Tag Archives: karl erbes

2011 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Kranklay Riesling Spätlese

2011 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Kranklay Riesling Spätlese

2011 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Kranklay Riesling Spätlese

Last weekend, we met with friends for an afternoon of playing Super Mario Kart, wine, cakes, cheeses and minestrone (talk about an eclectic mixture). We had a Pinot Noir that I was not very fond of so I am not writing about that one (Nina liked it quite a bit, which is always a mystery to me…but she likes red wines with sharp edges, I don’t). But, with the cheeses, we did share this bottle of wine, the 2011 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Kranklay Riesling Spätlese. Regular readers of this blog are probably familiar with the winery, if you aren’t, I wrote about it in detail here. The winemaker Stefan Erbes has become a good friend of mine.

Some of you should also be familiar with the Ürziger Würzgarten by now, one of my preferred vineyards along the Middle Mosel. But you might wonder what that word “Kranklay” behind it means. Let me explain briefly: The German Wine Act, passed in the early ’70s, did many things that I can just look at in amazement these days. One of them was merging single denomination vineyards into bigger single denomination vineyards by expanding particular plots and getting rid of the old names. So, what used to be a rather small vineyard, the Ürziger Würzgarten, is now a pretty big stretch of land. The incorporated vineyards lost their single vineyard denomination and vanished. Among these merged plots were some pretty good ones: in Erden for example the “Herzlay”, or in Ürzig the “Kranklay”. The German Wine Act prohibits wineries from putting the names of these now defunct vineyards on the label, even if the vineyards are in these old plots.

A younger generation of winemakers has realized that terroir actually matters (it really does not in any way to the German Wine Act). So, some of them have started putting the names of the deleted vineyards back on the labels because they believe they are unique and should be identifiable. While this is not allowed by the Wine Act, it depends on the wine commissioner to assess whether to exact penalties or not. The Middle Mosel is quite lucky in that regard as the current commissioner does not seem to care too much. So you will find the denominations Kranklay or Herzlay on bottles of Karl Erbes or Dr. Hermann.

Other areas fare worse: Weingut Peter Lauer, on the Saar river, has to come up with creative names for their wines that resemble the old vineyard names in order to be able to print something akin to the vineyard name on the label. It is complete bureaucratic idiocy at its “best” and everyone seems to agree that the Wine Act is in desperate need of an overhaul…but legislatures move slowly (as Americans know all too well)…so for now, we are stuck with a system that is generally considered bad, which is arbitrarily applied. Talk about the rule of law…

The Kranklay then is part of the Ürziger Würzgarten. It is located in the higher, Eastern parts of the South facing Würzgarten, close to where the Erdener Treppchen begins. It is a perfect amphitheater and has a pretty good micro climate. Stefan decided it is worth pointing that out and putting the name back on the label. The wines tend to taste a bit riper in my experience than the rest of the Würzgarten.

But let’s move on to the wine: it has 7% ABV and was from the super ripe 2011 vintage, so we knew we were in for a sweet treat…In a short exchange, Stefan told me that the 2011s are now beginning to shine.

In the glass the 2011 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Kranklay Riesling Spätlese was strikingly bright yellow. To me, the nose was a bit subdued, with floral aromas. On the palate the wine was quite sweet, showed honey and peach aromas. It still retained a decent amount of acidity but the sugar level definitely gave me one of those very welcome sugar burns in the throat (I have no clue if you understand what I mean: it is this mixture of acidity and sugar that can create a warm, fuzzy feeling in the upper throat region. I quite enjoy that in a good Riesling). The wine had a long finish. After a while I began tasting red apples and some orange rinds. It was a perfect match with the goat cheeses we had (goat gouda, goat manchego, two other hard goat cheeses and a soft, Greek goat cheese). We like to eat those cheeses with some kind of fruit mustard, but who needs that when you have a wine like this in your glass?

It is still in the early stages of its development. To a certain degree, it seemed more like an Auslese than a Spätlese in its intensity and I am rather certain that the must reached Auslese levels in degrees Oechsle. If you like sweet German Rieslings, this is a great bottle of wine for you.

I just checked the guys over at Mosel Fine Wines (if you have not signed up for their free newsletter, I encourage you to do it: great wine reviews for pretty much all wineries that matter at the Mosel and it is free), and they noted yellow fruits and passion fruit. They remark that it is clearly botrytized (I thought the opposite last night, but what do I know?) and also got the honey notes. Their suggested drinking window is 2016 to 2026. So you might want to give this wine some time…

Tagged , , , , , , ,

2009 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese

2009 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese

Just a short tasting note today. We had this beauty to finish up our Thanksgiving Dinner last Thursday. You can read more about the winery, of which I am very fond, here, and I have waxed on lyrically about the Würzgarten before here.

The 2009 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese poured in a lemony, yellow color. The nose was a bit subdued, but had the typical floral and herbal aromas, with a notable freshness to it (I don’t know how else to describe it). On the palate, it was on the heavier side of light-bodied, with a healthy dose of sugar and yellow fruit. What made me love this wine was  a great lemon-flavored acidity that lingered on my tongue long after I had swallowed it. It was a great companion to chill after overindulging on turkey, mashed potatoes, red cabbage and creamy onions or gruyere-baked butternut squash. Finally something light and refreshing…

Tagged , , , , , , ,

1997 Karl Erbes Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese* and 1999 Bonnes et Guerre Pommard AOC

Two beauties, meant for each other

Some pairings seem to be made in the heavens: Think steak and malbec, think cheese and sweet riesling, think cooked beef and burgundy wines…the list is endless. But sometimes, we have the chance to reconsider our preconceived ideas, and be surprised, because a whole new horizon opens up as we do.

On one of these days, Nina and I were visiting Stefan Erbes of Karl Erbes. We were trying our way through his newer wines and on to older wines. I mentioned it before, but the cool thing with his winery is that his father has stashed away wines of virtually every vintage. We were trying the 1996 Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese against this 1997 Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese* (they make up to a *** Auslese to distinguish between them according to what Stefan and his father consider the most stellar ones). Both tasted beautifully, unfortunately I cannot find the tasting notes for that visit. Stefan started explaining that he had had the 1997 with a grilled steak the other day and that that was amazing. This is when I intervened and told him to stop pulling my leg. I was incredulous. A steak and a Riesling Auslese? I know Riesling is versatile (think Korean food and riesling), but that versatile? Stefan just laughed, handed me a bottle and challenged me to try it out.

The next day, we did. We threw coals on the grill and seared beef steaks with friends. And, oh man, did it work. The wine nor the steak were ruined by the pairing. Incredibly, the sweetness of the wine gave the steak a new feel and aroma, and the smokiness of the steak gave the wine a certain depth. I was stunned. We stocked up on the wine (because it is amazing, steak or not) and were looking forward to the next BBQ Riesling dinner.

The occasion arose when we made plans with two good friends for dinner. She is falling more and more in love with German Riesling, while he has remained a bit skeptical, but is definitely indulging in the older vintages we’ve brought along. We agreed on steak, a butternut squash with sage risotto and baby potatoes. This was to be followed by a cheese platter, our usual routine.

I knew I wanted to take another bottle of wine, too, and my eyes fell on a bottle of 1999 Bonnes & Guerre Pommard. It was a gift by my French exchange partner and great friend Fred (another match made in the heavens). Pommard is a very well renown village just south of Beaune on the Cote d’Or and my friend knew full well that it is also the sister city of my home village Nackenheim. He had brought two bottles of this wine. I have not been able to find out anything about Bonnes & Guerre, so if any of you know them, please let me know. The first of these bottles I shared with two friends in my last weeks in Germany before heading over to Ann Arbor. It was an utter disappointment: The wine had clearly been dead, whether of cork or another flaw or just bad wine making, I could not determine it. It was just sad. So, I had been worrying about the bottle sitting here in Ann Arbor for a while, and I decided it was time to take it and see…

The Pommard and the decanter

The white was opened and left to breathe for about 30 minutes prior to tasting, the red was decanted and stood for about 45 minutes. We had parts of the Würzgarten with our steaks, and then some of the Pommard as well. That led over to the cheese course, where we also had both wines.

My notes on the 1997 Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese* (the wine had 7.5% ABV): The color was surprisingly light, not as ambered as one would expect an Auslese to be when 15 years old. The nose initially was not very prominent, I could not distinguish any particular aromas. As the wine opened up, there was peach in the nose. On the palate, the wine was very fresh, no significant indications of ageing. The peach aromas came through very nicely, the acidity in the wine balancing the reduced sugar beautifully. I guess I was most endeared by how fresh the wine still tasted. About 2 hours into the evening, the wine opened up further and there were tropical fruits coming in. The wine paired nicely with our steaks, but we were also happy to have preserved some for the cheese, because it definitely shone more on the cheese course, when it opened up and was supported more by the goat cheese we were having. It is a marvelous piece of art that Karl Erbes created…

So light…

I knew this bottle of 1999 Bonnes & Guerre Pommard AOC was not flawed as soon as I uncorked it. The cork looked clean and intact, and when I poured the wine into the decanter, a full blown raspberry attack was going on. I don’t recall ever to have had such a prominent and distinct raspberry aroma in the nose. The wine was incredibly light in color, almost translucent. There was no darkening or browning on the edges when poured into the glass. It was remarkably fresh as well. In the nose, the raspberry aromas persisted, with some jam and tartness mixed in. I also smelled something like dough batter, but that might have been my brain playing tricks on me (I love raspberry tartes). There were also notes of chalk in the nose. On the palate, the wine was condensed, but very fruity. The alcohol of 13% ABV was noticeable, but at no instance was the wine heavy. Later in the evening, when we were having cheese, the wine showed cherry, plum and slight tomato notes. There was also a certain earthiness to it. The wine was such a surprise to me. I had expected it to be flawed or a heavier, darker pinot noir. The light color deceived that it was deep and subtle and strong. The finish was long, and it shone through.

Was this a pairing made in the heavens? I think it was. Trying old wines with friends, from two regions in the world that matter a lot to me, both fruity, both light, both deep. They expressed some great European wine making, and to have them side by side, was an experience I likely will not forget for quite some time…

Playing with filters to show how light it looked…

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: