Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The World Is My Oster (Feb. 23, 2017)

Getting ready for the Selbach tasting
The Selbach-Oster house is a masterful domain, even in Mosel, a region with no shortage of master artists. I was honored to participate in a tasting with Sigrid and Hanna Selbach.

Sekt, Brut, 2013

Sekts always torture me with montages of two of my big loves, German Riesling and Champagne. For example, this marries the complex, yeasty nose of a sparkling wine married to the light body of a Kabinett, showing citrus fruit, mushrooms and stone. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2014

Even though this is relatively young and mute compared to the older Kabinetts that followed, this manages to show a charming nose of apples and pastry and cold slate, with a precise balance of fruit and acidity. The true measure of its lovely, evocative nose is evidenced when I sniff the remnants of the glass, which is when the aromas really open up.

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2013

Something happened in 2013 to heighten the impact, a little more depth, visceral urgency and icy petrol pungency to the aromas, make the finish more savory and salivating, like a fine drill sparking the taste buds. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Kabinett, 2012

This is a regal wine, its pungency is a little more restrained - simply a wine that doesn't need to raise its voice. And one whose voice will keep ringing for a very long time.

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Spatlese, Trocken, 2012

You cross an invisible border when you move from classic, off dry/sweet Rieslings to the dry versions. Here, the aromas and texture are a totally different world, even though some similarities remain. The minerals dig deeper, as though the earth came alive. I usually prefer the classic style, but this is one of the best dry Rieslings I've ever had, a very detailed wine that doesn't try to slug its way in, as can be the case with Grosses Gewaches.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese Feinherb, Ur Alte Reben, 2012

This an off dry Spatlese, so it sort of takes the best of what the Kabinetts have to offer and changes gears. If the Spatlese Trocken shifts into mineral mode, this highlights the savory and steely aspect of the grape, with crystalline purity and a very complex and unique character. 

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese, 2012

This is a textbook Mosel beauty that sweeps you with lemon sherbet/drops and an almost creamy seductiveness. 

Zeltinger Schlossberg, Auslese, 2011

This exists in different quadrant of space-time, creamier, more embryonic, like being hugged by a friendly panda bear. Again, this shows how all these wines have paint different colors with brushstrokes unto different canvases, but all were wrought by the same hand.

Anrecht, 2012

Ah! This feels like the Schlossberg Auslese sank into a black hole, and, while struggling to escape, is sending out a radio signal that broadcast hints of the same creaminess, but with a killer focus, highlighting the minerals, luring you in. And you don't resist. You can't.

A brief explanation on the Anrecht. Selbach-Oster stick to the usual strictures of German winemaking and makes multiple harvests of their vineyards in order to produce the expected pradikats from Kabinett all the way to Trockenbeerauslese and Eiswein. They make an exception for three sub-parcels (Anrecht, Schmitt and Rotlay), where they make a single harvest. They target Auslese but vinify all the grapes together regardless of the sugar level (presumably after sorting out grapes of lesser equality). The idea is to showcase the terroir in its purity, without any attempt to adhere to the stylistic demands of a specific pradikat.

Zeltinger Himmelreich, Auslese, 1990

This is a fine example of what happens to an Auslese after decades in the cellar. The nose, while no less detailed than in its youth, is less explosive, chamber music rather than a symphony. And time has taken the sweet fruit of youth and delicately sculpted it into a nuanced dryness. There was obviously botrytis when young, but it's implied and insinuated by now. A lovely gift of time.

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