The historic tasting of German trockenbeerenauslesen took place over two days at Mille Fleurs restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. See my previous blog entry for Part 1, with vintages 1921 through 1949. This entry covers day two, with TBAs from 1953 and 1959.
We began with a lovely lunch of white asparagus velouté, followed by a duo of white and green asparagus in aspic with Iberico ham, duck and Black Forest prosciutto and a main course of wiener schnitzel accented by arugula, fried quail egg, zucchini blossoms and lemon-caper butter.
To whet our palates, Wiest served Sekthaus Raumland’s Brut Blanc de Noir Germany Cuvée Marie-Luise Late Disgorged 1991, made entirely from Pinot Noir and Fritz Haag’s Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr 1994.
Then it was on to the main event. We began with a flight of four TBAs from 1953. There was a little sentimental value for me in this flight. First, I don’t have the opportunity of tasting wines from 1953 very often. More important, my parents, who have known each other for 65 years, were married in 1953.
A solid flight was marred by the slight corkiness on the otherwise interesting Hochheimer Kirchenstück from Domdechant Werner'sches, a wine made by Franz Künstler. I preferred the Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach Hochheimer Domdechaney Cabinet Naturrein Fass #57 (96 points, non-blind). Only 50 liters (66 bottles) were made of this orange-, honey- and apricot-scented graceful dessert wine.
The remainder of the tasting consisted of 15 TBAs from 1959. I was particularly impressed by the Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach Steinberger Cabinet Naturrein, which just kept getting better in the glass. It smelled like roasted almond and hazelnut, with hints of cherry liqueur and coffee. Notes of wild herbs emerged, while it showed balance and concentration matched to a racy frame, ending in a long, ethereal aftertaste (99 points, non-blind).
One of the freshest, most pure wines in the tasting, the Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr 1959 from Ferdinand Haag (today known as Fritz Haag) was also one of the lightest in color, a light tawny orange. The flavors of apricot, mineral and spice made a seamless harmony with the rich texture and elegant profile (98 points, non blind).
There was another Erbacher Marcobrunn among the ’59s, again from Schloss Schönborn. It revealed a high-toned, almost floral bouquet over honey and fig. Very sweet initially on the palate, it was powerful, smoky and salty, turning drier on the finish (97 points, non blind).
The first Scheurebe TBA. Note the spelling of Scheu-Rebe and Trockenbeer-Auslese.
Joh. Jos. Prüm’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr proffered a medium orange color, presaging loads of spice, orange and grapefruit in the bouquet. It turned more candied and exotic with air, very intense, detailed and long, with a mineral and smoke aftertaste (97 points, non blind). It wasn’t quite as impressive as a bottle I tasted two years ago at an event in Germany that spanned the 20th century, which I rated 99 points, yet remember these wines are now more than 50 years old! There’s bound to be some bottle variation.
Prüm made three different TBAs in 1959. There was no indication on the label (AP numbers didn’t exist yet) and I didn’t see the cork (or what was left of it). I was unable to confirm with Katharina Prüm the differences between the three.
These were the highlights of day two, though many other excellent TBAs were poured, including the only Silvaner in the lineup, Juliusspital’s Franken Escherndorfer Lump 1959 (94 points, non-blind).
As a group, these younger TBAs showed more concentration and sweetness than the older vintages. They all need more time, and the best of them will easily develop over the next 30 to 40 years.
Also of historical interest from the two-day event was the Weingut Stumpf-Fitz’sches Scheurebe Pfalz Annaberg 1945, boasting a bouquet of caramel and orange and mellow sweetness (92 points, non-blind). This was the first TBA made from Scheurebe, what was originally believed to be a Riesling-Silvaner cross developed by Dr. George Scheu in 1916. Recent DNA analysis suggests Riesling as the parent, possibly crossed with a wild vine rather than Silvaner.
Though originally developed in the Rheinhessen, the grape had much success in the Pfalz region, and the Annaberg vineyard in Kallstadt became the source of cuttings that were widely transplanted to other sites. In 1953 Hans Wirsching planted it in Franken, where it makes distinctive dry wines.
Overall, it was a fantastic tasting. Bipin Desai, a veteran of many extensive vertical tastings over the years, had never tasted a range of TBAs the likes of what we experienced. This prompted him to declare at one point during the event, “This is really good claret from Germany,” and later “I’m beginning to like Mosel.”
Morewine Bishar — Del Mar, California — May 15, 2010 1:40pm ET
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