Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten
Riesling Spätlese 2006
Germany has been in my thoughts again recently, particularly following the Grosser Ring tasting held at the German Ambassador's Residence in London just a week or two ago. This opportunity to look at the latest vintage, in this case 2007, is an annual event, although this was the first time I have attended. It looks to be a very good quality vintage indeed, not quite 2001 but superior to more recent years, especially for those that prefer acidity and harmony rather than just richness and sweetness.
Since then I have been reflecting a little on the preceding vintage, which I have not discussed much on Winedoctor, although I did give some press to the preceding year particularly in the shape of a 2005 Germany tasting, and also repeated examinations of the 2005 Kabinetts from Dr Loosen. Nevertheless I do appear to have at least a bottle or two in the cellar, and I decided it was time I pull at least one.
The vintage was characterised by a very hot July balanced by a cold August so that overall these months had no major effect. During September the expectation was that the harvest would be unremarkable, but an early-October deluge changed that. In the more southerly vineyards which were hardest hit, where the fruit was ripe rot soon set in, and in many vineyards whole bunches of grapes had to be discarded by the pickers. Further north the conditions were less damning, but here there were still some issues. In some areas Noble Rot was rampant, which certainly doesn't detract from quality but it does reduce the likelihood of making real Kabinetts, and it also reduces yields, the figures falling the longer the infected berries are left on the vines to dehydrate and shrivel. Those that were quick to harvest here brought in high quality fruit with great potential for spätlese or auslese. Those that suffered the rains had to do the best they could. As a result there is no easy catch-all term to describe this vintage; some estates made wines to challenge those made in 2005, others did not.
And so to this particular wine, the 2006 Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese from Joh. Jos. Christoffel, an estate long run by Hans Leo Christoffel but now managed by Robert Eymael of Mönchhof. As with all the Christoffel wines I have tasted in recent years, it is bottled under screwcap. On inspection it has a fairly unremarkable pale hue with a tinge of green, but with a plentiful supply of bubbles of residual carbon dioxide coating the inside of the glass. The nose, however, is remarkable and certainly fine, showing an attractive melding of bright fruit and minerals, honey-tinged pears, peaches, apples and flowers, with a fresh and slightly chalky edge. This is exotic and exuberant. A lovely palate follows, rich but well composed, bright with fresh acidity, and with waves of fruit passing over the palate, going right through to the finish. The length is considerable. This is very good wine indeed, delicious now and so full of life, fun and flavour, but surely with the potential to do things in the cellar for ten or twenty years. 17.5+/20 AP number: 2 602 041 005 07
As for the 2007 vintage, my thoughts and opinions can be found in my two-part review of the wines of Germany 2007. (23/6/08)