Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sublime dry German wines: Rebholz

Sublime dry German wines: Rebholz

Is it a Riesling or a Chardonnay?
As a writer (or a pale imitation of one at least), I reserve the most respect for those who can say more with less words - A word conservationist if you may, one who can express themselves directly and notably succinctly whilst maintaining a certain air of flair in the process. Naturally, such a skill is very rare, and particularly so amongst wine communicators - a breed whom (like me) are usually enthusiastic wine people first, economical wordsmiths second.

Given this, when  I meet someone who can make an impact with few words - whether written or verbally - I take notice. Hansjörg Rebholz, 3rd generation vigneron from Pfalz estate Ökonomierat Rebholz, is such a person, his words often carrying a certain gravitas that I can only admire.

As a result, when Hansjörg said to me 'this wine (his 'R' Chardonnay reviewed below) is the best Chardonnay in Germany' I didn't laugh at his brazenness. I couldn't. It wasn't a brag, it was a fact, stated with such German efficiency and a lack of ego that you could only conclude it was correct.

Judging by the quality of said wine, he wasn't wrong either.

Now, before looking at these wines, some context. Ökonomierat Rebholz is based in the varied soils of Pfalz, it's reputation increasingly built (like much of the Pfalz) on both sublime dry white wines (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtz) as well as some very smart examples of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The estate is farmed organically, chaptalisation is shunned and the production is kept deliberately small and focused - it is an utterly uncompromised proposition, focused on (dry) expressions of grape and terroir. From what I have read - and the wines that I tasted - they seem to be doing this with some style too.

Apparently much of the estate's output is consumed within Germany, greater Europe and the US, yet a small amount has recently made its way here via Eurocentric Wines. Not all of the following wines are currently available - and volumes are tiny - yet if you see some pick it up immediately. I would. I should...

The wines:

Ökonomierat Rebholz Muskateler Trocken 2010 11% $46
The 'basic' Rebholz dry Muscat, the freshness and extract plain perfect. I kept coming back to this wine, such is the balance between freshness and weight. Superstar.

It shows a lovely concentrated essence of Muscat nose which balances the bath salt aromatic intensity of the variety with weight. Excellent richness through the palate, but high acid. Rich but dry. Weight and spice. Excellent work. Superb length. 18/20 93/100

Ökonomierat Rebholz Weisser Burgunder Trocken 2010 11.5% $39
A Pinot Blanc but not as we often see it - a much more textural beast indeed. This balances out the richness with neutrality, if in a quite simple form here.

Quite honeyed nose. Neutral but ripe. Looks much riper than the alc suggests. A hint of rot? Neutral and drying palate. Linear but with quite a deal of richness. Looks neutral but just a little clumsy perhaps through the finish. Needs time to come together. 17.1/20 90/100+

Ökonomierat Rebholz Grauer Burgunder S Trocken 2010 12.5% $64
A massive Pinot Gris this, no question about it.

Almost smoky in its aromatic intensity. Weighty, orange rind edge. Extractive and dry, long. The finish blows you away in it's firmness. Massive wine, if perhaps a little hard. Much to come! 17.5/20 91/100+

Ökonomierat Rebholz Chardonnay R Spätlese 2009 $100
Matured in small oak and given a full day or so of skin contact. Wow wine.

Evocative and opulent. Big nectarine fruit, evocative and supercharged with an Aramis like aftershave note and quite firm butter oak. Massive! Hugely large and weighty palate that is a little think Mornington-esque yet more floral. Complexity to burn but that length of white peach fruit is exceptional. Woah. Off the chain length but polarising wine. Big warm finish too. Just a little more delicacy needed, but would that detract from the wine? Impressive regardless. 18.5/20 94/100

Ökonomierat Rebholz Ganz Gorn im Sonnernschien Riesling GG 2008 12% $128
The first of the Großes Gewächs wines in this lineup and a very classic example it is too, albeit in a riper context perhaps. Quite a formidable wine again.

Very tight, honey extract cloaked in green tightness. Focused, dry and lemon/grapefruit green fruit. There's a real white rock leanness to this, a wine hanging on the precipice of exceptional quality but quite challenging in its acidity and firmness. Will need some patience. 18.3/20 93/100+

Ökonomierat Rebholz Von Buntsandstein RieslingSpätlese 2007 $68
This comes off the sandstone. Picked at 90 oechsle. 7.5% alcohol, 80.5g/l residual sugar, 7.3g/l acid.

Quite a traditional Spatlese in its blossom fragrance. White pepper, and light mandarin edges. Smells sweet but tastes considerably drier for the sweetness. What length and balance! Classic off dry wine, if driven by power and grace. Yes. 18/20 93/100

Ökonomierat Rebholz Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2009 12% $38
Clearly picked very ripe, yet never falling over the line into flab. I'm a sucker for these rich Gewurtz.

Wow nose. Highly aromatic terpene spice. Bath salts. Big middle palate. Hole towards the back before a subliminal, late spicy finish. Outstanding length. Dry and weighty. Wow. 18.5/20 94/100


Ökonomierat Rebholz Albersweiler Latt Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2009 12% $44
From a highly celebrated single vineyard, this looks more complex and even more wildly weighty than the standard wine. Again picked late and again amazing.

A much more creamy, rocky and layered nose here, with suggestions of creamed lychee. So much going on here! Yet the palate is quite creamy and even subtle in the scheme of things. The palate is smoky, spicy and so incredibly concentrated. What a wine! So divisive and many will not enjoy this but wow! What power and depth! 18.7/20 95/100+

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