, and we were able to buy absolute gems that would cost dearly now for perhaps $20. For example, I bought the 1983 long gold kap Auslese from Joh. Jos. Prüm (Wehlener Sonnenuhr, his top bottling) for $22 in 1983. That is now a wine that can't be obtained for love or money, as only a couple hundred bottles are made in a great vintage, just as then. The passionate, high-quality German winemaker gets nothing like what other winemakers get in the same quality level around the world, but deserve at least to make a living and keep the doors open. Many famous vineyards are now fallow, and that benefits nobody. For instance, since you've been in Germany a good part of the famous Traiser Bastei vineyard is permanently out of production.

    Best wishes,
    John Trombley
    Last edited by Sweetstuff; 01-13-2007 at 10:11.

  8. #8
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    Re: Unusual and Fine Mosel:Richter Veldenz Elisenberg Spätlese 2005

    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe View Post
    I have been to every major vineyard in the Mosel, Rhine, Nahe and Saar regions. I have tasted many spectacular wines over there (yes, the best stuff never leaves Germany). The wine you tout looks interesting but, unfortunately, too expensive for a Riesling Spatlese. I agree with Chuck that I bought many more here years ago when the prices were much better. Ah, the great Riesling Auslese's from 1970 and 1976. I remember them well.
    Joe
    right on the money... the good stuff never makes it to the weinkarte.

 

 

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