Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten
Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2005
Although I've purchased a smattering of German Rieslings from the 2002 and 2004 vintages (I have generally avoided 2003; the wines are either awful aberrations to be avoided, or monumental efforts which may one day rival those from 1976 for longevity and sheer quality, depending on who you listen to), the 2005 vintage is the first where I have waded in deep since 2001.
My initial tastes of the vintage concur with the general opinion so far; 2005 is another great vintage for Germany. I don't think I have any idea yet as to which regions fared better than others, but the generalisation certainly stands, broad and sweeping as it is. The vintage has also brought some experience from wines of a category quite new to me; several trocken Kabinetts. I have tasted quite a few trocken Spätleses over the last few years, and been generally disappointed; there were a few good examples particularly from the Rhine regions, such as the Pfalz, but too many seemed intense and yet unbalanced, top-heavy even, so I was interested to see how these examples fared. They at least had two points inherently in their favour; they are all from a great vintage, and they are all from premier league estates.
Of the few that I tasted, the 2005 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett Trocken (AP Nr: 2 602 041 002 06) from the Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben estate was one of the more tasty. The estate, which is now run (since the 2001 vintage) by Robert Eymael of Weingut Mönchhof has also joined the growing band of very significant German producers bottling wines under screwcap, thereby obliterating any chance of spoilage through cork taint. The wine itself has a moderately pale hue with a certain tinge of green. It is really very attractive on the nose which is fruit-dominated, showing fresh pear and dessert apple aromas blended with a sweeter, slightly tropical, fruit salad character, with little lychee and bacon complexities. There's a little crisp mineral too, and a lovely prickle of carbon dioxide on entry although this disappears in time, but the palate remains quite precise through to the finish. It is rounded, fairly broad, with a complex, mineral spice developing towards the endpalate. Slightly austere rather than tender finish, but very appealing nevertheless. It's a lovely example of the Ürziger Würzgarten vineyard, although quite distinct for being dry. In comparison to the straight Ürz-Würz Kabinett from the same vintage, I must admit I prefer the latter, even if it does reflect the richness of the 2005 vintage. But this is very good indeed, and has certainly alerted me to trocken Kabinett as a worthy style. 17/20 AP number: 2 602 041 002 06 (11/9/06)