As usual, the 2009 Riesling Schlossberg Cuvee Saint Catherine l'Inedit reflects fruit partly tinged with botrytis that finished with significant residual sugar, but in this instance, at 18 grams- less than usual for this cuvee- the wine manages to taste virtually dry. Candied tangerine rind, quince, and brown spices on the nose mingle with nut oils on an expansive, creamy, glossy palate. Toasted nuts, citrus oils and honey inform a persistently bittersweet finish that preserves just enough fresh fruit acidity to entice the next sip. This should be worth following for ten or a dozen years, but I don't perceive the energy or incipient complexity to justify long-aging.
Both 2008 and 2009 were clearly challenging at Domaine Weinbach, many of their wines from the latter illustrating that vintage's weaknesses. (Catherine and Collette Faller elected not to present me their- admittedly, at the time not yet officially approved- 2009 vintage V.T. and S.G.N. bottlings.) Harvesting at this estate is generally on the late side and in this instance continued until October 20, which I hypothesized while tasting might have been a bit too late for such nearly uniformly ripeness as seems to have prevailed by late September of 2009. The first vintage from this estate that I tasted as young wine was 1979 ('œthough I did not visit until 1984), so I've experienced a full range of collections from cool, late growing seasons such as have nowadays become scarce; but only from a couple of genuinely ripeness-deficient vintages of the 1980s, and then again from 1996, can I recall acid levels as prominent as those harbored by the Weinbach 2008s, and this has rendered some of them youthfully severe or nervous, though one hopes and indeed expects that the best will calm down, round out, and harmonize over time, without losing their vivacity, focus, and in some instances power. Don't be misled by the scores I have assigned to this 2008 collection: really, a question mark hangs over them all because it's how these wines respond to bottle age which will determine the verdict that matters. A look at the 1996s provides some tantalizing clues but little confidence. Some 1996s have evolved beautifully, while others seem caught in a time warp, their agitated, faintly aggravating adolescent Sturm und Drang almost unseemly for their age. With all this in mind I recently revisited a bottle of 1981 Weinbach Gewurztraminer V.T.- a wine whose residual sugar was lower than that of most non-V.T. Gewurz at this address today, and whose acidity in youth was formidable- and that wine was spectacular. And as you'll see from my notes, Gewurztraminer is the most likely candidate for stardom in the 2008 Weinbach collection. (For considerable detail on the slope origins of the many Weinbach cuvees, consult my reports in issues 188 and 175.) I can't resist noting that suggested retail prices for the most recent releases are little more than half what I was being quoted as recently as three vintages ago, making the best of the current crop especially worthy of wine lovers' attention, even though neither 2008 nor 2009 is among this illustrious domaine's most consistently successful collections.