Vereinigte Hospitien Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2004
Riesling from Mosel, Germany
Riesling is the main varietal (90%) from partly old ungrafted vines! The remaining 10% is concentrated on the Pinot varietals, 1/3 each: Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Spaetburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).
The Scharzhofberg is one of the finest vineyards in Germany, probably planted by the Romans. It is one of the very few famed sites whose wines are sold without mention of the village name.
The winery is in the old building of the United Hospices, "Vereinigte Hospitien". The wine cellars are bedded in old Roman stonework that was built around 330 A.D. The label is the figure of Saint Jacob with a pilgrim's staff and seashell. This relates to the St. James Public Hospital originally a hostel/shelter for wanderers on their way to the tomb of Apostle James in Spain. The tribute to Saint Jacob on the bottle spreads good name all over the world.
Vereinigte Hospitien Winery
In 1805, Napoleon issued an imperial edict which consolidated all the various hospitals in Trier; homes for lepers, for the poor and orphanages. This was the beginnings of the foundation of the United Hospices, Vereinigte Hospitien, which was then part of the French Empire. Over 25 hectares of vineyards are cultivated mainly thanks to endowments and gifts, and are situated in the Saar (Kanzem, Wiltingen, Serrig) and Mosel (Piesport, Bernkastel, Graach) valleys. The Hölle (“hell“, referring probably to the heat generated in this steep slatey hillside) in Wiltingen is a monopole site of the estate.
The wines are marketed under the Sanctus Jacobus label name, depicted on the labels by St. Jacob or James with a pilgrim's staff and seashell. This relates to the St. James Public Hospital which was originally a hostel for pilgrims on their way to the tomb of James the Apostle in Spain. Records mention Sanctus Jacobus wines as early as 1464 and this is the oldest written documentation of Riesling being cultivated on the Mosel.
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(moe-ZELL saahr -RUE-wehr)
The Mosel river winds its way through this wine region, passing by some of the steepest, most northerly vineyards of the world. The wines from the Mosel have a most distinctive soil based on slate. The slate-rich soils covering the region are what imparts the amazing, well-loved slate-y, mineraly flavors and aromas to the delicate Mosel wines. To keep this necessary slate in tact, when the rock slide down the steep vineyard hillsides, the vineyard workers grab a bucket and carry the rocks right back up to the vines. There is a level of care taken in the vineyards of Mosel that rivals most other regions. Tasting the wines helps to understand why.
Riesling is the grape of the Mosel – the combination of this grape with the slate soils is what makes Mosel wines so breathtakingly delicate. Common descriptors of the Mosel Rieslings include steely acidity, wet stone and delicate texture. Lower in alcohol and high in acidity, the wines are still balanced with the rich flavors of Riesling and the slate-y flavors from the soil. Two districts (or Bereiche) that you find most often on Mosel labels are Bernkastel and Zell. Both are good producers of wine from this region. Many other good wines are coming from the area – just look to make sure the bottle says "Riesling" on the label – that's a sign of quality.
White Wine Guru
With some of the steepest and northernmost vineyards in the world, as well as the coolest climate, Germany produces some of the best white wines in the world, mainly Riesling. Delicate, age-worthy, intense and elegant are the typical descriptions for these wines. Note that “sweet” is not a common descriptor because the idea that most German wines are sweet is just not so. In fact, the majority of wines made in Germany are dry and more recently, the country is exporting value wines that are easy to drink, extremely food friendly and, luckily for some, containing labels that are easier to read!
The classification system of Germany is somewhat confusing. Like the rest of the old world, there's some hierarchy to it all. The categories are: Tafelwien (table wine), Landwein (land wine, similar to France's Vin de Pays) and the first “Q” level, QbA. QbA wines are easy-drinking and inexpensive – the only requirement being that the wine must come from one of Germany's thirteen official wine growing regions. The final level is QmP, which is the strictest level of German wines. The qualification consists of 6 levels, based on ripeness level at harvest, though that does not always translate into sweetness level.
Here are a few definitions to help in picking out a German QmP wine:
The driest level, Kabinett is usually light-bodied, low to medium in alcohol, and fairly dry. Great everyday wine and food-friendly.
Grapes are picked a bit later than Kabinett (Spatlese means late harvest) and have a fuller, more intense body. Most wines of this level are dry although some are off-dry.
Wines of this level are made from select grapes harvested even later than Spatlese. The grapes are selected in bunches to make sure they are of the perfect ripeness level. One step up in both body and sweetness, Auslese wines are balanced but with a bit more sweetness – perfect with spicy Indian food.
The longer the words get, the higher up in sweetness level you rise. Like Auslese, the grapes are selected individually, but while Auslese is selected bunches, Beerenauslese are selected berries, and usually berries affected by botrytis, or noble rot, so you have an even more specific wine, which, in turn, increases both its sweetness level and its price.
Okay, so Trocken means dry in German and yet this wine is the sweetest of the German levels. The "trocken" comes into play as the berries picked for this wine are dried, intensifying the sugars. So the wine is made from late-harvest dried berries affected with botrytis - a combination that makes a decadent (and expensive!) bottle of wine. A treat if you are able to ever try one.
1 rating, 1 with review
Wow, this was a delight. Refreshing, fruity, and sweet, this wine is perfect for a Saturday afternoon spent on the deck. The subtle effervescence is the frosting on the cake. You'll love this if you like Rieslings.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.