Terry Theise once wrote that drinking German wines will make you a better person, a better lover, a better guitar player, will make you vote for the right candidates. Words to that effect. And though I don't play guitar and Israel doesn't offer many politicians worth getting up in the morning to vote for in the first place, I like to think that a year and half of exploring these Teutonic wonders has had a positive effect. I certainly smile more.
The following two wines are imported by Giaconda.
Jos. Christoffel Jr., Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese **, 1992
I've drunk a lot of Christoffels along the way and they're always very good, some downright excellent. And, of course, when a German Riesling is this mature, every drinking experience offers its own rewards. The common characteristic of the three times or so I've had this wine is the way the fruit leans against a backdrop of cool slate, both on the nose and on the palate. The fruit is more prominent on the nose than the last time I had it, just 3-4 months ago, showing peaches and both red and baked apples, sprinkled with edgy little strokes of dill. Aromatically, it just goes to show mature Rieslings don't have to be peppered with petrol in order to shine. On the plate it exhibits a succulent acidity and a crystalline structure. Could use more complexity, which I don't think it will pick up as it seems to have reached its peak, but an excellent wine nonetheless. 207 NIS. (May 8, 2008)
Muller-Catoir, Pflaz, Mussbacher Eselshaut, Rislaner, Spatlese, 2001
Like Scheurebe, Rislaner is a Riesling cross-breed and if, according to Terry Theise, Scheurebe is the slutty sister, perhaps Rislaner is the quiet one whose beauty is tucked away behind a librarian's bi-focals. Here I find aromas of ripe pears, baked apples and a saline minerality, a sort of wet beach sand musk, that transforms into iron notes, before the nose is taken over by fresh flowers after an hour. The palate is ripe, yet softer than a Riesling of the same pradikat might be, the acidity playing somewhat lower notes and the fruit downright bass, which at first makes the sweetness more pronounced as it is forced towards the upper scale, until the minerals spring to life on the long finish. Having said all that, this wine was arguably more complex and elegant in the past but this bottle is so full of life, I'll just lay down my last bottle for a few years.
The 2001 is back in stock by popular demand and the 2005 should also still be in stock and costs 207 NIS. I tasted it last year and it was more muscular and meatier but then again, the 2001 was so different last year that I wouldn't make any comparisons without tasting them side by side. Both are worth a shot. (May 13, 2008)